Supporting Educators During the Back-to-School Season
The start of the 2023-2024 School Year is here! Across the nation, educators are experiencing a whirlwind of emotions, a nexus of “to-do” items, and a spectrum of interactions and expectations. Navigating this terrain is necessary – if not urgent – and is bound to establish a legacy your clients will remember and communicate in their district and beyond.
As a district leader whose role is to support teachers in order to provide their students with meaningful learning experiences, I have experienced twelve openings, each with lessons to learn and causes to celebrate. In other words, each beginning provides companies working with schools the opportunity to be a valued partner. To be clear, a valued partner embodies these four dispositions and behaviors: being proactive, responsive, solution-oriented, and empathetic. I encourage you to reflect on or conduct a self-assessment of how your organization demonstrates these four qualities. In addition to being valuable information for your own use, it will also augment your understanding of the ways your client thinks about your relationship.
Going a bit deeper, the interaction of these four qualities forms a nexus of behaviors that can be best
understood across multiple spectrums of behavior. Inspired by the popular Heinemann series, “Not this, but that”, I have provided multiple measures below, with real-life examples you can use as barometers to evaluate your own performance, especially at the start of the school year.
Don’t Ignore – Do Ignite:
- Your school and district contacts would love to hear from you at the start of the school year. More specifically, a few weeks before the school year is even better. I call this time the “ignite period.” This is when preparations are finalized for the teacher’s and student returns. I work with three different publishers. Only one contacted me before the school year. Not surprisingly, those resources were the easiest to access and get running.
Avoid the No – Spread the Know:
- Don’t tell schools “no,” especially at the start of the year. That comes off as disinterested, and bridges start to burn. Instead, communicate that you will find answers and work with your team and the school’s staff to provide solutions. Knowing your products and services is reassuring, as is knowing when there is a change in a relationship. My long-standing representative retired last school year, and the company, weeks before the start of school, had not identified a replacement.
Not What Was – What is Next:
- New features and training for those features are changes that not everyone will be happy about. Work with your school to help frame changes in a positive and exciting way. Then, help develop the pathways to implement innovations and improvements.
The start of a school year is a special moment. Ideally, it’s marked as dynamic, hopeful, and energizing. Make your organization part of that mix by being intentional and involving partners. If schools don’t need your services at the start of the year, they will know how to connect during the year – and for years to come!
Written by: Craig Perrier
Educational Thought Leader and Practitioner
Craig is the High School Social Studies Curriculum and Instruction Specialist for Fairfax County Public Schools in Fairfax, VA. He also is an online adjunct professor of education for Framingham State University and the teacher certification program, Educate VA. Previously, he taught at American Schools in Brazil for six years and for six years in public schools in Massachusetts.
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