Think Optimistically (Insights for Principals Series)

The COVID-19 pandemic has created ongoing uncertainty and, for many people, considerable anxiety. Aside from leading confidently, it is imperative that leaders also think optimistically. The five tips provided below reflect the need for an attitude that sees beyond the harsh realities of the current situation and believes that out of a crisis comes opportunity. As the philosopher Michael de Montaigue is quoted as saying, “I am an optimist. It just does not seem much use being anything else.”

  • Do not simply adopt an attitude of ‘cutting expenditure’. Revaluate and redirect expenditure by all means but do not just ask ‘Where are we wasting money?’, instead, ask ,‘Where can we achieve the greatest impact with the money we do have?’
  • Use this time as a mandate to re-evaluate your school’s priorities. While downturns do tend to expose poor performance, they also provide an excellent opportunity to make the painful decisions that have been put off. There can be no better time than now to realign the focus of your school, reduce ‘the fat’ and to improve flexibility and responsiveness to emerging educational imperatives.
  • Increase costs to decrease costs. In some instances, you may be justified in increasing costs to decrease total costs. For instance, you may have to develop further incentives to attract the right people. The right people in the school will increase impetus and improve student success.
  • Maintain investment in Professional Development. During a downturn avoid the temptation to abandon or downscale training and development budgets and programs. Doing so will negatively impact both leadership capacity and teacher effectiveness.
  • Read widely. There will be no shortage of advice and suggestions available from experts (and your Board no doubt). Despite the tyranny of your workload, set aside time to explore practical and relevant responses to educational trends generated by the pandemic crisis.

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