By James Wickenden and Jennifer Fleischer, Talent Consultant at DRG Talent Advisory Group
Making predictions is always risky because the chances of being wrong are greater than the chances of today’s Congress working together harmoniously and productively. Nonetheless, both our government and we are willing to try. In so doing, we are relying on our collective past experiences to give us a few ideas about the future.
In total, we have worked in schools and with schools for over 70 school years. From the classroom to the board room, and from the thickest of the weeds to the 30,000-foot views, we have seen schools and their stakeholders manage goals, initiatives, fads, lasting change, and crises throughout this time. We’ve had the opportunity to partner, consult, learn, and advise with school people at all levels. The major issues schools wrestled with during the early 2000s are quite different from the issues that are now confronting the leaders of both public and independent schools.
For example, in the early 2000s, the following issues were frequently discussed by trustees, Heads of School, and teachers:
- Developing 21st Century Skills; Developing character;
- Linking pedagogy to brain research on how students learn;
- Using technology to enhance learning;
- Initiating a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) program;
- Building a curriculum with a global orientation;
- Developing critical thinking and problem-solving;
- Recognizing the importance of diversity and equity in our schools;
- Empowering girls’ voices in the classrooms.
While we are certain that there were other issues that could be added to the above list, please note that many are still applicable and still receive attention today. Yet, to be relevant today, we would need to add issues that currently dominate discussions among trustees and school boards. For example, today a great deal of time and attention is focused on:
- Sexual harassment and assault responses and policies;
- Managing COVID-19 and subsequent policies and protocols;
- Competing with online and/or home school alternatives;
- Training faculty to work with students with diagnosed learning differences;
- Urgency towards ensuring diversity, equity, and belonging for all community members and addressing past wounds;
- Supporting student mental health crises;
- Navigating the changing landscape of college admissions;
- Planning for the widening income gap;
- Supporting gender fluidity and gender-questioning students;
- Managing the political divide that exists in the country.
Of course, neither of the above lists is complete, and depending on your school’s demographics,…