One Year Wiser

Progress in the Face of Adversity for School Leaders

March 13, 2021 marks exactly one year from the day that school buildings closed nationwide in response to COVID-19. As this challenging year continues, and most schools are still operating using all-remote or hybrid models, this unique anniversary inspired our team at SchoolWorks to reflect on the lessons we’ve all learned.

SchoolWorks’ Managing Director of Leadership Supports Betty Dao-Ivey works with dozens of school leaders every year as a facilitator for the KIPP Successor Prep leadership development program. In this anecdote, Betty shares how a simple act of risk-taking became a springboard for progress.


A Lesson in Taking Risks

“In 2020–2021, I facilitated the annual year-long Strategic Planning course for KIPP first-year school leaders for the sixth time.

“The way this program was structured prior to COVID, participating school leaders attended six full-day workshops over the course of the year devoted to various stages of planning and plan implementation. This year, I was challenged to deliver this same experience and achieve the same level of engagement from participants in a virtual setting.

“Since all of the school leaders in my cohort were faced with shifting to some aspect of distance learning, I intentionally experimented with engagement and participation techniques. Exactly one year ago, I introduced Nearpod to the 28 school leaders during the March 2020 workshop. Nearpod is an interactive online student engagement platform that utilizes quizzes, polls, videos, collaborative boards, and other interactive features to enrich the online learning experience for students.

“Integrating this technology into the KIPP Successor Prep program was revolutionary because it exemplified how taking risks and trying new things—even if they are uncomfortable—could support the needs of teachers and students. During my closing session last week, principals repeatedly told me that my use of Nearpod was a “game-changer” for them. Not only did they get to experience a tool that they could implement immediately with their teaching staff and students, they also got to experience – as a student – the excitement and possibility that comes with a new and different way of doing things. The very idea of risk seemed less risky. Now, a year later, these school leaders have clear and high standards for virtual learning, and have been able to have fun with it too!

“We have all experienced the humility of walking in the dark this year. But we have also experienced the excitement and possibility that comes with a journey into the unknown. This is the lesson that I find to be the most powerful.”

For more information about the Successor Prep program, check out our blog post.


Stay healthy, and let’s keep talking!

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