Few leadership roles come with the expanse of responsibilities as that of the Head of School. Previously, one of the few factors mitigating that leadership burden was the predictability of school operations. Buses came and went, classes started and ended, lunch was served and eaten, teachers were hired and onboarded. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
With COVID-19 as part of our new and foreseeable reality, Heads of School will be leading within an environment of immense change. And in June, during a NEASC webinar, the leadership team from Frankfurt International School made this loss of predictability abundantly clear.
Constant Change is our Next Normal
The team shared lessons learned on their school reopening during COVID-19. The discussion from their team was open, frank (pun partially intended), and vulnerable - exactly what you hope to see from leaders. It also reaffirmed some primary assumptions I have made as I try to envision our next normal;
First, that the commitment of educators to their community is unwavering.
Second, the extreme change forced upon school communities signals a new era in the history of schooling.
B.C. (Before COVID-19)
Change has always been a force in international schools - no two days are ever alike. From minor inconveniences to verifiable crises; communications mishaps to sudden policy decrees, cafeteria woes to military coups, challenges come in varying degrees. However, with effective leadership and skilled functional leaders, most challenges are manageable within the foundation of predictable operating conditions.
Like many organizations with predictable operations, schools tend to be rigidly organized into functional silos. And while a siloed approach could be seen as advantageous B.C. (before COVID-19), A.D. (After Distancing) operations demand a freer flow of information to maintain the organizational agility necessary to navigate unpredictable change.
A.D. (After Distancing)
School leaders forced to navigate the constantly changing landscape are highlighting their need for more data, freer flows of information, and clearer insight into the activities of other functions. These are necessary ingredients for cross-silo leadership, horizontal collaboration, and data-driven decision making among leadership teams - much like what was exhibited by the team at Frankfurt International School.
International Schools must prepare their teams to contribute confidently and effectively in schooling A.D.
Onboarding and Reboarding: the foundations of a safe reopening
Onboarding is a process that ensures a teacher can effectively contribute to your school community. Previously, effective onboarding processes were indicative of a school’s commitment to an employee’s growth and professional development. Today, effective onboarding and reboarding lay the groundwork to achieve the necessary clarity for a safe reopening.
Reboarding is much like onboarding, but rather than welcoming a new team member, it is the welcoming of a current team member to a very different operating environment.
The 4 Key Activities of Onboarding
At SkoolSpot, we view onboarding and re-boarding as an interconnected set of necessary activities; Preparation, Documentation, Support, Reporting. While each activity may be managed or overseen by a different person or department within a school, the success of one activity depends on that of another. Whether you use the SkoolSpot platform or not to manage these critical activities, the framework for understanding remains a helpful tool to ensure you and your team are delivering on the necessary tasks for re-opening.
1. Preparation - Prepare your teams for necessary changes Prepare staff (new or returning) for reopening to minimize confusion surrounding altered processes, policies, or procedures. Recommendation:
Provide video overviews modeling new behavioral expectations for reopening.
Deliver training to upskill or refresh staff on digital platforms to ensure they are prepared for alternative instructional modalities (hybrid or remote).
SkoolSpot's preparation pathways curate information for your specific audiences - new or returning. Teachers or staff.
2. Documentation - Ensure clarity and compliance with new processes and policies
New processes, policies, and procedures will require varying degrees of compliance.
Highlight risk areas and potential mitigation strategies with your board and leadership team.
Identify the necessary documentation for consent or compliance.
Centralize and secure documents. SkoolSpot’s Single Central Record allows schools to issue and upload signed documents to facilitate remote and contact-less interactions.
3. Support - team well-being is critical during extreme change and uncertainty
New processes and policies impact stakeholders differently. Support and clarity will ensure the best outcomes.
Moderated, secure, discussion forums allow groups to share their concerns openly and provide necessary peer-support, even in times of isolation or remote instruction.
Forums like SkoolSpot's SocialSpot work best to reduce repetition and increase clarity across teams.
4. Reporting - Data insights on preparation, documentation, and support efforts
The SkoolSpot platform consolidates the Preparation, Documentation, and Support functions in a single web-based location. Reporting and actionable data insights answer questions such as;
Who has completed the preparatory training? Who hasn’t?
Who is compliant with the necessary documentation? Who isn’t?
Is my team receiving the vital support they need? Who isn’t?
Many uncertainties remain about the impacts of COVID-19 on our school communities. One thing is certain, successful schools will be those that use data to align the efforts of their leadership teams to effectively navigate the coming changes with clarity and transparency.
Join the many other schools who trust SkoolSpot to deliver engaging and secure onboarding. Learn more