Educational Leadership in a Pandemic Time: Turning Discomfort into Opportunity

For school administrators, the opportunity is unique to place people at the heart of the processes and to review certain practices.

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With the rapid and widespread establishment of distance education over the past year, the school world has been completely turned upside down. Yes, technology was already present in classrooms, but deploying e-learning comes with its fair share of challenges. For managers, the opportunity is unique to place people at the heart of the processes and to review certain practices.

“Many of us lost our footing in March. Over the months, we find a certain stability, we create new benchmarks. In education, we often refer to the Bloom's taxonomy. At the moment, it is the maslow pyramid which must prevail ”, maintains Marius Bourgeoys, co-founder of EDU squad and host of the podcast Everyone is a leader.

Benoît Petit, responsible for national RÉCIT service for school administrators, which already supported them in the appropriation of digital technology before the pandemic, agrees. “Even if we feel in the urgency of everyday life, we must take a time out, recognize that we cannot control everything at the moment and choose to place our energy in the elements within our reach. There is no magic recipe, but generally it starts with welcoming the emotions we are experiencing ”.

Resilience above all

Benevolence and resilience are terms heard over and over again in recent months. They are also found abundantly in the speeches of the two men. In the workplace, while we were more focused on performance, efficiency and the achievement of predefined objectives, we must now learn to make room for the socio-emotional dimension.

“As a manager, you have to learn to recognize feelings, to name them in order to be able to rationalize them. In my opinion, this is the first step. Afterwards, we can think of adopting a strategy to tackle the rest, ”says Benoît Petit.

In fact, he offers a three-step approach to the school administrators he is currently supporting:

1- Resilience above all : Promote the emotional well-being of your teams

2- The learner's posture : Get out of the myth that you have to be an expert in everything (especially in technology) and give yourself the right to make mistakes

3- The common vision : Develop a vision to look to the future (transform your practices in a sustainable way)

“Switching to distance learning can be both an opportunity and a source of anxiety. By giving yourself a vision, it will be easier to see the possibilities offered by the crisis. We can ask ourselves: How can we mobilize our team so that this digital shift is not only technological, but educational? How to equip our teachers so that they support our young people to become ethical citizens in the digital age? In short, let's take advantage of the situation to transform our practices for the benefit of young people, ”argues Mr. Petit.

Being CAPAB

For his part, Marius Bourgeoys offers managers a five-step model, which also leaves a lot of room for humans and which joins Mr. Petit's three steps in several respects.

Clarity : The more one succeeds in being clear about what is expected of everyone, the more the feeling of being able to act on one's reality increases. 

“Don't hesitate to create consistency. People need predictability, especially now. Always communicate the same way, at the same times. Bet on the things you have control over and be transparent. "

Home : Here, we welcome the other (the colleague, the parent, the student) and we become aware of their emotions.

“There is no point in resisting reality. You have to live it. This then allows you to use the right words to describe the situation and to project yourself into the future ”.

Posture : The learner posture is currently required. No one has to know, understand, master everything.

“We must ask for everyone's commitment, because we need everyone to do their part and make their contribution. We can talk about the school of before together, but let us rather focus on creating the school of now together. "

Action : The important thing is to take action, to give yourself a game plan. It will not be perfect, we can see it, everything can change almost every day. So we lay the foundations on how we will approach each situation.

“Again, let's accept the imperfection, but at least try something. Let us be constant, reassuring, facilitating. This is a good example to show our young people. "

Benevolence : We want to create a positive school climate. It also means a climate of sharing that allows you to feel free to name the adjustments that would be necessary and to be constructive in the way of putting them in place.

“Be present, accessible, encourage. Sometimes it just means asking How are you? or Do you need something? to a colleague. "

Beyond the discomfort in which the pandemic places us, the opportunity is indeed real to give new meaning to the “digital shift” in education. We see that it is not a question of simply deploying technologies, acquiring new software or equipping students with computers or tablets. It is in fact about rethinking certain practices, adapting and shaping them so that they offer young people the opportunity to take off in our changing world, today and tomorrow.

As an educational leader, do not hesitate to be visible on the Web, on social networks. Share your successes publicly. Your testimonials could contribute to the resilience of some colleagues.

In addition :

* This text was first published in the magazine Le Point en santé, services sociaux, education, volume 16, no 1, published in February 2021. 

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About the Author

Martine Rioux
After studying public communication, Martine worked as a journalist for various publications, before pursuing her career as an interactive communications consultant at La Capitale, a financial group, then at Québec Numérique, an organization she took over as general manager before making the jump. as political advisor in the office of the Minister for Digital Government Transformation. Today she is the online Editor-in-Chief and Special Projects Manager at l'École branchée. Her dream: that everyone has access to technology and can use it as a tool for learning and opening up to the world.

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