The HEAD Foundation’s three-part practice-focused webinar series, Educational Leadership in a Crisis kicked off on 10 September 2020 with a lively discussion on how educators have mobilised their community to minimise learning disruptions due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
The series moderator, A/Prof Vicente Reyes Jr of Nottingham University began the session reminding listeners of the multi-faceted and critical role of leaders, particularly educational leaders. Joining A/Prof Reyes were panellists A/Prof Hairon Salleh from Singapore’s National Institute of Education, Dr Ronaldo Pozon, School Division Superintendent of Tarlac Province in the Philippines and Mr Sofiandi Effendi, Senior High School Principal of Budi Luhur School in Indonesia.
The session began with Dr Pozon sharing the challenges he faced overseeing schools in his division during government-mandated lockdowns. His biggest worry was ensuring that the education of students in Tarlac could continue, and learning loss minimised. With many in his community lacking the technological tools to seamlessly transition to digital learning, he had to find creative solutions. Dr Pozon and his team adopted a trimodal solution incorporating digital online, digital offline and print content. He also engaged the community to minimise learning disruptions, with community members travelling to remote and less connected parts of Tarlac to provide students with learning materials. Dr Pozon, despite being the division’s school superintendent adopted a top-to- bottom planning style, integrating feedback from colleagues on the ground. He also strengthened linkages, and enlisted the support of local government officials in implementing these solutions.
Mr Effendi talked about the most significant challenges he faced as a high school principal: a lack of readiness for online learning, stressed parents and students, and falling revenues for the school. He helped equip his teachers to teach online by providing access to online learning tools and training from colleagues in vocational schools. He engaged regularly with parents and students, answering their questions and allaying their concerns. He did this through both online and offline means. Finally he communicated regularly with the school Board to keep them abreast of the school’s financial standing.
Critical friend and educational leadership scholar A/Prof Hairon Salleh concluded the presentations by discussing the confluence of communication, mindsets and relationships. He shared how it was important for educational leaders to move towards distributed leadership, evolving beyond their traditional role as instructional leaders to become teaching and even technological leaders, especially during times of crisis.
The webinar concluded with moderator A/Prof Reyes taking questions from the floor. The panel discussed a wide range of issues, including what educational leaders can do to minimise learning disruptions in communities without electricity, to the socio-emotional and psycho-social support that can be provided to learners during these uncertain times, as well as the importance of professional learning communities in times of crisis.
This webinar was an engaging curtain-raiser for the Educational Leadership in a Crisis series which aims to share actionable and relevant strategies to navigate these uncharted waters which have come about as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic