Introducing the Leadership Toolkit for Supporting Remote Instruction
No doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed education, requiring schools to create rigorous, equitable and joyful learning experiences for students outside of a physical classroom. With so many competing demands, educators and school leaders are looking for tangible resources to improve the quality of virtual and hybrid instruction.
Our Leadership Toolkit for Supporting Remote Instruction is just that – a set of tools and resources you can use right now to continue the focus on learning and teaching and keep equity front and center. Take a peek inside and you’ll find:
- Strategies for reflection on the current state at your school
- Planning for instructional support as a leader, including virtual task analysis
- Tools for engaging in virtual walkthroughs
- Tips and templates for coaching and providing feedback in virtual settings
We understand just how full your days are. So, we asked two seasoned practitioners how they would use the Leadership Toolkit. Both Dr. Tracy Anderson and Seth Lewis Levin are former principals who support school leaders across the country.
Time management strategies so leaders are focusing on what matters: teaching and learning. Take a look at the Prioritization Framework and Guidance on Scheduling and Time Management. “The work of ensuring that learning is happening for every child, every day is way too big and way too complex to carry by yourself as a leader during normal times – and being in a pandemic and leading in a crisis only makes this work that much harder,” says Dr. Anderson. “What leaders need right now is a way to prioritize what’s most important for teaching and learning.”
Dr. Tracy Anderson is currently the Senior Director, Design and Development at New Leaders. Dr. Anderson has held various roles throughout her career including assistant superintendent, principal, and transformational leadership development coach. She is dedicated to educating underserved communities as a results-oriented change agent. Here is where she’d start in the toolkit:
Instructional strategies to keep equity front and center. Our Leadership Toolkit offers turnkey resources for conducting virtual task analysis with teachers to ensure the content, tasks, and assignments put in front of students are engaging, worthy of their time, and drive towards mastery. This is more important than ever as the pandemic continues to exacerbate the opportunity gap. “The only way that principals can really, really narrow the focus and make sure that we are reaching every kid, every day is to make sure that we’re still doing the practices that drove equitable outcomes before the pandemic,” says Dr. Anderson.
Tangible tools to support teachers as they improve their instructional practice. Checklists make everything easier. Check out the Virtual Look-Fors the next time you observe a Zoom classroom or review the assignments teachers share with their students. It allows you to quickly see what elements of instruction are foundational for remote learning and what elements of instruction support a vision of instructional excellence and equity. Principals can use this tool on their own, and they can also share it with teachers to help them self-reflect.
Building in time to reflect, particularly on what anti-racism and equity mean for leaders and their school communities. “The most important thing is finding time to reflect… equity is finally coming into the forefront as a part of the narrative and a part of their job. Prior to this summer it was assumed it was part of your job and now it's more explicitly part of your job,” says Lewis Levin. Our Leadership Toolkit opens with a set of leadership reflection questions and a self-assessment to identify strengths and areas of opportunity to advance equitable outcomes for all students. It is worth every minute of your time.
Seth Lewis Levin currently serves as a Program Director for New Leaders. Lewis Levin was the founding principal of the New Visions Charter High School for the Humanities in the Bronx, NY. He also transformed the Tobin School in Cambridge, MA to become the first certified PK-5 public Montessori in the nation. He is passionate about advancing equity in schools. His recommendations for using the toolkit include:
Shifting coaching and feedback practices for a virtual environment. A must for principals is Guidance on Coaching and Feedback in a Virtual Setting. It helps leaders understand how to shift their practice to be successful in a virtual setting. Lewis Levin points out that everyone is learning new skill sets: “As much as they're asking teachers to change the way they teach, so too are we asking ourselves to change the way we lead around instruction. And that's okay – we're all on this giant learning curve together.”
Prioritizing self-care for principals. Lewis Levin often starts his coaching work with reminding school leaders that they cannot take care of others if they are not meeting their own needs. In fact, our Leadership Toolkit starts with a Leader Hierarchy of Needs. It’s designed to help leaders pause and assess how they are taking care of themselves and by extension fostering well-being and community in their schools.
While it is not possible to create more hours in the day, our Leadership Toolkit is full of resources you can use tomorrow that will keep the focus squarely on learning and teaching.