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Pivoting is not plan B; it is part of the process

Nod to allThoughts and best wishes are extended across the globe as the Covid-19 coronavirus impacts us all. Sending invocations to families, loved ones, researchers, health care providers, and for those who must make difficult public decisions during this time of crisis. May care and love of those around you provide comfort and peace to get you through the days ahead.

Something I have learned about navigating times of crisis is that a crisis is a crisis is a crisis. The context doesn’t matter when it comes to how one handles it. Political leaders say, “never lose the opportunity of a crisis.” There are things we can learn in the messiness of adapting through a crisis.

Successful crisis management hinges completely on a consistent framework. Develop an effective framework; adapt; and apply it to each crisis context.

The major benefit of this strategy is that it saves precious time when you need to pivot quickly and hit the ground running. Why? Sometimes change occurs so quickly that it makes our heads spin and most crises blindside us. Having an established framework for managing crises allows us to quickly pin the details into our framework in order to find a workable solution. No time wasted panicking, handwringing, or fumbling.

A great shift transpired in American Education this past Spring in response to the global pandemic: the enormity and speed of the change was tremendous. All semblance of normalcy shifted, with a need to pivot as needs changed. I submit two applicable and instructive examples where this theory was successfully applied during the surreal COVID-time, we are currently living through: the way school districts, school leaders, faculty, and staff responded to directives; and how Measurement Incorporated personnel rallied to pivot relative to the crisis.

When school districts, school leaders, faculty, and staff were given new directives, procedures, and tools inorder to comply with stay-at home efforts, they did what educators do every single day…made the best of a difficult situation. Everyone huddled up, hunkered down and jumped into “let’s do this” mode, with a number of unprecedented measures in place as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus:

  • Logistics…check

  • Public relations…check!

  • Family support…check!

  • Instructional models, on-line learning & virtual instruction…check!

  • Nutritional services…check!

  • Health-related service needs…check!

This national crisis literally forced the hands of educational organizations to transition from traditional brick and mortar classrooms to on-line classes, essentially overnight. This remarkable pivot in learning platforms has been transformational. Just like that, students were at home, sheltered in with their families, to ride this out. Wow! It would be reasonable to be impressed.

Educationally speaking, life will certainly look quite different when the crisis runs its course. Variables that we have not had to deal with before are now on the table and cannot be ignored. Among the most significant are equity issues; the digital divide has made those glaringly apparent. Communities with high rates of poverty (urban and rural) have dismally low technology access rates. To put it bluntly, how much school work is actually getting done in those households? What are the short and long-term ramifications of that lack of instructional continuity? How can that be mitigated and ultimately made up?

Measurement Incorporated has also pivoted quickly and changed the course of action in terms of providing technical support to educators, hosting synchronous and asynchronous virtual professional learning opportunities, office hours, targeted support groups, hangouts, preparatory sessions for re-opening, and book studies….collectively within virtual walls. At this point we are all in the same boat…no matter your location in the world. The fear of the unknown is profound due to the uncertainty of how long this will last. The entire world is facing similar challenges and feelings of angst as we pivot into the “new normal.”

As we look ahead, let’s do this with a sense of opportunity and optimism. There is no shortage of incredibly intelligent, talented people in American education. There ARE creative avenues to recoup the lost time. Figuring out how to make-up the absence of academic continuity of instruction will likely be challenging and uncomfortable…but after we survive this crisis, I am confident we will meet the trial with the same fortitude and can-do determination that we met the crisis to begin with. Pivot.

Final thoughts…remember we are all in this together. Self-care is vital. One cannot pour from a cup that is empty. Embrace this time of uncertainty, reflect upon what we can learn, how we can change, how we can create an improved future once these times of pivoting have passed. Breathe.

“Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems

most challenging.” ~ JOSEPH CAMPBELL


Denise Howe-Baker is a Senior Staff Developer at Measurement Incorporated. Please visit this website for a description of our programs and services.

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