Educational Equity Newsletter – June 18, 2020
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Reinventing Ourselves and Our Schools
It may feel like an incomplete victory, but let’s take a minute to celebrate you, your students, and your team for making it through the end of the school year. As you know, the end of the school year usually feels like a triumphant moment even during the hard years. Students’ energies are high, teachers finally get to take some much needed R&R, and leaders can mark the end of one chapter and plan for another. For those of you in district or network offices or running nonprofits, the summer brings similar energy—a chance to reflect on recent accomplishments and to prepare to hit the ground running when school starts again. With continued quarantine—at least for part of the summer—it’s a little harder to mark the transition than it has been in previous years.
So, let’s just say it out loud: this school year is (nearly) over! It’s time to recharge so that you can shift gears and start planning for fall.
We hope you’re taking a real break this summer, and that you’re giving your team members space to process, disconnect, and prepare themselves for the fall. When you’re back, we invite you to debrief with yourself about how things went and what you will commit to doing differently in SY2021.
Here are some things to reflect on for your next school year:
How you manage your leaders
Next year, reset expectations with all managers for what leadership in your building looks like. This includes getting specific about what it means to:
- Model equitable and inclusive leadership
- Build a strong adult culture and cultivate high team engagement throughout the year
- Retain top talent, especially BIPOC talent and others with marginalized identities
- Be relentless in the pursuit of success and learning for all students, centering the experiences and outcomes of BIPOC students, students with disabilities, and others at the margins
- Bring strong emotional intelligence to your work and help your team build trust and cohesion, even when differences arise
- Care for your team by respecting their time boundaries, creating opportunities for reflection and upward feedback, and working to build and maintain trust
Don’t assume—have a two-way conversation about these areas and come to clear definitions of how success in their roles will be measured.
What your top individual priorities are
In our experience, if leaders don’t assign themselves a personal goal around the equitable and effective people-management in their building, with clear success measures they check in on quarterly, this priority will always come last.
With that in mind, outside of your overall building goals and goals for student outcomes, how are you going to measure your own success as a leader? For example, will you measure success by:
- Observing the strength and effectiveness of your leadership team in meeting individual and leadership team objectives?
- Tracking team engagement in your building via survey instruments and retention of key team members, with an intentional focus on the experience of staff with marginalized identities?
- Diversifying your board of directors, improving board relations, or meeting a specific fundraising goal?
Seek upward feedback to lead more effectively
A new school year presents the opportunity to rethink how work gets done. Now’s a great time to hear from key team members about how your management, current meetings, and communication practices are working (or not working). Create space to hear which meetings aren’t serving their purpose, and be willing to replace them with what your team identifies as the highest use for that time. When it comes to upward feedback, the quality of the questions we ask really matters. Here are some of our favorites:
- In what ways has my management style been supporting your success? In what ways has it been getting in your way?
- What would you like me (or us as an organization) to stop, start, or keep doing next year?
- If you could change 3 things about how our organization is run, what would they be?
- If there was one thing you could change next year to make you even more successful in your role, what would it be?
- What hopes do you have for how our leadership team will manage the organization next year?
- If you were coaching me to be even more effective in my role next year, what would you say?
- Are there systems, structures, or policies we have in place that we could change to better support the Black members of our team?
- What’s one thing you think we need to do to be a more inclusive organization?
- Are there things that I’m not seeing that could harm our organization’s success next year? Are there places where we have “broccoli in our teeth”? What are they?
As always, if you need help thinking about any of these topics, email us at email@example.com and we’ll make time to chat.
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.