Calm in the Midst of Chaos

The current situation in the world is unprecendented. Information is confusing and coming from all directions at once. People are scared and are looking to their leaders for answers.

As school leaders, we have a role to play here. We are not typically political. We are often not publicly vocal. But we are passionate about what we do. We are strong advocates for the well-being of society’s most valuable assets: our children.

My global colleagues are dealng with this in one way or another. In this, we are united.

Most of my Ontario colleagues are returning to school from Spring break. But ‘school’ looks very different that it did only one week ago. They are now closed or closing. Students are learning from home. Parents are taking an active role in their child’s education, whether or not they did so in the past.

That doesn’t mean that as school leaders we don’t have a role to play.  We can, we should, and we must step up.

We need to provide clear information to our communities. We need to provide reassurance to our parents, our guardians and our families. We need to communicate. We must be the calm in the midst of chaos.

On Thursday, March 12, 2020, the Belgian government announced that schools would close for a 3-week period beginning Monday, March 16th. As a Canadian principal leading a Canadian school in Belgium, many in my community didn’t know how this applied to us. We are one of only three Canadian Armed Forces school in the world. Of course, there would be questions. What would learning look like? What would support look like? How will my child be affected? How can I reach out?

I sent out the following video to my school community.

Principal Message to Canadian Section – SHAPE International School

To be honest, I didn’t really have a ‘big picture’ in mind. I knew information in this situation would change quickly and I wanted to reassure parents that our staff were working, and working hard to define what learning would look like for their child. I wanted them to know that, in the uniqueness of our school community, parents could count on us as another support system.

I also wanted them to know that these are unique times. We might not get it right the first time. I wanted to highlight what I thought were important elements in the midst of the unknown: patience, support, compassion and community.

I wanted to be a strong voice of calm in a sea of chaos.