This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

May 13, 2020

What Got Us Here Won't Get Us There: Restarting K-12 Education

Normally these Herman Trend Alerts are shorter. As you will see, I needed more words to tell this whole story.

This Herman Trend Alert is written for my subscribers who are leaders. Whether you have a few employees or hundreds of thousands, this Alert is written to give you the insight and perspective you need to emerge from this pandemic situation with your team intact. Having been advising leaders by gathering information from their people for years, this Alert details what you must do---if you are not already doing it. If you are not yet a leader, please share this with your leaders. If you are already doing these things, please consider this message as confirmation and "Bravo" to you.

Obviously, when schools open up this Fall, they cannot afford to have children sitting next to each other in buses, nor can we afford to have children sitting two feet away from each other in classrooms. A long-time veteran of the math classroom and school administration, my friend Sharón Lynn Wyeth has an interesting model for getting students into classrooms this Fall. These solutions are the result of my interview with her.

The Scheduling Solution
Obviously, you want your people to be there for you on the other side of this experience. Some of your team members may be just fine; others may not be doing as well. Smart leaders will be connecting with their direct reports on a regular basis. You want to ensure that they know that you appreciate them and the contribution each provides. You also want to make sure that they have the basic physical necessities like food, shelter, and water. You also want to find out how they are doing emotionally. If they or their family are not doing well, get them help. If you do not have an EAP (Employee Assistance Program), there are many local resources available. Please remember that most of us experience fear of infection---to one degree or another.

The Transportation Solution
By definition, kids sitting next to each other on school buses are not socially distancing. To accomplish the required physical distancing on buses, we are going to need to double bus runs for each session. Multiple bus runs mean that students will need to leave home earlier. As an alternative, it's possible that more parents will choose to drive their children themselves or school districts will redefine who will be expected to walk to school to include those who live a little further away. Two sessions per school day would also solve this dilemma as only half of the students would be attending at any one time. However, it would also mean that buses would be required in the middle of the day so then they would not be available for field trips and may increase the cost for bus drivers for the district.Many employees are missing the social side of working together in a congregate workspace. Though they cannot meet physically, you can convene meetings on Zoom or some other online platform. Celebrate birthdays and anniversaries of employment online. And when you schedule these meetings, why not follow management guru Peter Drucker's suggestion and have each team member bring two ideas for making things better. The ideas may be focused on keeping you all connected or how to get started again or actually any aspect of your collective work-life.

Cleaner Classrooms and . . .
Desks must be wiped down after every group of students. Hopefully, the teachers will not have to become custodians, while the actual custodians may need to increase staff and be given more cleaning solutions. Passing periods will need to be longer to give teachers (or volunteer parents) time to wipe down desks and then provide their traditional responsibilities. Hallways will need to be specially marked with lanes and one-way directions and teachers will ensure that students don't crowd when monitoring hallways.

The Class Solution
Some classes may be taught via Zoom. Classrooms will be dedicated to discussions, presentations, and questions; students will receive material online during the other portion of the day. Classes are 55 minutes each with 5-minute passing periods. By using online videos like those offered from Khan Academy, some classes like math and history may be shorter or meet every other day. Classes where there are only enough students for one class period, like some honor classes, will present a challenge---probably addressed with grouping of all of the honors students into one session or another.

Considerations for Sports
We know that kids love sports, but for the time being, Physical Education will be put on hold. We may have to have a hiatus on regular team sports. The exception will be smaller sports teams of 5 to 10 students. Individual or two people sports of Tennis, Marshall Arts, and Ballet may become more popular. Sports will need to be scheduled mostly on weekends or schools will need to prioritize scheduling to allow the kids to have their afternoons free. Finally, some schools may require all players to have vaccines prior to playing any sport. Some sports rules will need to change and the parents of everyone on sports teams will have to sign a waiver.

Unintended Consequences
Parents opting out of busing will cause more traffic on the streets and/or twice the bus runs will mean extended hours for drivers as well. We will also need to pay teachers more because their days will be extended by at least two hours. Children ought to have classes with their previous teachers for their first six weeks since they have not had emotional closure for the end of their previous school year. This is the same time most teachers spend reviewing previously learned material hence last year's teachers shall do the review. With no team sports, students will not be learning teamwork, and schools will not have the income from concessions or ticket sales.

New Business Opportunities
Whether working from home or going to their places of business, working parents will need before school or after-school care for their children. Childcare centers with supervised computer workspaces for children will be needed; another option would be dedicated and supervised spaces at libraries.

New Sources of Revenue
Wyeth suggests that if a child needs to repeat a class, the parent must pay for the retake. Moreover, increased fund-raising activities on the state level will mean both sales tax and lottery revenues will be needed for education.

Other Consequences
Hopefully, having home-schooled their children for months, parents and society at large will have a whole new appreciation for teachers and education.

Sharón Lynn Wyeth is a best-selling author and radio show host on BBS Radio and iHeart Radio. Recently I was on her show. You can listen at Her bestselling books are available here.

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