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In the best of times, educational leaders have enormous pressure to insure their schools’ safety and academic standards. However, less than two years ago, these same superintendents and principals closed their schools’ facilities and reopened online just days later, continuing a much needed educational presence.

They have implemented programs to provide students who suffer anxiety and depression from the lockdowns, family deaths or toxic living conditions. They support their teachers and continually work with the local and federal governments’ masking and testing requirements. It is no wonder that 42% of principals have considered leaving the profession.

Given the pressure on our educational leaders in today’s world to cover safety, staffing and student well-being in their schools, it is necessary for them to be flexible in their decision-making. Below, we provide some tips for staying a step ahead in these unprecedented times.

  1. Be Flexible. ¬†Every Covid variant has challenged school districts in every state in how they protect their students. Right now, there is no “normal” and rigid thinking will not help. Have Plan B and C for each situation.
  2. Focus on Respect Rather than Popularity, Safety rather than Convenience.
    It can be easy to get caught up in the politics of educational leadership. You may be tempted to make decisions based on what will make you popular with your staff or parents, but it’s important to remember that your focus should always be respected. Respect for students, staff, and parents is the key to creating a positive learning environment. And safety is paramount for both staff and students.
  3. Establish Clear Goals but be ready to Pivot on a Dime
    To be an effective educational leader, you must establish clear goals for yourself, your team and your school. Goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. If each member of your staff understands what success looks like in the classroom they’re teaching in, then you will have done a great deal towards improving academic achievement in your school. Yet if necessary, be ready to shift those goals and understand the toll it has on everyone.
  4. Listen to Input From Your Staff.
    One of the essential parts of your job as an educational leader is to listen to what your staff members have to say. When staff members know they can come to you with concerns about their jobs, they will be more motivated and less likely to leave. Additionally, through listening, you’ll gain valuable insight into improving classroom efficiency and how to help students during the pandemic.
  5. Lead by Example.
    As an educational leader, you must lead by example. That means that when your team makes a goal to improve student achievement, you make sure to model the behaviors and procedures they will need to be successful. In this way, you will show staff members how success is achieved by setting a good example for them. And if you make a mistake, own it and show your staff that we can all learn from mistakes as a community.
  6. Make Meetings Matter
    With so little time between hybrid learning and preparing schools for in person classes, it is necessary to make every meeting count. This means that meetings should have an agenda, be well-organized, and last no longer than necessary. Teachers will appreciate that you value their time as much as your own.


As an educational leader, you are faced with many challenges in this pandemic. Nevertheless, stay flexible, have your Plan Bs and constantly be in touch with your staff and students. By being transparent and working together, we can safeguard our students and improve their academic performance while providing support for our staff.