It is Sunday (8/2) at 7:18pm, I actually had another blog post almost 100% written and ready to post live but I have decided to make a last minute decision and scrap it! I am in the car, writing this blog because I honestly HAD to get my thoughts out into the world. 

Almost every weekend my family travels to our home in Wisconsin, I spend the 4 hours in the car each weekend working, putting in my online grocery order, reading, journaling, or on Twitter. Tonight is no different, I just put down my phone after 30 min. of Twitter and I have tears streaming down my face uncontrollably. For those of you who don’t know me well, I am NOT a crier; however, when I am mad or beyond frustrated tears pool out of me like Niagra Falls.

As I scrolled through the “Latest Tweets” of those I follow I am heartbroken by the number of posts I saw (excluding the awesome Twitter chat taking place #IASAPD) from districts asking for parent input on their preference for fall term, communications informing the community that there has been a change in their district’s return to school plan, comments about challenges of remote learning, critiques about returning to school plans, etc.. I know I am not alone, if you haven’t seen the posts on Twitter, surely you have talked to your friends, colleagues, relatives and heard their opinions about returning to school. These posts/conversations make me breakdown as I know the reality of the situation, there is no “right” plan.  

Everyone’s a critic about decisions that they don’t have to make (I am totally guilty of this too); but I am begging you to please show grace towards those making these decisions and rally around our decision makers.  We are in a “disaster declaration” and countless hours have been spent collaborating, planning, data collecting, and communicating, as district leaders do their best to navigate in uncharted waters. Decisions are being made and changed as new information and recommendations are being communicated down the pipeline. This is obviously frustrating for everyone…from the district leaders trying to make the best decisions for all stakeholders, teachers trying to plan their upcoming school year with weeks/days left of summer, parents trying to find someone to support their child’s academic schedule as they go off to work 5 days a week, etc.. The struggle is real and I am not trying to downplay that, but I am asking that you choose grace over anger and frustration.

One word keeps coming to me as I read through all these tweets and hear everyone’s opinions….COLLECTIVE EFFICACY. Two years ago I was introduced to the concept of collective efficacy by Dr. Sarah Mumm, Director of Educational Services K-5 – Kaneland CUSD302. As you watch this short 5 min. video that provides an overview of collective efficacy I encourage you to think about the climate/culture of your district/community….How can you build a sense of collective efficacy within your school community? Do you support your team?  How could you model & encourage collective efficacy in your current role?

Teaching is by nature, an emotional profession. We take our students’ personal lives home with us, we spend our own money on items, food, etc. that we know our students need but can’t provide for themselves, we “own” our students grade as much, if not more, than they do, the current times we are practicing education in only heightens emotions. The decisions being made effect everyone on many levels (personal and professional), I know it feels that everything is coming to an end in public education, but rest assured it is not; this is an opportunity to ban together, take control of what we can and not let the unknown and frustration fracture your district/building-level community!

So how can we rally around our team/district leaders and start to build a sense of collective efficacy during these stressful and uncertain times??  Here are 10 great ways, that you have complete control over, to start changing the narrative of education during the pandemic!

If you (or your district) want more information Collective Efficacy please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at any time! We are all in this together and I am here to support you in any way I can!

Katie Algrim – Director of Innovative Professional Learning

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