School leaders have truly been working 24/7 during the pandemic to address the myriad issues that continue to arise. It’s been all about adapting, adjusting and recalibrating.

And it has all taken its toll.

District Administration recently provided this helpful list of what leaders need to do to survive in the long run:

  1. Master a continually shifting environment. New demands are emerging all the time, forcing districts to create new alliances with social service agencies; task their staff with jobs that they’re often unfamiliar with; and deal with conflicting points of view about whether to keep schools open, enforce mask mandates, continue with remote learning and more. It’s akin to being a circus ringmaster. Today, school leaders must make decisions on the best way to deliver services while keeping education and safety as their top priorities, shifting the supervisory focus toward outcomes instead of just time on task.
  2. Make critical decisions that affect the health of the staff as well as the students. Leaders have taken on a public health dimension, working with all sorts of groups to make decisions about district operations that weren’t previously part of the job. Those decisions can — and often do — cause an uproar, even resulting in violence, when they don’t meet the approval of school boards or the community. That’s why leaders must rely on experts to do what’s in the best interest of students to survive.
  3. Be extra judicious about spending. While districts have benefited from the state and federal aid they’ve received, that money is finite and must be spent carefully on programs and plans that have the most positive and permanent effect. That money will eventually disappear, so it’s important to make sure anything implemented can be sustained with general funds when the one-time funding is gone.
  4. Support teachers unflinchingly. Teachers have not only had to learn new ways to teach and communicate with their students, they’ve had to learn new technology to do so — many while dealing with their own children at home who were attending school online. You can show your support by reminding teachers they have permission to make mistakes and by finding little victories to celebrate so that educators feel seen and appreciated.
  5. Continue to build on the systems now in place that will enhance students’ educations going forward. First and foremost, that means technology. As one school superintendent put it, the pandemic transformed how education is delivered, and leaders should try to capitalize on the good that has come out of it to prepare our students for a new world that’s being invented daily.