Communities across the world this year have been reimagining what daily life looks like during a pandemic.
For Accelerate Institute school leaders, it’s meant inspiring us as they leveraged their training to continue to meet the needs of their students and families amid the global crisis in the second half of the 2019-2020 school year.
Now, it’s already time for leaders to kick strategic planning for the upcoming school year into high-gear.
But what will a return to school look like in the fall?
Due to the ongoing uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, there are currently four possible scenarios:
- a full reopening of school buildings
- a full return to remote learning
- a hybrid of remote learning and in-school learning that alternates for student groups
- or a back-and-forth between remote learning and in-school learning based on infection rates
With so many unknowns, how can school leaders strategically plan for the 2020-2021 school year?
Preparing for the Unknown in the New Normal
In a typical school year, Accelerate Institute leaders use the Accelerate Framework as a guide to create data-driven, semester-long 80/20 Strategic Plans for their schools.
If we were certain there would be a full return to in-school learning, this type of plan would be effective for the upcoming school year.
But the possible need to switch to remote learning complicates the strategic planning process, because a school’s challenges and priorities during remote learning are not aligned with what they might be during in-school learning.
During this spring’s implementation of remote learning, leaders created plans—or “playbooks”—from scratch that included a vision, expectations, and systems and tools that they thought would be needed throughout the process.
To set their schools up for success during a possible return to remote learning, leaders will need to revisit the spring playbook to assess what worked well and what didn’t and determine the specific systems and strategies that will improve their delivery of remote learning.
In other words, remote learning must be incorporated into the strategic planning process.
Before the strategic planning process can begin, though, leaders must think deeply about their goals for student growth and achievement.
Students will likely enter school in the fall with incomplete mastery of the previous year’s content, so leaders must set clear academic goals that accelerate student learning while filling in the gaps that exist.
These goals should be at the forefront of the strategic planning process.
To help leaders think through the impact of this year’s unique set of circumstances on strategic planning, we have created guidelines that outline the key questions and considerations that should be addressed as they develop their plans.
We expect that leaders will enter into the new school year with a solid 80/20 Strategic Plan that sets them up for success whether students are in the building, learning remotely, or in a hybrid model for learning.
Using this approach, leaders will be ready for whatever the return to school looks like, as well as any changes that happen during the year.