Announcing New Leaders FREE Virtual Classroom Toolkit
At New Leaders, we believe that leadership changes everything. We are committed to serving as a trusted source for the most relevant and user-friendly resources. Our free Virtual Classroom Toolkit is here to support you in setting students up for success.
Inside the toolkit you’ll find best practices that can easily be incorporated by teachers to achieve:
- Greater equity in the virtual space;
- Increased sense of community among students;
- More effective virtual assignments and instructional delivery;
- Sustained engagement with families and caregivers;
- And more!
We understand how busy you are. So, we asked two New Leaders staff – both former principals – how they’d put the toolkit to use. Dr. Stephen Peters and Janelle Styons offer their insights on how our Virtual Classroom Toolkit can support teachers and bolster remote learning plans.
Dr. Peters has led public schools across the K-12 continuum in the Bronx, Newark, and central New Jersey. With close to 20 years of experience, he now serves as Program Director for our Leadership Network in Memphis, TN. Dr. Peter's recommendations for using the toolkit include:
Center on equity. Now is the time to be really deliberate and help your school community understand what promoting equity looks like – elevating student voice; showing empathy for different lived experiences; and creating a virtual space that combines high expectations, high standards and high support. Leaders must model this too. The Promoting Equity in Your Virtual Classroom section outlines six key practices for building equity-focused instruction.
Identify professional learning opportunities. Who on your staff needs support developing virtual assignments or community-building practices? Use the toolkit to identify professional learning needs. Each section – Effective Virtual Assignments, for example – lists easy-to-use teacher suggestions that can be integrated into a school’s professional learning plan. Each section also contains change management tips to support school leaders’ development.
Create spaces for connection. Integral to building community is creating spaces for students and families to talk and be heard. The Partnering with Families to Support Virtual Instruction section emphasizes the need for two-way communication that supports parents as partners in advancing learning. Implementing a regular cadence for student and family check-ins across the K-12 continuum will help to engage and unite your school community.
A graduate of our Aspiring Principals Program, Styons served six years as a principal in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in Charlotte, North Carolina. She currently serves as Director, Program Implementation at New Leaders. Styons' recommendations for using the toolkit are outlined below:
Take time to reflect. This fall is the perfect time to step back and reassess the state of virtual instruction in your school. The Guiding Questions for Reflection and Action make that process readily accessible for busy leaders to prioritize what matters most. As an adaptive leader, your ability to shift mindsets starts with your own self-reflection.
Build a school-wide lens. Delegate The Guiding Questions for Reflection and Action to grade level or content area teams. Dedicated time for teachers to collaborate virtually is as essential now as it was in person. Empowering staff to engage in collective reflection creates a more comprehensive view of the school’s current state and the desired state. Being inclusive of all voices also strengthens the development of lasting solutions.
Offer a quick check on the DOs and DON’Ts. It can feel challenging right now to provide suggestions and quality feedback on virtual instruction. The toolkit is here to help. Share the Dos and Don’ts of Virtual Instruction Delivery and the Dos and Don’ts of Organizing Your Virtual Classroom with your staff. The sample weekly overviews (linked within the Toolkit!) are also an especially helpful tool for communicating learning expectations to students and families alike.
Both Dr. Peters and Styons agree that principals need to focus on what is within their control. As educators, we’re all learning to adapt. We’re all figuring out how to implement remote learning and build virtual spaces that advance excellence and equity. “You have to recognize that it’s not an exact science,” adds Dr. Peters. “You want to be at ease with yourself in the process.”