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Shake Up Learning Show

Apr 28, 2020

Access the full blog post and show notes here.

Leading from home through a crisis is a whole new beast. We, as educators and leaders, find ourselves leading from a very unexpected place. Home. 

Good leaders step up and lead through hard times, and that's exactly what I see happening every day. I have never been more proud to call myself a teacher. Teachers are stepping up and doing things they've never done before, often without any training.

No one could have ever predicted we would be in this crisis, and that teachers and school leaders would be leading from home, but what have we learned? Where do we go from here? What will be our new normal?

Join me for this in-depth episode on leading through crisis and beyond for teachers and educational leaders.


All the tech coaches in my Tech Coach Collaborative Group. Everyone has been so supportive and driven to help everyone thrive during this time.

Quick Tip of the Week

Google Classroom: Use Private Comments for Reflection on assignments. 

Some teachers take the private comments feature a step further and make it part of the assignment by requiring that students add a reflection as a private comment after they submit their assignment. Sean Fahey suggests using an open-ended question or give students a prompt like, “What did you like most about the assignment?” or “What part challenged you the most?”

Be sure to add this to your directions, so they don’t forget!

Watch this video to learn how!

All quick tips are here:

Leading Through Crisis and Beyond

These are truly unprecedented times. As I’m recording, we are still deep in the clutches of the Covid-19 pandemic and emergency school closures. This means educators all over the country find themselves leading from home.

This is a post I never thought I would write. Our world has been turned upside down, and our plans have changed. Suddenly, I find myself writing about leading from home through a crisis.

As many schools, teachers, and other educational leaders are scrambling to deliver remote learning from our own homes; we find ourselves leading from an unexpected place.

Teachers are leading their students from home.

Principals are leading their campuses from home.

Technology coaches and leaders are leading from home.

Even Superintendents are suddenly leading hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, staff, and parents from their own homes.

We don't have answers, but we have many problems and obstacles in front of us.

Many of us are over-stressed, anxious, and worried about the virus, our loved ones, the future--the future of school, the future of the economy, and the future of our nation.

This global crisis will be marked on the history timeline of every country around the world.

Because you are a leader, the pressure is that much greater. You are not just worried about yourself and your loved ones, but your students and your school.

"How do we lead during a crisis?" - Craig Groeschel

Rest assured, we will get through this---TOGETHER!

Good leaders step up and lead through hard times, and that's exactly what I see happening every day. I have never been more proud to call myself a teacher. Teachers are stepping up and doing things they've never done before, often without any training.

The pressure is greater than ever for us to be a support system to our students and their families, but we are also worried and focused on our own families. So how do you lead through a crisis? Go. Do. Support. This is what educators do.

Anyone who ever thought being a teacher was easy is suddenly realizing that teachers are worth their weight in gold!

(Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast)

Take Care of Business Now

We have the time and the opportunity to move the education system forward in a dramatic way. This is the opportunity to take care of issues that should have been done months or even years ago. For many educators, the tech training they’ve been putting off has suddenly become a must-have skill.

Never let a good crisis go to waste! We have many opportunities before us to lead like never before.

This is the opportunity to take care of issues that should have been done months or even years ago. For many educators, that tech training you've been putting off has suddenly become a must-have skill.

The 4 Phases of Crisis-Driven Remote Learning

Phase 1: Emergency/Survival

The first phase is the emergency/survival mode. Many schools had already set the groundwork for digital learning and were able to adapt more quickly. For a host of others, this time has brought to light issues that need to be addressed as quickly as possible. You may still be in this phase right now.

Phase 2: Plan in Place

The second phase is when we start to hit our groove. The plan is in place, and most everyone knows the expectations. The lessons are laid out, we’ve started to figure out how to support each other and our students, and things have started to flow. Many districts are in this phase right now.

Phase 3: Wrap Up the School Year

Next, we will see the wrap-up. We’re wrapping up the school year to end this semester. However, now administrators are focused on how they can properly report on attendance numbers, support, grades, etc. to pass federal and state laws and requirements. I expect to see some last-minute pressure on administrators and teachers to comply with requirements at the state and federal level.

Phase 4: The New Normal

So what’s next? Figuring out our new normal. We don't know what this will look like yet or what school will look like in the fall. We do know that we will need digital learning tools for communication, collaboration, and to engage our students in learning inside and outside of the classroom. The need will still be there.

What We've Learned - The Gaps!

Our gaps have become very apparent!

Digital Equity

Equity is one of the huge gaps. I commend those schools have been working triple time to offer wifi access and resources to kids who don’t necessarily have the means. The pandemic is truly highlighting the areas of need where equity in education doesn’t exist. This gap needs to be at the top of our list! (Learn more about digital equity in e51 with Ken Shelton.)


There are also so many gaps in the skills of teachers and students. The demand for basic digital learning skills has hit a new high. This emergency school closure has shown how many teachers haven't received training and professional learning. Schools who invested in meaningful PD for their teachers and set a standard for digital assignments were much more prepared.

Digital Tools

The need for digital tools is also bigger than ever. Schools and teachers who had ignored things like G Suite and Google Classroom were in a sink or swim situation. Now is not the time for new tools, as we learned from Jennifer Pearson. But if schools didn't have anything in place or expectations for teachers to use it, you had to find a solution quickly.

Offline and Online Activities

Even though students may be at home, even those with access to the Internet and devices, we don't need kids sitting in front of screens all day. The school day cannot be replicated online. We need a balance of offline and online activities, as mentioned in episode 57.


The need for concise and streamlined communication is ever apparent. Communication within districts and campuses, as well and student and family communication needs more context, and needs to be written in a way that all stakeholders understand, including making it available in multiple languages.

Many schools had policies and communications tools in place, which helped them communicate their home learning plans. Those who did not have streamlined plans have suffered and scrambled.

Privacy and Safety

Privacy and safety for our students and families have become a hot topic among schools and the media. We knew that protecting students was important at school, but how do we protect them at home?

Digital Citizenship

Digital citizenship is more important than ever. Students need to learn and understand how to behave appropriately online, online etiquette, and how to protect themselves.

Leaning on G Suite, Microsoft, and other Tools to Survive

Most schools have found themselves leaning heavily on G Suite or Microsoft tools to survive. Some were already users, some only had access without training, and some scrambled to get access in place so they could manage remote learning.

Why G Suite Now?

Teachers, students, parents, and schools need a one-stop-shop to distribute assignments. (Google Classroom)

The need for a video conferencing tool to connect and actually see faces! (Google Meet)

And also the need for a better understanding of cloud computing, sharing, and collaboration. I've answered a lot of basic questions from new users! (See also The Guide to Google Drive Sharing.)

Why G Suite Later?

We've made great strides over the last few weeks. Many teachers and students have gained new skills, and we don't want to lose that momentum.

But remember, the focus should NEVER be on the technology, but on the learning goals, no matter where the learning takes place.

Learn What’s Next

Schools have been leaning on G Suite and Microsoft to survive. I’ve updated several of my resources. You need to know what it means to use cloud computing.

These tools are helping us to survive, but they will also be vital as we move forward. The number one purpose of these tools is collaboration. We will be able to maximize the skills learned during this period when we return to the new normal.

School leaders guide your teachers to the BEST resources to support your goals.

Curate and share! Don't overwhelm with a massive list of resources and links. Leaders must curate!

Connect and learn on social media, host a Twitter chat, create a Facebook group, or just search a useful hashtag.

The Opportunity for Dynamic Learning

You are still a teacher! You still have your instructional skills. Don't forget that!

This period is not about digitizing a bunch of junk. Use this time to better your students and their attitude toward learning. 

It's okay to fail. We are all learning, and we are better together.

We will use these new opportunities to move toward more dynamic learning experiences for our students when we return to the new normal.

Hang in there!

Podcast Question of the Week

FREE Webinar! G Suite for School Leaders: Leading the Normal with a Framework for Meaningful Digital Learning

Education has forever been changed by the coronavirus and subsequent school closures.

You have G Suite for Education at your school, and it helped your teachers survive home learning, but what's next?

Let's explore ways to move forward into the "new normal" of school.

Digital learning is now more important than ever.

In this webinar, I will share tips for survival now, what's next, and a framework for meaningful digital learning that will take us to the next level.