Virtual School Meanderings

July 28, 2020

Remote Learning Advice

Some useful items below.

Savvy Principal: A New EdWeek Newsletter
          Happy last Monday of July. Some of you are this.close to the first day of school. Last week brought a big dose of whiplash as districts ditched plans for even partial in-person schooling in favor of all-remote. Our big story this week dives into best practices on how to dramatically improve the distance learning experience. Share this newsletter with a colleague and please, drop me a line to tell me what you think!
– Lesli A. Maxwell
Welcome to the year of remote learning. 
The gist: The virus’ grip on many parts of the U.S. is tightening. K-12 leaders in many cities and towns say they can’t reopen buildings safely this fall. That may be the case until there’s a vaccine.
What else you need to know: Even if your school is reopening with in-person instruction, there’s a high likelihood an outbreak could force a shutdown. You need to be ready to pivot to remote learning and deliver a much more robust experience than many schools could last spring.
Response Toolkit: Shifting to a Hybrid Learning System
Hybrid instruction can solve educational challenges for now and into the future. Join StrongMind for a relevant discussion with two veteran hybrid school leaders, a provider supporting hybrid schools, and a research/membership organization. Learn more
Try this: Your schools have high-tech and low-tech tools that can provide students with meaningful learning, regardless of the venue. Bottom line is you need to have a transition plan teed up so teachers and students can seamlessly resume remote learning. The spring crisis mode yielded a number of lessons to draw on.
Go deeper: Dig into more best practices for how to make remote learning work, including a video for how to acclimate your first-year teachers.
Crisis communications. Teachers felt overwhelmed by the 24/7 messages from parents and students during remote learning last spring. To avoid that pressure this fall, you can help teachers set boundaries. One smart idea: sharing “on” hours among teachers of the same subject or grade level.
Aiden Trabucco, right, wears a mask as he raises his hand to answer a question behind Anthony Gonzales during a summer STEM camp at Wylie High School in Wylie, Texas. The CDC released new guidance last week, including specific recommendations on face coverings in schools. -AP Photo/LM Otero
CDC’s latest guidance for schools:  Don’t conduct universal health screenings. Clear face shields are not an adequate substitute for masks. These and many other new and additional guidelines from the CDC emphasize the importance of reopening for in-person instruction.
Thousands of missing devices. Reclaiming school-issued laptops is bedeviling some districts as they move toward reopening. The race is on to recover, inspect, repair, and sanitize devices before they are redistributed. And for those that can’t be found, filing insurance claims.
Principal poll. What’s your highest priority right now? Click on your answer below in Savvy Principal’s first-ever poll.
1. Figuring out social distancing and health protocols in my building
2. Addressing teachers’ concerns and morale
3. Preparing for effective remote learning
4. Answering parent and student questions about how school will look
5. Other
Baptism by fire. Being principal is hard enough in a typical year, but how about our friends starting the gig right now? I sought out some advice specifically for our first-year principals. The main takeaway? Lean on everyone around you.
Rock star riffs on reopening. Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters frontman and son of a teacher, mounts a staunch defense of teacher health and well-being in this essay for The Atlantic on reopening schools safely.
Dim view. Teachers are more pessimistic about the trajectory of the virus than other American workers, though overall, employees in all sectors see the situation as getting worse, a new Gallup poll shows. Until now, the outlook of teachers had been similar to their non teacher peers.
Gallup, July 2020
Brought to you by:  
Handling promotion gracefully. Veteran principal Sharif El-Mekki advises a newly promoted AP to assume good intentions from a colleague who also wanted the job and is now asking to be included in leadership PD opportunities. Including her, El-Mekki writes, is a way to maintain good will and build trust.

Explore more career resources and leads on job opportunities.

Keep burning bright. The words of the late John Lewis, a lion of the civil rights movement and forceful agent for social justice his entire life, shared on #principalsofInstagram.  Have a good week and see you next Monday. (Have a funny, absurd, or uplifting mini story or meme to share in this space? Ping me at
accordingtomrb via Instagram
Lesli A. Maxwell
Lesli A. Maxwell
Editor, The Savvy Principal
Lesli is an assistant managing editor for Education Week who oversees coverage of school leadership and management, equity, and student well-being.
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This newsletter is produced with support from the Joyce Foundation and The Wallace Foundation.

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