School Leaders & Lessons from the Pandemic with Doug Roberts
May 17, 2022
School Leaders & Lessons from the Pandemic

We’ve all learned so much from the pandemic, and school leaders and superintendents are no exception. In addition, things that we knew from being inside the schools have been spotlighted to the public, thanks to social media and the news media.

While that might be good for conversations around change, there’s still a lot to unpack and many hurdles and red tape to get around.

This week on the podcast, I’m talking with Doug Roberts, an educational consultant who works with education entrepreneurs and district superintendents. He’s recognized the importance of connecting leaders across state lines to help bridge the gaps that are all too evident now.

We’re talking about changes on the horizon thanks to 1:1 models that were realized during the pandemic, why leaders are hitting their limit of what they can give, and the hardest part of being an educational leader.

We need to continue having conversations like this as we strive to give leaders the tools and support they need to continue the impact they desire.

About Doug Roberts:

Doug has worked with leading ed-tech entrepreneurs and district administrators for almost 20 years, developing partnerships that improve outcomes for students and help nascent organizations get their “sea legs.”

As Founder and President of Educational Solutions Consulting, Doug found that there was a piece of the puzzle missing, a barrier between those who run school districts and those who start companies to help school districts. He partnered with some of the nation’s most innovative educational leaders to form IEI to bridge that gap.

A Princeton graduate, Doug is a former public high school social studies teacher and ed-tech business development executive who earned his Ed.M. in Teaching and Curriculum from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

Jump in the Conversation:

[1:48] – What if there were a different way for district leaders to interact and grow as leaders
[4:07] – We have to have time together to percolate
[4:28] – Biggest roadblocks for district leaders
[6:07] – The hardest part of the job is the importance of it
[7:59] – Our most important capital for educators
[9:21] – Key lessons superintendents are learning
[12:01] – We don’t all have to have a traditional school schedule
[12:35] – Leaders are hitting the limit of their ability to give
[13:45] – Great resignation in schools
[14:50] – People aren’t leaving the profession; they’re leaving the traditional public system
[17:07] – Superintendents are thinking about educational competition
[19:06] – Finland’s educational model
[21:50] – We’re asking schools to take whole child approach but we haven’t added to the funding
[24:11] – Create learning that works for all
[27:30] – Doug’s Magic Wand
[30:16] – Maureen’s Takeaways

Links & Resources



Maureen O’Shaughnessy 0:03
Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at education evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how. I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host and founder of education evolution, micro school coalition, and co founder of at active, I consult and train with schools and leaders who are fiercely committed to changing the narrative, reimagining the education landscape, and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive. If you are new, welcome to the podcast, please subscribe on our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around a while, have you left a review?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:07
Hi, Doug, it is so good to have you on education evolution.

Doug Roberts 1:11
Yeah, thanks for having me. It’s good. Good to chat with you.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:15
And listeners. today I’m chatting with Doug Roberts, the founder and CEO of institution for education innovation, Doug works with superintendents across the country to help them find innovative ways to solve problems in their districts. Let’s look at challenges facing today’s school superintendents and the creative solutions that are finding to meet these challenges. So like I always like to start out with kind of the genesis, we know that schools have to evolve to serve our learners. And in this mission, superintendents bear a heavy burden. So I’m curious, how did you come to create a company to support superintendents and what have you created?

Doug Roberts 1:54
Thanks. Yeah, I think we’ve we’ve built an organization to support students, and to support learning outcomes and helping students access gain access to an equitable education. We just happen to be doing that through working with district leaders. And really, I came to it because I had spent years that was originally a teacher, they worked in the private sector, in strategic sales for a handful of edtech companies, and then ran a consulting business where I spent time essentially being a connector between district leaders looking to learn about new and innovative things, and the providers of those innovative things. And I just found that I was having the same conversation over and over again, and in talking with a lot of my superintendent, colleagues and in clients just started thinking through what if there were, what if there were a different way for the industry and district leaders to interact? What if there were a way that can be driven more by district needs? And less just by vendor sales priorities? And, you know, and not for nothing? What if what if there were a different way for superintendents to get time with each other, to help each other grow as leaders there, there are a lot of events that they go to where you hear from hear from experts, or you hear from panels or you hear from academics. And what if we build something where we just hear from each other, and the group kind of self selects for people who want to sit in a circle and share out what they’re working on. So that’s, that’s sort of, that’s the thing we’ve built in. You know, I also heard, I heard a ton of feedback from superintendents that they wanted something that was little less formal, a little more like a little more like a wedding, a little shorter, you know, at a district for less time. So I just sort of put all those elements together to form my and we’ve been at this now for almost five years, and I’m grateful for the people I get to work with. And I think I have just an incredible job. It’s really fun.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 3:53
I love it. And I’m all about synergy. I know. We have an adaptive collective to bring in voices from different perspectives. Danny Bauer has been on my show, and he has principles in masterminds for better leaders, better schools, and we have to get out of the silos, we have to have time together. And we have to percolate. So what you’re creating is so important, especially because it’s super lonely at the top and superintendents are way up there at the top. So I think that’s really impressive. I’m wondering, what do you find are the biggest struggles or roadblocks that face our district leaders?

Doug Roberts 4:29
Well, you just touched on it with with the lonely at the top. So, you know, they’re actually not at the top right, the Board of Ed is so they don’t have colleagues in their district. There’s they got a bunch of people looking to them to be leaders. They’ve got a board that is their boss, and then they have the public who elected the board. So they have the trappings of power. They have some of the kind of, you know, pain points of being an elected official without being an elected official. So they’re still subject to the employment contract that they organize with their boss. Word, just it can be very light and you go through something like what we just went through, it can be, it was a very lonely year for a lot of our members. And, you know, on top of that, there’s been a lot of pressure not to leave physically leave the district during COVID stuff, because, you know, it’s just, it’s, it’s not, it’s been a really rough couple of years. And so part of the role is to be the consoler in chief, the shoulder to cry on the person to vent to, right, the Deputy Superintendent for Student Services is frustrated because of this, or that thing is not happening. And these kids are at risk. And, you know, you’ve got to be able to, you know, sometimes it’s just, that’s the way the system is, we can’t fix it, and you got to be able to, you know, entertain that conversation, or you gotta be able to say, let’s go find some money for something, it’s a job that has the stress of being a public official, the stress of being an entrepreneurial CEO, their budgets they manage, or millions or billions of dollars, and they don’t have, you know, there’s it’s, it can be tough to find that camaraderie except, you know, you go to your county superintendent luncheon, and that can be nice, you can connect with colleagues, the hardest part of this job is the importance of it in the lives of children, and the weight that that carries. And that we, we put a lot on our district leaders, and we expect them to, you know, be all in and fully committed to this job when you know, their suits get paid great money, and nobody is complaining about it, but configure their private sector colleagues who run billion dollar budgets weigh less, right. But we have an average tenure of 2.8 years for superintendents. So you know that that just shows you kind of how fickle these the job opportunities can be. And so, you know, we try to celebrate when somebody gets past that 2.8 year mark, that means you’re, you’re successful. And there are some districts where, you know, if you’re dealing with a community where a lot of the kids you serve are in crisis, or in extreme poverty, or subjected to the kind of legacy of institutional racism, redlining, you know, white flight from districts, those, those kinds of things set up a situation that is kind of out of everyone’s control, where you’re working in a community that that is struggling, and you know, that their struggle becomes your struggle as a leader. And, you know, it can be hard to do that for 20 years as a district leader, or 10 years. So it just, we’ve created a position in maybe the most important thing we do educate our young people, that is extremely hard and requires incredible talent and skill in multiple areas to do it. And it got even harder during this pandemic. And then you got people saying, well, you can’t leave the district to go learn and get better, you can’t, you don’t get mental health, you got to make sure to take take care of everyone else. But you know, it’s it starts to become a very difficult job. And the main, the thing I think that we’re coming out of the pandemic understanding is that empathy is like our most important capital at this point, as educators, empathizing with parents, who were either frustrated because their kid was not in school, physically for a year, or they’re frustrated, because a kid was in a mask where they’re frustrated, because that kid wasn’t in a mask, whatever it is empathizing. And then as leaders, there’s a big focus right now on making sure that the students feel safe, that teachers feel taken care of that staff feel valued. There’s a big bit, a whole lot of empathy going on. And you’re seeing tech that’s built around the latest ed tech solutions around trying to measure how people are doing how people are feeling how kids are feeling. Empathy is getting built into our industry. And that’s not such a terrible thing.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 8:43
No, I agree. I got my superintendents credentials, many moons ago, right after my doctorate, and I have never been a district superintendent, I think it is a huge job. And I just came back from the Independent School heads conferences for the Northwest. And boards boards are so tricky, because they have so many agendas. And oftentimes they have their, their child in the system. So I hear you that that part where they don’t really have that they have a boss, and I think people forget that. I’m wondering, what do you think are some of the key lessons that superintendents are learning from this pandemic?

Doug Roberts 9:22
Yeah, I think it’s it’s the empathy piece that we’ve talked about. I think they’ve seen that least at least in our group, a lot of the things that we were worried about before sometimes I think people looked at them like they were Chicken Little, you know, some of our kids don’t have internet access. Some of our kids are, are not food secure. Some of our some of our kids, they’re not able to, they’re not able to participate in all the stuff we have at school because they have to do things to help at home. Or, you know, what are the learning management system that we procured is really not the teacher don’t really love it or it doesn’t really work. It’s not helping us move, move things forward, pandemic kits. And then we saw the truth that a lot of kids don’t have internet access, our ed tech infrastructure largely did not deliver what we needed it to deliver in March of 2020. And so I think, having the public see that, through, you know, cable news, picking it up New York Times picking it up, all of a sudden, we that the spotlight is on those kids who don’t have internet access at home, we lost some of them, they disappeared. And I think that, you know, using using that sudden public awareness, plus the extra funds that came from the feds to increase Internet access in their communities, that’s that’s been a big, that’s been a big win from from this, you know, don’t let a crisis go to waste, as they say. But, you know, I think the other the other learning has been just around things they were doing, because it’s the way they did it, that some have been talking about trying to change like the calendar, the state, the agrarian calendar, that we have, that we have two months off for, for working on the farm in the summer, right? A very small percentage of public school students still work on farms. And if you’re in an agricultural farming community, then by all means, keep it but there’s probably innovation that can be done there, we build so much of our school schedules around buses and transportation, yet, you know, how many of us take a bus to get anywhere. And so you’ve had districts start to think through? Well, there are other ways to get kids to school, and you’ve got a whole bunch of transportation providers there very early stage, it’s, it’s going to take some time for people to get there. But you know, is the yellow school bus going to be the thing we use 1520 years from now when I can get on my phone and get someone to pick me up and bring me to the airport or whatever. So they’re, they’re learning that there are things that communities might not have accepted before that they might be willing to. Now, there are also a few different ways to skin the cat you can have, you can have schools that are on one calendar within a district and another. So if you prefer the traditional summer break, then you can put your kid in this school and you know, there, there are a number of different things that we’re seeing people kind of pressure tests to try to all in the interest of increasing equitable access to education for the students they serve. And then I think the last thing, the last thing everybody learned is is just, you know, their own limits as leaders, there was some of this, the people I deal with are, I consider them all to be heroic leaders that the time and energy and passion and love they put into this work, you know, but a lot of I saw a lot of people who I didn’t think had had a limit to how much they could give, hit their limit. I’ve seen some of the hardest workers I know who would just like dive in and just solve any problem saying, You know what, I need three, four days off, if I need three or four days off. I bet my district needs a whole week off for Thanksgiving. You know what I mean? So you’ve seen people just maybe things you never I’d never saw before, like superintendents a bunch of hours, went to their boards and said, Let’s just close the week of Thanksgiving. Let’s give everybody a week off. And boards were like, Okay, sure. And they approved it last minute, and everybody has a week off. Right? That’s that stuff that turn on a dime changes don’t really happen in public schools. And I think that what they’ve learned is that they can be more entrepreneurial, not in the sense of starting a for profit thing and making money, but in the in the process, and the way that they do things they can move more quickly than maybe we thought public schools could

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 13:31
love that. Yeah. So I know, superintendents are burning out when you say their tenure is an average of 28 years. I also know that this time is being dubbed the great resignation. And many teachers leaving the profession. I wonder, what are your colleagues? What are the superintendents talking about in terms of ways that they are developing to retain good leaders good teachers deal with self care? I know that’s gotta be a burning issue for your for your group.

Doug Roberts 14:07
It is we just spent a whole summit talking about it. So the first thing is that the 2.8 panier average that a lot of that is because you know, boards decide to make a change, you know, that it’s much lower for our urban school systems than our than our rural and suburban. So, you know, but that is a two way street. There’s also a there’s a ladder in terms of district size and prominence that some folks climb. It’s not that small districts or, you know, lesser, but there’s some folks where they go they go to the 10,000 student district and they get the 30,000 student district hires and then they end up in New York City, right? That’s that’s kind of the way the way it goes sometimes. And so you if you’re good, you get recruited, but yes, that I’m not sure that the great resignation if that’s what we’re calling it. Let’s see what happens first. There’s a lot of talk about it. But sometimes these things can be ginned up on social median and traditional media, we’re anticipating the district leader turnover is going to be double what it usually is, because of this burnout factor, I don’t know that everyone’s leaving the profession, they might be leaving the job of public school teacher union member benefits, etc, or public school administrator. There’s a lot of, but a lot of them are going to continue doing what they’re doing on the private sector side. Esther has has created a marketplace for one to one instruction, intervention instruction, and essentially offering courses in a kind of college style, virtual setting, one to one instructors no longer have to drive around places to go into schools, they can sit at home, and they can work through six, one hour tutoring sessions and call it a day in their shorts, right from their living room or kitchen. So you’ve got new ways to teach new ways to lead, we’re seeing a lot of people frustrated with some of the kind of barriers to working toward equity in public schools going to become leaders for diversity, equity inclusion, in the private sector side, or there are now consultancies and coaching providers who help school districts work on. And help boards frankly, work on being more equitable and inclusionary places. So you’re seeing some talent, go and do that stuff. And I always tell people, you know, if you’re just because I come out of the private sector side, you know, for our members, like there’s no harm and let plenty of really great superintendents, I’ve had really great careers and legacies, and they took a year or two, just to see what it’s like on the other side. And usually they kind of miss the energy that you have from working with teachers and kids. Right? That’s, that’s a real thing. But it can be good experience to see what happens on the side. And I think a lot of people, for better for worse, right now are taking advantage of that opportunity to go do so. But I don’t think we’re losing people from the profession. The thing we’re thinking about as superintendents, though, do we have competitors now are these tutoring companies going to replace, because some of these course providers, you could, you know, it’s but depending on your state, you could string together the credits you need to graduate. So it’s like a new kind of virtual school, the virtual schools that came up in the early 2000s, kind of aligned with the charter movement. You know, it was like we’re at a school. And you know, a lot of the learning was very different than what happened in the traditional on site school. Because it was, you know, watching videos and reading and then getting help on essays and stuff. What we’re doing now is much more like what happens in a physical classroom, but more one to one. And every teacher, including me when I did it, man, I wish I could clone myself and work with all 24 of these kids, right? That’s almost possible now. And it’s very different than what we thought virtual schooling was going to be 1015 years ago, districts have competition. And so a lot of them are licensing these tutoring providers. Tutoring is not the right word, individual intervention or individualized instruction platforms. They’re licensing them and they’re making a sort of portfolio of different ways to provide one to one instruction. When extra money runs out, these things are not inexpensive when extra money runs out. What happens did districts build it into their budget, the smart ones I think, are slowly gliding the Esri funds back and starting to put their general funds in there. But it’s going to be an interesting thing in a few years to see how we finance schools when if if it proves to be successful, that one to one zoom 30 minute coaching sessions can help move the needle for kids.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 18:41
Love that. And I hope we do learn from that. I truly believe kids, most of them need a social aspect. But they also need to not fall through the cracks and be one in a mob. So it’s going to be interesting to see where that balance ends up happening. I wonder you’ve talked about innovations with me before you were talking about a Finnish model and what they’re doing in Finland, in regards to one way to look at meetings that learning differently. Can you elaborate on that? Because that intrigues me.

Doug Roberts 19:14
Very Yeah, we just had two professors from the University of Oulu. That’s o l u, which is like a it’s like the equivalent to maybe what like a Georgia or South Carolina would be to the United States or kind of more rural place, you know, a couple hour flight from Helsinki, but it’s it’s a major teacher, Teachers College. And so Professor Chari and sari came to visit with us. They’re working with one of our member districts, Pickens County, South Carolina, Pickens County, which was a a, I would say, of our districts, probably one of the most kind of traditional, it’s the place where, you know, eight years ago if you were to drop in one of their classrooms, it might look like something you see from movies about the way school looked in 1954 Right, they were just a little more conservative with their pedagogy. And since partnering with these folks from Finland, they’ve gotten the whole system built around their child centered model. They’ve changed how they do things, instructionally, they’ve changed furniture, they’ve moved to doing work on the floor, especially with the little ones, two hands on two, they have a day I call it finish Fridays, where you’re that day, they’re specifically supposed to do these kinds of, you know, child driven, Kid driven activities. Danny Merck, Dr. daymark superintendent there, he likes to tell people like this blows me away, because it’s just very different than where I am here in New York, we allow our teachers to wear blue jeans. And I’m like, you didn’t before but they didn’t. They had a dress code. And now but the Finns convinced them that they should be like, teachers should be comfortable and rolling around on the ground with kids. And so that’s, that’s what they’ve implemented. And then there’s the very, the finished model also says there should never be more than 45 minutes of engaged activity. And then there should be 15 minutes of self directed, you know, which can be break, it can be working on something you want to work on, but you never do anything longer than 45 minutes without a 15 minute break. And so throughout their district, they’ve implemented that for all meetings. So no meeting goes longer than 45 minutes without a break, and then you can check in call. So it means their overall meeting time might be longer. But they’re taking breaks to take care of other stuff during that 90 minute time block. I thought that was fascinating. And we had Danny and and his Finnish colleagues came in, they just sort of shared out what they’re doing there and how they’ve applied, adjusted and applied what they’re doing in Finland to us, you know, because there are certain things about the US school system that just that are completely different than Finland, we’re asking our schools to take a more active role in the whole child in mental health in serving the needs of families, in some cases, dental and medical health, right schools or food, right, schools are more engaged in more aspects of kids lives. And, you know, we haven’t, you know, doubled the funding to schools in the last 10 years, as we’ve been asking this, right, so we’re asking them to do more with less. In Finland, they have a totally different, you know, government model where it’s, it looks more like, like socialism. And so there’s just, you know, there’s just a bunch of money that they can use for all this stuff. So certain things just will will not work here. But there are there, the pedagogical things absolutely can be implemented. And that’s what we spent time talking about. And it was a really nice, really nice set of conversations and really great to learn, learn from from them. And they’ve invited the Pickens County folks go to Finland every couple of years to like, learn and study with them. And they’ve invited some of our members to go do that. So that’s next spring, we’re gonna send a delegation over to Finland to see how they do things.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 22:51
I love that I I tapped into some of their research on on homework and not having it. So hours and hours of rigor right from us, and they get amazing results and holistic care of kids and attention to mental health. So I think we can definitely learn from other models.

Doug Roberts 23:10
Yeah, so that’s not a new thing. The other thing I asked Cory, you know, what do you think is the biggest difference? He said, I run a teacher’s college, he said this on our podcast, I run a teacher’s college, and we have a 20% acceptance rate. So they reject, you know, they have so many people want to be teachers, they reject 80% of the applicants, something like that. And obviously, the pay for teachers there is much, much higher relative to other professions. So they, he’s like, we respect our teachers, we pay him a lot, and everybody wants to do it. Because of that. How you get there, here is a really different conversation.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 23:47
Absolutely. Wow, that’s impressive. And I’m going to get the link to your podcast because I want to make sure we have that in our show notes.

Doug Roberts 23:55
Oh, yeah. Education, thought leaders. I’ll go get it to you.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 23:58
Okay, so we’re talking about all these things that superintendents deal with, and that could be shifting. If you had to kind of summarize, in a nutshell, what do you what would you say are three steps that superintendents or boards or even policymakers could be taking to help create this learning that works for all learners, and maybe to help retain great teachers? There’s got to be some key things that you you want people to be taking action on?

Doug Roberts 24:27
Well, I think number one is start planning for when the federal money goes away now and communicate out to the public. Because in a lot of places here in New York, the schools have to go before the voting public every year for their budget in other places, it’s every couple of years. Other places it’s a you know, the board votes or a city council votes, but you know, whomever you need to get convinced to support your budget. The message should be yes, we got some emergency relief funds. Those funds Were a mere bandaid, when what we need is a tourniquet and a couple of extra bucks to buy a couple of devices and some tutoring is flash in the pan compared to what we really need to provide equitable access to education. And when that goes away, we’re going to be back to where we were before. So we need to understand that. Secondly, I think we can continue to do the things we’ve been doing to, to make our systems more attractive to kids and teachers, I think, I think we need to think about the competitive aspect that there’s gonna be more choice for families, and I’m not talking private schools and charter schools I’m talking about, they’re going to be able to, to move to places that have more of the kind of services they want, if I, if I know that I can, you know, with this crazy housing market, if I can move 20 miles away, and my kid will have access to a one to one instructional coach year round, and my current district doesn’t provide it, I might consider moving. So if some of these course, you know, kind of courseware providers, they’re looking to become schools, and if they can start getting accredited by states, you know, there are going to be options. And so, and that’s what it’s like the Blue Gene thing with Pickens County or the district that’s creating Teacher, Teacher wellness rooms and programs giving teachers time out, you know, some districts have these roles with the teachers can’t work out in the school gym, right? Like, that’s the places that are kind of thinking like, yes, absolutely, we should, like help teachers, access wellness services, those are gonna be the places where teachers want to go work. And if we are struggling to find great teachers, then that the competitive aspect is, is something that I think people need to think through. And lastly, I think this is going to be overly simplified. But it’s important to remember why we all got into this. And I think that’s, that’s been when people have had a tough year and kind of shared at our, at our meetings, you know, like I didn’t get into this to do contact tracing, or get yelled at about masks and all that stuff. But graduation season is upon us. And it can be a good time to reflect and, you know, pick some time off. And remember why we got into this and remember that we can get back to the kind of work we were doing before this pandemic.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 27:20
Yes, absolutely. Those are three great points. And finally, Doug, I would like to end with our magic wand moment. So use the schools from a more systems perspective than many people do. So if you had a magic wand, what would you change? This is huge. What would you change about the whole structure of school systems to get to that equitable learning for everyone?

Doug Roberts 27:50
Funding. That’s just its funding. And, you know, its funding based on need. So the districts that need more should get more money. And but we shouldn’t borrow from the other schools. Right? To do that, that that’s always the thing that with school funding, we tend to and it’s happening in my community right now we’re getting ready to vote in our budget and really nice. People who are well meaning and care about our schools are fighting with each other because some think the budget should be cotton, some think it’s good as is. And that’s what we do with our school funding. So we do it at the state level. You have when they when they redo school funding formulas in the state for state aid, then people start calling it Robin Hood, we’re stealing from the rich, right? That’s it, we shouldn’t have to steal from anybody. But you know, this, that’s why this is magic. One moment, it’s not realistic. But if we can increase if we increase the amount of fun funds we give to schools that need more, that need more mental health professionals that need more, one to one instructional opportunities that need more capital improvements. And then I think if you can include in that increased accountability and transparency so that the public doesn’t think this money is going to waste I think you’d see. You’d see incredible results. They like to say that, you know, it shouldn’t always be about money. And there’s always this narrative that schools are overfunded, but I don’t know. Go go to like, look, I’m very grateful to be a graduate of Princeton, right? You go to that place, you want to see a school that’s over funded, go visit my alma mater, and then go to some of the schools that I visited. There’s nothing over funded by any of it. And I think, you know, that’s my magic wand is that the cynics about spending in public education would would yield and let those who want to fund our schools do so?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 29:48
Absolutely. Wow. What you are sharing is super important. And I’m really grateful that you’ve created this institute for education innovation, to support our superintendents in there. gigantic and often thankless job. And thank you so much, Doug for being a guest today.

Doug Roberts 30:05
Hey, thanks for having me on, I appreciate it

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 30:16
it is so helpful to look at education through as many lenses as possible. I appreciate that sharing the insights of challenges and opportunities that our superintendents face. One part of the equation that most people don’t think about is it superintendents, and also private school heads like I am, have a board to report to. This can be tricky, because outside perspective can be helpful. But sometimes board members add more layers of complexity to an already big job. I’m super grateful to my micro school board, that is primarily parents, and we are working bored. So they help us keep lead prep up and running. Lots to learn from the pandemic. I agree with Doug, the number one lesson is empathy. This is truly our most important capital as educators, I think we also became very aware of how many challenges our kids have in terms of life, internet, food security, personal situations. And now we need to make sure, as Doug said, not to let this crisis go to waste. Let’s be looking at what isn’t working, like the agrarian calendar being driven by buses, and anything else. That’s just the way we do things. We can do better for our learners in 2022 and beyond. It is also interesting to think that our superintendents are often in a similar position to teachers. If they start in a small or rural setting, then some of them are recruited into larger or more urban settings, and also recruited away to other professions. We want to make sure that the job of superintendent is rewarding enough that we have quality leaders attracted to and remaining in superintendent positions. Boards may even need to consider how they protect their superintendent from special interest groups, and other factors that can keep a superintendent from being successful and satisfied. Finally, maybe because I’ve lived in a variety of countries, I find that in the United States, we’re often myopic, we see only our small world. Kudos to Doug for exploring what education looks like in Finland. There’s so much we can learn from other countries, and Finland really has a child centered, successful educational model. But it does take funding to have a number one model. We all need to prioritize our youth and their learning, and be willing to fund the associated costs. I’m grateful to Doug for the Institute of Education, innovation, and the creative collaboration. This provides for superintendents in an often lonely role. It was great to look at education from a superintendents perspective today. As always, thank you for being a part of the education evolution.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 33:41
If you’re finding yourself thinking, I need to do this in my school. Let’s talk about it. I consult and also have a book TEDx talk an online course to support starting learner driven schools and programs. My goal is to help schools and individuals find new innovative solutions to reaching every student. Let’s create an action plan together. Visit to book a call and let’s get started. Education evolution listeners, you are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen, heard, valued and thriving. We need you Let’s go out and reach every student today. I’d be so grateful if you’d head over to your podcast app to give a great rating and review if you found this episode valuable. Don’t wait. Please do it right now before you forget. I really appreciate it. Thank you listeners. Signing off. This is Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education.

Doug Roberts 34:58
All right

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