Educational Equity Newsletter – June 11, 2020
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So, what next?
For many of us, this week or next marks the last week of school and a decision point for us as leaders: Will we, our teams, and our organizations rest and recharge for the work ahead or immediately lean into summer planning and preparing for next school year?
We can’t make that choice for you, but here’s how we’re thinking about this moment and what our guidance has been for clients.
The reality of this moment.
Many of us are feeling like we’re on the brink of societal change. From increased protests in cities across the U.S. and around the world, to companies and organizational leaders speaking out more boldly in support of racial justice and against white supremacy, to public displays like the bright yellow Black Lives Matter message on 16th Street here in DC, we see small but sustained indicators that this time may be different. But we also know that indicators of change are not change. As leaders who have devoted our lives to educational equity, we know that this is not the time to be silent or sit back. And also, the truth is that many of us are exhausted. How do we show up and continue to fight, without burning ourselves out even further before an unprecedented school year?
Step away so you can come back stronger.
We know the stakes are high right now, but we will need all of our energy to make progress. Sacrificing yourself in the first mile of this race will not bode well for the last. Be firm in the expectation that everyone will take the time they need to refuel. Here are some ways we’ve seen work:
- Formally close your “offices” for a few days. Close your office for a few consecutive days over the next month. Invite team members to set out-of-office messages. Tell families, students, and stakeholders in advance. Then, shut down. Give team members enough notice about time off so they can reschedule meetings or prepare stakeholders. (You want to avoid having a skeleton crew, because the people still working during an office closure tend to be those with less positional power and BIPOC staff.)
- Build in redundancy through cross-training. Set the conditions for everyone to get the time they need by cross-training people to do essential day-to-day tasks of each other’s roles. Your goal is to enable team members to each take 2-3 consecutive days of protected vacation time (at a minimum) before the end of the summer.
Learn from the past.
Leaders in our sector tend to assess, measure, and debrief everything. We invite you to redirect your drive toward measurement and performance to appreciating the strengths your team demonstrated in the last season. In your debriefs, share learnings and set intentions for the future rather than conduct a point-by-point critique of what didn’t work. Here’s a tool for a learning debrief that models this format.
Set intentions for yourself and your organization.
In the last few months, leaders have been called to react quickly to the moment, often without protected time to look at the bigger picture and make long-term decisions about what’s best for your teams. Now that the school year has ended, give yourself an hour to think about the intentions you have for yourself and your organization for the next school year. Ask yourself what you’d have to start, stop, and keep doing as a leader to make them happen. Then, calendar time for those things. Here are some questions to ask to set these intentions:
- About me
- What do I want to be true of my leadership next year that isn’t true today?
- What do I want next year? How will I plan and work toward it?
- How will I care for myself next year? How will I build bandwidth into my role so that I can support my team to be sustainable and get consistently strong results?
- Where and when am I going to step in and be hands-on? Where am I going to be more hands-off?
- What promises have I made that I need to fulfill? What are my plans to fulfill those?
- About our organization
- How will I advance equity within my organization next year—both within my team and in our programmatic work?
- How will my organization make a difference for students and families next year? What is my role in ensuring that happens?
- What are my intentions for the culture, climate, and staff experience I am building for my team?
- How do I want my organization to evolve?
As always, if you need help planning debrief conversations or setting intentions for the coming year, email us at email@example.com and let us know. We’re here to help.
We have an upcoming workshop on How to Lead a “No-Blame” Debrief and Set Powerful Intentions for 2021 on Tuesday, July 7th @ 4pm EDT. Register here.
Rather than new content, this training will be a deep-dive and application of the topics above, with time for practice, feedback, and related questions. We’ll also be sending optional pre-work to make the most of this time.