How do you make sense of the past year? As young boys, my brothers and I (four in total) would make New Year’s resolutions. They were usually a mixture of reflections about the past, good intentions about the future, and humor. My dad would inevitably joke about our best laid plans…in one year and out the other.
Laughter was a scarce commodity in 2020. There was too much to mourn: COVID-19 and its impact, particularly on communities of color. George Floyd and the many lives impacted by the fight for Black lives in this country. Deep, widespread political polarization thwarting needed collective action. This year’s pain and scars will not heal without intention. So what are my New Year’s resolutions?
Here is my first draft—with more questions than answers:
- Students, parents, and educators stepped up for themselves, their families, and others this year. Consider one example of their heroism. How do I honor them and support them in 2021? How do I build on their inspiration to bring more joy to the world? Racism continues to plague too many of our institutions. How do I push harder to grow my equity skill set and center our work around equity? How do we work with the field to improve the performance of Black and Latino students, and students experiencing poverty?
- We face enduring problems in the wake of the pandemic around learning loss and social trauma. How do we ensure that the lessons learned in the field are available to more people? Are we being bold enough in our solutions?
Sadly, none of this is new. 2020 highlighted our strengths and made our structural challenges hard to ignore. Hence our dilemma: Can we build a new, better normal and not replicate our past shortcomings? I hope so. But it will take more than resolutions. Even the best intentions must be accompanied with action to create change.
I suspect you are at work on your own New Year’s list. Please consider sharing what you hope to accomplish in 2021 with others. Working together, we can get closer to the schools our students deserve. After this painful, isolating year, it would be tragic if our resolutions went in one year and out the other. And please take a well deserved break and prepare for 2021. Happy holidays to you and yours and may the New Year bring you peace, joy, health, and continued partnership.
With respect and appreciation,
New Survey on District Leaders During the PandemicSchool districts have approached reopening during the pandemic very differently. But a new RAND survey of school district leaders shows they share concerns about equity, retention, professional development and more. Interestingly two of 10 surveyed think distance learning will become a regular option in the future.
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Bob Moses Fireside ChatOne of our favorite moments this year was the chat with Bob Moses of The Algebra Project and Henry Hipps from our K-12 team about why reinventing the Algebra 1 experience is necessary and timely. Their dedication, energy, and passion was on full display. We hope you’ll be inspired too.
What We're Reading
- We loved High Tech High’s reflections on school improvement. Check out a blog post here.
- This teacher prep reflection shares more about building confidence and competence in teacher candidates. Learn how Shea Culpepper, Clinical Full Professor & Director of Teacher Education at the University of Houston, has set out to transform how teacher educators think about—and do—teaching.