• Michael Barracato

Leading In the Unknown


To say that education as a whole is in a state of the unknown would be an understatement. The emergence of COVID-19 has turned education on its head and rolled it around a few times, leaving all educational leaders a little dazed and confused. Many questions have become our focus during this time: will we return to the school buildings in the fall? If not, what does that mean for how we deliver curriculum and instruction? Can Remote Learning replace in-person teaching? How do we make up the time lost with our students? Some of these questions do not have precise answers, and some have so many possibilities; it's hard to fathom the right choice. As leaders, the lack of clarity can be overwhelming and cause a heightened sense of anxiety. So how do we overcome this challenge, in one straightforward word we LEAD. We lead knowing we don't have all the answers, we lead knowing we will need to make adjustments along the way, and we lead knowing we cannot be successful in facing the situation alone. We must rely on our most influential team members to make it through this time. In doing this, we should consider:


1. Embracing the unknown

Don't let the unknown scare you. View this time as a time full of opportunities. Be willing to take on the risks of uncertain battles with uncertain outcomes that come with new ideas. Use your teachers and staff to develop new organizational processes capable of adapting to and leveraging every unique situation as things play out differently from what was anticipated. Celebrate when a new idea leads to something better.


2. Defining your purpose and accepting not knowing

Try new ideas knowing and accepting that you will not be able to understand what will happen. Allow yourself to be guided by a strong sense of purpose, a good sense of humor, and a healthy dose of humility. Identify and embrace the ideals that give your teachers and staff deep personal meaning


3. Learning from your failures along the way

Experiment with new ideas, technologies, approaches, systems, and people. Embrace and celebrate failures; look at bumps along the road as learning opportunities. Use them to revise, improve, and drive your staff and school forward.


4. Appreciating there is no manual for human beings

Everyone is unique. No manual will guide you in all circumstances. There is no way to predict what each person will do in any situation. Rise to every challenge and find the courage to connect with others and understand them on their terms. Be willing to ask many questions to learn what they see and seek. Learn to work with the difficulties they experience and help them overcome the challenges they face.


5. Accepting a new way of thinking

There may not be the right answers with the correct information, so always analyze the information available to you and seek new details or perspectives. Develop and maintain an open channel that allows a free flow of education. Learn and explore who you are and how you got here.

Although these are unprecedented times and the future uncertain, our ability to lead should be neither. Facing the challenges ahead and being the guiding force during this time will lead to us a successful outcome.

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