"Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. "

- Arunhati Roy
COVID-19, The Future of Society

When Re-Set School conducted focus groups with heads of independent schools from across the country, we were reminded that educators care first, foremost and always, about their students. 

We want to help your school re-set this fall with even more capacity for deep, value-inspired teaching and learning. With even more clarity about the need to nurture the relational heart center of the community and prioritize equity. With a more humanely paced and balanced experience of all the academic, athletic, artistic, advisory and social engagements that fill each day.  

What if we could come out of this traumatic upheaval with teaching and learning communities that are better than before?

As communities move between 
on-line and in-person engagement, the value-proposition of independent schools remains a constant: 
opportunity, caring, stability.

Sharing The Stories That Heal:

The Comprehensive Assessment

"Holding is a more obscure and seldom celebrated facet of leadership than vision, but no less important. And when crises hit, it becomes essential. In groups whose leaders can hold, mutual support abounds, work continues, and a new vision eventually emerges. When leaders cannot hold, and we can’t hold each other, anxiety, anger, and fragmentation ensue." 
- The Psychology Behind Effective Crisis Leadership By Gianpiero Petriglieri,
April 22, 2020 Harvard Business Review
In focus groups with school leaders from across the country, we heard that not being able to see and make contact with their community on a daily basis has been a major disadvantage. Heads of school referred to walking across campus during recess, eating lunch in the cafeteria, watching a drama production, and talking to a parent at pick-up as some of the many ways they assess the climate of the community. "There hasn’t really been a way to know how we as a whole are doing."

Our research indicates there has been a wide array of experiences during emergency on-line school, so it is critical for school leaders to understand all of the simple, complex, contradictory, joyful, and traumatic experiences people have had—and are having—because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our comprehensive assessment will invite your community to talk about the impact that this disruption has caused. Sharing in this way is a vital step in rebuilding your community. There will be many truths to make sense of. School leaders who can provide this kind of “holding” will discover that bearing witness is a necessary precondition for mobilizing people in a new direction. 

Once the spring 2020 semester is over, we invite people to share about their overall experience. We will poll your community, conduct focus groups and individual interviews to gather stories and create a particular portrait of how the community is doing.  

  • How, if at all, has emergency on-line schooling changed your perspectives on teaching and learning? 
  • Have parent expectations changed? 
  • How have your students adapted?
  • ​Are there issues of equity and inclusion that have emerged? 
  • ​Where do teachers feel equipped at this point and where do they not? 
  • ​What values have you individually been able to uphold during the past three months? As a community? Where did you fall short?

This data will inform the structural, pedagogical, cultural and relational changes you might consider making as you move forward. 

Restoring Ourselves and Reconnecting
with Each Other:

The Senior Leadership Retreat

"With most of us working from home these days, Americans’ workday has increased by 40% – roughly 3 hours a day – the largest increase in the world."
Work Life Balance - The Pandemic Has Exposed the Fallacy of the "Ideal Worker" Joan C. Williams, May 11, 2020 Harvard Business Review
Your leadership team has been running at 200% and is spent. There isn’t any metric that can adequately capture the above-and-beyond efforts of most school leaders. So, processing and making sense of the experience of working harder than ever must begin with the leadership team. Our goal is to help this group re-set their vision of leadership and collaboration, clarify their roles and expectations, and identify key capacities for engaging with what’s next. 

Re-Set School understands managing systemic change, coaching and developing leaders, assessing human behavior, responding to trauma, addressing diversity and equity, and promoting cultures of inclusion. We will invite the leadership team to use these (and other) frameworks for engaging with the data from our comprehensive assessment.

"The Leadership Team's ability to understand and empathize with the simple, complex, contradictory, joyful, and traumatic experiences people have had/ are having is critical to successfully leading the community forward."

In order to help faculty and personnel reflect, learn, and collaborate before the beginning of school year 20/21, the leadership team must have its own opportunity to create a values-driven re-set plan that affirms school mission and identity. This is connected to--- but different from--- building out multiple models for the fall. This is the work of preparing people for carrying out those models. Re-Set School will help you create a leadership plan for how best to reconnect your community, focus on its health, wellness and inclusion, and increase people’s capacity to meet ever-changing expectations. 

During the faculty and staff retreat, we can also support school leaders in different ways. We will model various ways of leading (e.g. holding, facilitating, problem-solving). We may partner with certain leaders by running specific activities together, and we will be available to coach leaders throughout the first semester. 

Reconnecting with Common Values:

The Faculty and Staff Retreat

"In a matter of three days, the comfort of teaching in my classroom to a group of curious and joyful fifth graders disappeared. Pivoting the structure of the classroom and our curriculum overnight challenged all of us. How do we teach in a way that engages our students? How do we translate our rigorous and robust classroom curriculum to an uncharted online platform?" - Lower school teacher 
The success of the next school year hinges on the ability and willingness of faculty and staff to carry out your re-set vision. Our research suggests that many of the people who work at your school currently feel overwhelmed and exhausted. In the spring, schools modified learning targets and responded to student and faculty needs by adjusting schedules. Yet, stress and anxiety, particularly for personnel who are also parenting young children, remain high. Re-Set School will design a retreat for administrators, faculty and staff that provides a structured, personalized process for bringing the community together. 

Preparing Faculty and Staff for Resuming School

We help you prepare your faculty and staff for resuming school, first by validating their experiences and second, by inviting them into the process of repairing and rebuilding their community. The data we collect from your stakeholders creates an affirming narrative, one that (a) candidly reflects the massive effort that went into keeping school open during the pandemic and (b) honors the many sacrifices made to keep students engaged (and parents satisfied!). We provide thoughtfully crafted opportunities for people to share all of the complex experiences related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Repairing and rebuilding the adult community prepares faculty and staff to meet the psychological and wellness needs of their students."

We will help faculty, staff and administrators consider vital questions culled from student data. 

Wellness & Connection:

  • How can we build close relationships and a supportive community, both in school buildings and online?
  • How can we establish and respect boundaries so we have time and energy for all parts of our lives?
  • What trauma symptoms might students display? 
  • How will that affect their learning, work, and relationships? 
  • ​How can we support students affected by trauma?
  • ​How can we empower students to live by their own values—even when they’re affected by trauma?
  • ​How can we help students recognize their own resilience and growth?
  • ​What kinds of professional development and supports will adults need?

Equity and Inclusion:

  • How will we ensure that every single student has access to full participation in the life of the school?
  • How will the school address the way inequities impacted students differently during the pandemic?
  • How will the community use the pandemic as an opportunity to lean in to conversations about race, class, LGBTQ concerns, etc? 
  • ​How will we create and maintain systems and structures that ensure equitable and inclusive outcomes?

Teaching & Learning:

  • How will we use tools and strategies that empower students to do meaningful work, in person and online?
  • How will we restart classes? What rituals might we need?
  • How do our physical spaces need to change for that time when everyone returns? Or leaves again?
  • Will we change our syllabi and learning materials? 
  • ​Will we change our pedagogies? 
  • ​Our protocols (e.g. grades)?
  • ​How will students who needed additional support (academic, psychological) while on-line, be helped with the transition back to in-person learning? 
  • ​How will students who improved and were more comfortable while on-line be helped with the transition back to a bricks and mortar school?

This may not be the lighthearted gathering of previous back-to-school launches, but putting the psychological and spiritual health of the community at the top of the agenda helps people feel reassured. This, in turn, will free them up to do the work at hand.

Enacting Community Values: 

Opening of School Facilitation and Support

As your plan gets off the ground, we will be there for you and your team, especially at the start of the school year. What might this look like? Each school will have needs specific to its culture and desired outcomes, but here are some possibilities: 

Student Re-Entry Activities: 

Your plans may include community-building and emotional processing activities that would be best supported by a team of non-community facilitators. We can be that team. 

Support for the Wellness Team:

In transitioning into the new school year, you should anticipate increased vulnerability and adjustment challenges for some of your students and/or staff, especially around issues of equity and inclusion that were highlighted in the 2020 spring term. Our trained psychologists can provide targeted support and consultation to counselors, deans, advisors, and any other student wellness team members as the year gets underway.

Instructional Design Support

If your vision for the year includes new curriculum, we can help teachers get started as they strive to understand the goals, plan engaging lessons, and integrate social and emotional learning into academic units.

Support for the Wellness Team:

If your vision for the year includes new curriculum, we can help teachers get started as they strive to understand the goals, plan engaging lessons, and integrate social and emotional learning into academic units.

Affinity Groups:

We can provide facilitated discussion groups for those who might benefit from additional support, such as new faculty members.

Staying Committed:

Ongoing Coaching and Professional Learning

Guided by the priorities and needs that emerge, our team is prepared to provide ongoing coaching, professional learning, and additional assessment to support your efforts to stay mission-driven and value-centered into the next school year. This work might include one or any combination of:

  • Coaching sessions with your leadership team or any individual administrator
  • One-on-one meetings with key stakeholders 
  • ​Focus groups with parents, students, and/or alumni/ae
  • ​Workshops with your Board of Trustees. Leadership team, faculty and staff 
  • ​Counseling support to your health and wellness team
  • ​Values-based curriculum assessment and pedagogical support

Schools may benefit fully from the entire process proposed above or decide they need less than the whole enchilada. We will work with you and your school to determine what makes the most sense, given your needs, your pocketbook, and your culture.

Let's Talk.

Is our approach a good fit for what your community needs?
Let's talk together and find out.
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