On March 13, 2020, a historical event occurred due to the corona-virus that shut the entire world down. As an educational leader, my colleagues and I immediately began planning the next steps. However, plans were quickly put on hold as we were waiting on directions from the federal and state government. Therefore, we as leaders had to resort to in uttering three words to our teachers, students, and stakeholders that we dread…”I don’t know. ”
As a leader, there’s an expectation for you to know. Not knowing creates a dark cloud, an uneasy feeling of uncertainty, and chaos. As the days passed during the quarantine, I thought of Moses and how he led his people out of Egypt across the Red Sea. At that point, I asked myself, why would hundreds of thousands of people follow someone into darkness, uncertainty, and confusion?
To answer these questions, I went to my daughter. I asked her three questions: 1) Whenever it’s dark, why do you always come near me; 2) whenever you’re uncertain, why do you come to me as opposed to researching the topic? And 3) when the world is in turmoil and chaos, why am I the one you expect to have all the answers? She responded with three phrases.
- I feel safe and protected with you when the world is dark.
- I trust you and your wisdom on a variety of topics.
- You’re a man of God. You seek guidance from him and follow his word. Therefore, your counsel is vital in times of chaos and confusion.
I immediately put on my educational leadership (principal) hat after this dialogue, with my daughter with the words safe/protected, trust, and guidance steering my thoughts.
Safe & Protected
Principals as we prepare for the 2020-2021 school year, it’s imperative that safety and protection are at the top of your priority list. Yes, the district will have plans for social distancing, sanitizing the school and classrooms, and preventative measures from spreading the virus. However, it is equally as crucial that your staff feel safe and protected from:
- Digital mistakes that will occur.
- Teachers are not responsible for students who don’t log in.
- They are being punished for parents not doing their part to communicate with the school.
- Punished for being unable to hold parent meetings long after work hours as they have families of their own.
- They are refusing to accept late work.
Principals, will your teacher feel safe and protected in these areas returning to school in the fall?
Trust is the central nervous system of any successful organization. Without it, an organizational heart attack or aneurysm is inevitable. Hence, trust between the principal, teachers, and staff members is crucial. Here are a few critical components of trust.
- It’s essential to be blatantly honest with your staff.
- Everyone must feel they have a voice.
- An environment of vulnerability must exist.
- Intellectual humility must be evident.
- The principal must be approachable
Principals, do your staff trust you, leading them into darkness, uncertainty, and chaos?
Who’s Leading You
During my years as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and now Director of Curriculum and Instruction, I’ve been blessed to be connected to some phenomenal educational leaders. Principal Kafele, Dr. Darian Jones, Dr. Anthony Muhammad, Dr. Chile Akua, Dr. Earl Suttle, Dr. Douglas Hendrix, Dr. Donyall Dickey, Dr. Anthony Smith, Marcus Fuller, and Dr.Wynton Walker and many others. Although each of these leaders is phenomenal, I was reminded of a discussion I had with one of my teachers who retired. She asked to pray for me before leaving, but before praying, she told me it meant so much to have a leader that’s lead by God. This was powerful for me as we consistently prayed at school. Something we’re not supposed to do, but I didn’t care. We did it anywhere. Below is her prayer.
Bless the Hands that Serve Our Children
Father Bless the hands that serve our children. May they bring Glory to you. Everything these hands touch shall prosper—nothing missing and nothing lacking.
Bless this body with healing for he is the healer protecting his health, not the sick trying to get well; therefore, every ligament, joint, bloodline, cells, and muscles will line up to what it has been called to do.
Bless his words with wisdom. His words will be a beacon of hope to all he serves. He will say a thing today, and it will happen today. Wisdom will be like a six sense to you. Wisdom will guide you into peaceful times. You were created for such a time as this. Live the vision; God has already etched it in your heart. All provisions are waiting for you to carry it out.
God calls all leaders, and he called you. He has called, prepared, and equipped you. Follow your destiny. Now that you know who you are. Nothing can stop you, for there is no one and nothing more significant than Him
Amen in Jesus’ Name.
Principals, do your teachers and staff know who’s leading and guiding you? It can’t just be a representative of the district office. Schools inherit every problem of the world, and a higher power is needed for wisdom and guidance.
The year 2020 – 2021 will be a year of transformation, trials, tribulations, triumphs, and innovation. This year will be the year of evolution in education, and you will lead it. I believe in you.
For the kids,
Marcus Jackson, Ed.D.