The Long and Winding Road
The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to you door
It has been a while since my last Blog post. Like most of you I have been working from home in a virtual environment. I have found myself busier that ever–maybe not spending time in airports or train stations, but lots of time on Zoom. I must admit that this new way of doing work has been challenging and unexpected. Each day brings a new challenge and opportunity to re-imagine DASL’s work with district and school partners. I think about it as navigating a “long and winding road” —lots of turns, detours and obstacles, but no final destination. None of us know how long the pandemic will continue and what schools will look like in the Fall for our students and educators. The map we followed before March must be adapted to include some additional pit stops. Why pit stops on the long and winding road? Just like a race car driver, we must sometimes pull over, get some gas, change a tire, or replace something that is not working. I have found myself needing to refuel, re-energize, and to repair as the DASL staff continue to support school leaders at this challenging time. One thing I know for certain is that there has never been a time when effective school leadership matters more.
As we approach Fall and plan for school reopening, educators will be expected to provide a safe environment for students to engage in learning. Just as school leaders pivoted in the Spring, they will continue to adapt the school environment in order to serve students. This is going to require creativity in designing new processes and procedures for schools. The staff at the Delaware Academy for School Leadership has been thinking about our work and how we can best support education leaders as they navigate the twists and turns of this new road they are traveling. We have used the summer to explore new technology, participate in our own professional learning, and to test some new ideas. I would like to share some of our summer learning.
DASL’s Principal Preparation Program has always been a face-to-face program. We believe that when preparing principals it is important to bring the cohort of students together for discussions, role plays, case studies, and document-sharing. But we have learned that the program can be delivered virtually without jeopardizing quality. Cohort 5 students finished Course 2 with Dave Santore in the Spring and they are now taking Course 3 with Mark Holodick. They use the CANVAS platform to access all course materials and Zoom for weekly class meetings. They are assigned breakout groups for discussions. This summer we welcomed Cohort 6 for the IGNITE Orientation. Although not as much fun as being in a room together to get acquainted, we spent two half days learning from one another and preparing the students for the 18-month program. Thank you to DASL faculty for maintaining a quality learning experience for our PPP students.
When educators were adjusting to stay -at-home work, the DASL team was busy accessing resources from our national partners. Every week DASL Leadership Specialists were participating in webinars with Digital Promise, https://digitalpromise.org/webinars/education-leadership-for-a-digital-world/
Learning Forward, https://learningforward.org/webinars-2/
the American Association for School Administrators, https://www.aasa.org/webinars.aspx
the National Association for Secondary School Principals, https://www.nassp.org/professional-learning/online-professional-development/webinars/
and the National Association for Elementary School Principals https://www.naesp.org/career/webinars
. We found the webinars to be informative because they were led by practitioners with expertise that was useful and applicable to the needs of our partners. Most of the webinars have been recorded and can be accessed using the links I have provided. DASL applied what we learned from our partner organizations and hosted a DASL Town Hall series for Delaware educators. Over 150 educators participated in the Town Hall and shared resources, tools and strategies they were using to support students, families and one another. If you were unable to attend one of DASL’s Town Hall meetings, please go to the links below. Each meeting was unique because of the participants who were sharing resources.
Finally, we were determined to host the 18th Annual Policy and Practicehttp://www.dasl.udel.edu/annual-conference/ with our collaborators, the Delaware Association for School Administrators and the Delaware Department of Education. On August 5th over 400 registered educator will participate in our firs virtual conference. We have an outstanding keynote speaker, informative breakout sessions–some live and some pre-recorded. We are testing a new technology with the Whova app so we are taking a risk. I hope that you will be joining us for this exciting event.
So where does this long and winding road lead to as we approach Fall 2020? You have my commitment that the road will lead us to the places where we can best support school leaders. We will be partnering with the DEDOE to provide the Year2 Induction Program for Assistant Principals. We will be collaborating with the DEDOE and the UDEL School of Education Faculty to bring the Governor’s Institute for School Leadership–a third year induction program for Assistant Principals. And we are in the development of a new program for Superintendents. We will continue to provide ASPIRE http://www.dasl.udel.edu/aspire/ and STEP-UP http://www.dasl.udel.edu/step-up-program/–our principal pipeline programs. We will continue to support districts with 21st Century Grants, Professional Learning Networks for Special Education Leadership http://www.dasl.udel.edu/dasl-professional-learning-networks/, and certification programs for Jobs for Delaware Graduates and the Special Education Administration Leadership Program (SEAL) https://www.cds.udel.edu/seal/.
The road always leads me here. Enjoy the rest of your summer.