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C'est la Z

School leadership and COVID, or not

Teachers are back and students will soon follow either in person or remote. In person means in person one or two days a week with the rest of the time from home.

This of course shows horrible leadership. It fails in terms of education, safety and even freeing up parents to get back to work. After all, if your kid is only in school one or two days a week it hardly allows you to get back to your own full time job.

Of course the plan gets worse. It's optimized to provide the worst possible educational experience. I won't rehash the plans here but it's looking to increase the teachers workload tremendously while at the same time killing continuity for the students (unless of course the DOE can hire thousands of extra teachers and somehow arrange for them to mind meld with the main teacher). I'm not going to hash out the details here but they're easy enough to find on the interwebs.

Now in terms of leadership I'm not writing about De Blasio or Carranza. We all know they're absolutely horrible. It's hard to believe Carranza was actually a classroom teacher at one point and while I'm no fan of Bloomberg on education at least you could say that he had a vision, albeit an incorrect one of applying business sense to schools and followed it while De Blasio is tone deaf, arrogant and clueless which could make him more dangerous. I'm talking about in school leadership.

What did schools do? Well some tried to make the best of a bad situation. They recognized that the Mayor's hybrid model was bunk and while safe full time in person is clearly the best choice, fully remote, even with its difficulties and limitations would be more sound than hybrid. Add to that the fact that if a school had to go remote midstream you'd be set even further back 1. These schools decided to basically set up remote from in school. Students who wanted to or had to go to school would be sent to specific parts of the school where they would receive the same remote instruction as their classmates. This would accommodate students who couldn't work from home while allowing for a sensible overall schedule.

Sounds like good leadership to me and in some cases it is. On the other hand, in some cases you have to dig deeper.

The first question has to do with the student pods. Can they be set up safely. What about entering and leaving? Bathrooms? Lunch? I'm guessing some schools have a good plan in place but I've also heard teachers refer to their upcoming student learning pods as "deathpods."

The next question has to do with teachers working from the building or from home. The DOE decreed that unless you get a medical excemption you have to work from school. Who cares if you're meeting students in person or not, you have to be there. This was ridiculous. I've already written about it - scared teachers can't teach. This is where leadership kicks in. I've heard through the grapevine that some schools had teachers working from home without DOE permission. Sounds like good leadership to me - trust your people to do the job and do the right thing.

Recently, the DOE backpedaled and gave schools the ability to allow teachers to work from home without medical excemptions so long as it worked within their COVID plans. Looks like some schools are jumping on this.

Unfortunately, others aren't. I've heard of principals that are setting up their schools to be "remote from school" but requiring all teachers show up in person even though they clearly don't need all of them on site. This is the type of "leadership" I've come to expect from many of the Bloomberg era principals I've met - you know, the ones that barely taught for a cup of coffee. Insisting that teachers brave the subways and share facilities like bathrooms only to spend the day teaching in isolation serves no purpose other than to exert power over them. If a teacher is teaching all remote and isn't needed for the pods, let them teach from home. They'll be more comfortable and thus more effective.

It sounds like some principals are being true educators and leaders in these times but many are not and in these times when we can't count on our elected officials or his appointees to do the right thing, we need all our principals to step up.



Note that I'm only talking here about the general population at the high school level. I don't claim to know the best format for the younger grades and accomodating special needs students are a whole different kettle of fish.

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