Giving Thanks for School Leaders

This blog was originally written on November 24, 2020

Whether your school is open, operating remotely, or some sort of hybrid, one thing is certain: there’s lots of confusion. Your school leader’s job is to blaze a trail where we haven’t gone before.

What does a leader do?


Think about it! In the face of confusion, fear, and sorrow, school leaders are called upon to be compassionate, decisive, and flexible all at the same time. I’m sure it’s not easy.

Consider these scenarios, thinking about the role of the school leader:

Mrs. Joyner wants to listen to her third graders read their prompt responses. Within the zoom format, she wants to convey to each child how much she cares about their situations. Meanwhile, her dog barks at the mailman, and her toddler cries from his crib. This was supposed to be quiet nap time.

Mr. Walker, a special educator, spends all day on the phone (or on zoom). He’s trying to connect with families of every student on his case load before Thanksgiving break to discuss current progress and develop plans to remedy learning loss. But that means he’s not available to co-plan with his general education partners. 

Allyson (14) takes care of her two younger brothers while their mother works a double shift at the hospital. With one laptop and one chromebook between them, they have to decide who gets to login to class each morning, each afternoon. But sometimes they can’t get an internet signal.   

Ms. Brichler always dreamed of being a teacher. She started this fall with biology 1, but is overwhelmed learning the curriculum, figuring out how to establish classroom routines and behavior expectations, and somehow grading student work. Student teaching didn’t prepare her for this!

Mrs. Gardener doesn’t know what to do. Her daughter Ella has an IEP and was making progress before school shut down. Now Ella cries when it’s time to get online for class and doesn’t understand how to complete the assignments. Mrs. Gardener can’t help her. Luckily her boss agreed she could take client calls from home, so she’s on the phone most of the day. 

Mr. Liam is a retired teacher with compromised health. As a valuable paraprofessional, he supports Phil, a student with visual impairment and physical disabilities. In class Mr. Liam would provide scribe and accessibility tasks and support Phil’s peer interactions. What should he do now on zoom? Will Phil still have opportunities with his peers?

Mrs. Morris was teacher of the year. She has led her department to breakthrough student achievement results for the last two years. But right now, she’s just going through the motions. The assisted living center where her parents live has been locked down with COVID, and she hasn’t heard from them in over a week. 


School leaders are charged with managing safety protocols for their buildings, creating schedules that work for everybody, listening to parent concerns, supervising effective instruction, ensuring all regulations are followed (like IDEA), monitoring school data, and being accountable to district personnel and school boards.

They also deeply care about all the concerns above. 


If you are a school leader, how are you doing? Do you feel appreciated?

In gratitude, I want to give YOU a Thanksgiving present!  No – not a turkey. I wanted to give you something that could support you – maybe simplify your responsibilities and give you something useful.

So I created the School Leader’s Inclusion Index, a tool to clarify your leadership role related to inclusion. Submit the survey, and I’ll send your report with your scores with my appreciation for all you do! No obligation. 

Yes – your school needs you. But pause a moment for yourself. Reflect on the big picture so you can emerge from the Thanksgiving break with renewed purpose and clarity about your role as a leader.

How do you score as a school leader of inclusion?

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