In September 2020, the back-to-school conversations educators are having are like never before. In case you missed the #suptchat on Twitter this week, the PAPER team is here to provide you with a comprehensive wrap-up.

Q1: How have your teachers shown resiliency in preparing for and starting this school year?

From all the answers, it’s evident that district administrators are teachers’ #1 fans, singing their praises from every corner of America.

The main themes repeated throughout all the tweets were:

  • Teachers have adopted a positive, find-a-way, can-do spirit.
  • They have been incredibly flexible and patient, and quick to pivot as plans have changed or been adjusted.
  • They jumped into remote teaching with courage and conviction.
  • They have fostered a profoundly collaborative, supportive environment where they share ideas and discoveries.
  • They are growing their skills as educators and learning new technologies, all while ensuring high-quality instruction, no matter the modality.  
  • They have a deep commitment to their students that outweighs everything else, by continuously working on rapport-building and proving they will do what’s best for students no matter what.
  • They have been creative, ingenious, and forward-thinking with their lessons and strategies to engage students remotely, and have shown a strong willingness to take risks.  

Q2: The past year has called for a lot of change, describe what emotions you have been feeling?

Unsurprisingly, every emotion under the sun was listed in response to this, from uncertainty, anxiety, and disappointment to optimism, excitement, and relief.

Evidently, superintendents miss their students terribly, are proud of what their communities have accomplished, and are inspired by their students' and educators' heroic and resilient actions.

Many are now relieved that their back to school plans are finally in action, proud of what has been accomplished, and hopeful for the future of education.

Clear, consistent, and concise communication. We heard it loud and clear — this is the most crucial component of easing uncertainty and fear. Being transparent, honest, and vulnerable, all while being a good listener and providing opportunities for feedback are all essential elements of good communication.  

Though communication is what dominated the conversation, here are some other tips leaders shared:

Q4: What dream about the future of education are you not allowing yourself to dream because the perceived risk is too high?

Amazingly, despite the question posed, many educators responded that they never stopped dreaming and are, indeed, dreaming every day for a better future. If anything, as superintendent Bob McBride pointed out, the pandemic is “forcing fluidity, change, and innovation in the structure and delivery of learning that is opening up so many possibilities for the future.”

The most popular aspiration among those in the #suptchat was to have full-time in-person schooling, where students can go back to having a “normal” educational experience.  

Some others that stood out to us were:

Q5: How are you working to empower those that are typically marginalized by current institutions within education?

Closing the digital divide has been a focal point for district leaders since the beginning of the pandemic. With a new school year beginning, lack of devices and broadband access is still a pressing concern for many:

District leaders are making decisions knowing that equity gaps have only been growing since March. Many are expanding their support interventions and practices, as well as reviewing policies and procedures that marginalize others:

Q6: How does your classroom/school/district adequately prepare kids for their tomorrow? For their tomorrow a decade from now?

Schools’ digital infrastructure will be heavily upgraded following this past Spring semester:

Something that couldn’t be emphasised enough was the importance of socioemotional learning, and equipping students with a resiliency toolbox:

According to a lot of educators, post-secondary readiness programs will never look the same, and schools must be preparing their students for a rapidly changing world:

Q7: How are connecting with and supporting your colleagues during these unprecedented times?

Opening lines of communication between leaders is key in challenging times.

As some educators put it, the field is #BestTogether — this involves healthy doses of self-care and routine check-ins:

Q8: While leading through a global pandemic, what is one "silver lining" you have found?

Despite the challenges, some educators expressed appreciation for the time spent at home with loved ones:

Equity, compassion and collaboration are now at the forefront of every conversation:

In unprecedented times, educators are now rethinking and reimagining the possibilities of schooling:

Lastly, amidst this crisis, the rest of the world is finally appreciating educators for all the work they do:

Some closing remarks from #suptchat moderators:

For more, follow @PAPERLearning on Twitter. Click here to see the entire #suptchat!

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About PAPER

Founded in 2014, PAPER is an Educational Support System (ESS) providing students with 24/7 unlimited tutoring & essay review sessions, and teachers with real-time feedback and intervention tools. Paper partners with districts across North America to close the achievement gap and support educational equity.