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Leading Schools In Terms Of Crisis: Six Lessons For School Leaders

PROFESSOR FELIX MARINGE

Good leaders must never be caught off guard and suffer complete paralysis in times of crisis. Leaders must develop a wide range of possible responses to predictable disruptions. Schools need to develop a predictive capacity around a number of possible scenarios and how to prepare for learning continuity in any event.

Good leaders prioritise learning continuity despite the odds. Schools, districts and provincial authorities need to begin a process of developing alternative curricula that can be drawn upon in times of crisis.

Good leaders should always be aware of high anxiety levels amongst teachers and learners in times of crisis. Morning briefings, lunchtime staff room drop ins, end of day farewells have been found to be reassuring and comforting enabling the school community to develop confidence and courage to work through the difficult environment.

Good leaders recognize that parents are the strongest allies in times of crisis; schools need to develop capacity in parents for supervising and monitoring home learning. Research tells us that personalized communication captures the attention and increases both the parents and children’s engagement substantially.

Good leaders focus on the most vulnerable especially in times of crisis. Good crisis planning is based on the needs of the most vulnerable who always have the most to lose when teaching and learning is disrupted.

Good leaders are aware of different pedagogical principles that underpin different teaching and learning approaches; emergency remote learning is best achieved through emphasizing the learning of basic concepts in small bite sized chunks rather than long drawn lectures and approaches more suited to face to face teaching and learning. 

(SOURCE: Zenex Foundation| Felix Maringe, Professor of Higher Education and Head of the Wits School of Education)

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