Monthly Archives: March 2020

March 29th newsletter

The week has been spent focusing on Coronavirus matters—operational questions, HR questions, cash flow questions, remote learning issues, closures, etc.  So, again, I’m sharing some of the best articles in this week’s newsletter that I came across to give you a little food for thought and a sense of connection to others who are struggling to make sense of their new realities.  The Top 5 (all listed at the top of the links):

  1. Brene Brown’s great blog post “Collective Vulnerability, the FFTs of Online Learning, and the Sacredness of Bored Kids” really struck a nerve. Check out this quote: “how hard it is to be new at things – from small things to global pandemics. When we have no relevant experience or expertise, the vulnerability, uncertainty, and fear of these firsts can be overwhelming.”  Aren’t we all feeling a bit of this vulnerability?  Trying something new, not feeling entirely comfortable at what we’re doing.
  2. The HBR article “That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief” has become one of their most popular articles for good reason. We have all lost a little something and we need to recognize it.
  3. Chris Lehmann’s “Doing School in the Time of Coronavirus” is a great article born out of his experience when his school was shut down earlier this year.
  4. Tom Barrett also came through again with another great article, “The Post Corona World.” This is about strategic thinking.  Can you imagine a good outcome to your school after this crisis?
  5. Deborah Cohan presented some great thoughts on the struggle to set up a remote learning experience for her students in “What Do We Need to Teach Now?” It’s a look at how teachers need to balance the technological learning curve, the reality of their own lives, the place where the students are, and the need to teach what’s important.

March 22nd newsletter

My past week was dominated by Coronavirus concerns so in this week’s newsletter I’m going to share the resources and articles I found valuable.  The Top 5:

  1. In the first section, Fr. Joe Corpora from Notre Dame has written a poignant piece on navigating this crisis: “Being Mercy, Salvation, and the Laundry Left Undone” is simply wonderful.
  2. Later in that section, to remind yourself why we’re doing this, make sure to read the Imperial College report which changed everything, or the “Extraordinary decisions” article about Italian hospitals.
  3. In the Operational Resources section, Dr. Julie Cantillon and the Diocese of San Diego Catholic schools team has put together a super website with resources for remote learning. Check it out and sign up for her daily updates.
  4. In the Religion Resource section, I’ve come across a number of great resources for religious content (Formed, Word on Fire, Sadlier) but the best is the Diocese of Grand Rapids. It’s what church looks like during this difficult time.
  5. In the last section on Crisis & Communication, the HBR article “Build Your Resilience in the Face of a Crisis” is a great reflection. Call this what it is (a crisis) and look to learn to improve your skills navigating.

Be safe and be courageous.  We need great leaders now more than ever.


March 15th Newsletter

Last week, I said I was going to take a break for a couple of weeks.  However, everything has been cancelled so I have had time to collect some great articles and put together this week’s issue.  I don’t imagine this is going to change because I think we’re in for a long disruption in travel and social interactions.  The Top 5:

  1. Let’s start with the Coronavirus. If you haven’t looked at the CDC guidance, please do so.  And even if you have, look again.  There’s a lot of great information here.  I’ve also included four different links in the Teaching & Learning section which present resources and tips for virtual learning, including one teacher’s online teaching plan.  In the Miscellaneous section, there are two articles dealing with communication tips with children.  Frank Donaldson of IPSD passed along his crisis management tips which are certainly valuable.  I imagine this is as far as most of you will get with the newsletter since Coronavirus is dominating our work right now.
  2. In the Leadership section, the Science article “Does Closing School Slow the Spread of Coronavirus?” is insightful and should help school leaders deal with confused stakeholders who don’t understand why school must be suspended. The Atlantic’s article on the “triage” approach and moral dilemmas in Italy’s hospitals is worth a look.
  3. William D. Parker’s powerful blog post “The Power of Sharing Your Own Story” is simply wonderful. He worked to identify 8 powerful stories about his life which he can use to illustrate who he is.  Worth a read for every school leader.
  4. The HBR article “How to Spot an Incompetent Leader” is delightful. It includes a measure of narcissism (!) and discussion about our ability (and failure) to detect signs of incompetence.
  5. At the end of the Miscellaneous section, I include two resources from Dr. Ashley Berner of Johns Hopkins. First, there is a report on pluralism studying the results of the School Choice movement in Indianapolis titled “Does Educational Pluralism Build Civil Society?” and then there is a 45-minute webinar on a new measurement of school culture which she helped develop.  Looks like an interesting and valuable project.

March 8th Newsletter

In this week’s blog and podcast, I introduce my new book, Orchestrating Conflict: Case Studies in Catholic School Leadership.  I’ve also included a case study about discipline and African-American braids and some great articles.  The Top 5:

  1. In the Leadership section, the first link is to information about a new Strategic Planning course produced by the Arrupe Virtual Learning Initiative. I’ve taken the course and found it extremely useful.  See this link for more information.
  2. In that same section is a 5-minute TED video on effective feedback. It’s a very interesting and practical video.
  3. In the Teaching & Learning section, the best link I can provide in this issue is from the great blogger Larry Ferlazzo entitled “Gold Mine of Resources for Educators Preparing for School Closures.” He provides a link to many resources and it will be a page I will want to continue to check.  How does one plan for a Virtual Day for 2nd graders?  (this is a question I ponder since I have one of those living in my house!).  Larry delivers once again!  We need to be prepared for how the Coronavirus response will impact our schools.
  4. In the Miscellaneous section, the first article “The Definitive Guide for Handling Haters” by Maria Popova (of the “Brain Pickings” blog) is simply fantastic. It gives you inspiration on how to handle criticism and push forward with your ideas.  If you’re a school leader facing criticism about a tuition increase, or the parent of a middle schooler (!), or guiding a project toward completion, you’ll find this article speaks to your reality.
  5. The next article in that section details Mitch Daniels’ efforts to freeze tuition at Purdue. In Catholic schools, I hear talk about what we don’t have (resources, students) or what we can’t provide (higher salaries, better facilities) but we don’t focus on what we do—provide an excellent education for as little cost as possible.  Mitch Daniels has done this on the university level and it’s worth considering.

March 1st newsletter

In this week’s newsletter, I discuss one school’s successful innovation to build community and morale.  It should serve as good food for thought for this crazy month.  With one foot firmly planted in finishing this year, we all have another foot planted in planning for next year.  Add to that the inevitable meltdown (staff member or student) and it’s usually an interesting month.  The Top 5:

  1. In the Leadership section, blogger David Geurin has a great piece called “Experience Alone is Not Enough” where he explores the idea that simply doing something for a few years doesn’t make you a master. There is an old joke about a retiring teacher (“he had one year of teaching experience that he repeated 24 times”) that could just as easily apply to school leaders.  How are you learning from your experience?
  2. The next link in that same section is from Tom Barrett who explores the meaning and application of design thinking principles. Have you heard “design thinking” thrown around educational circles?  Barrett’s article provides you with a great framework for understanding.
  3. In the Teaching & Learning section, George Couros has a great blog piece on learning new skills, “Switching it Up.”
  4. The next article discusses the academic benefits of hiring a school counselor. It’s worth considering the priority of student mental health.
  5. In the miscellaneous section, Farnam Street’s article on the mental models of an astronaut is worth a read. The discussion of mental models is thought-provoking and Shane Parrish is doing great work in this area.