Charting Our Horizon: Leadership and Learning in 2020-21

As we embark on this new and altogether unique academic year, the ALP team aligns perspectives on how we might serve together in 2020 – 21.

Note: In lieu of or as a companion to the text format, you are invited to scroll to the bottom of this post for a version in video format.

For me, the last and first weeks of each calendar year are equal parts reflective and aspirational. Without exception, I seek out cozy chairs and meandering hikes with close friends and family to make sense of everything that was and to conspire around what might be. These conversations with the people I love and trust often reveal truths that I sensed but didn’t always have the words to clearly understand.

As educators, we repeat this same cycle in August with our closest colleagues, students, and mentors. On the precipice of this new and altogether unique academic year, I reach out to our amazing ALP team to invite your perspectives on how we might serve together in 2020 – 21.

What will our wisdom reveal? How will we lead within our profession and serve those who trust us in work that feels more urgent and important than ever?

For me, the answers to those queries are grounded in the ALP mission and values that have united us over the last decade. Our commitment to recognize and develop the inherent value of people has garnered deep trust within the communities that know us well. Amid so much hardship and uncertainty, I am grateful to report that our network of partners is expanding substantially.

We have earned the privilege not simply to serve, but to serve in ways that are important to the communities that entrust us with their culture, their needs, and their own unique values.

Summer will soon give way to fall, and we will quickly find our way into the full spectrum of these very special and important learning partnerships. As we unite together in service to these communities, I share an overview of priorities that I sense may shape our collective horizon:

Social-emotional health and equity are lenses, not outcomes. Students, families, educators, and communities face complex, often exhausting realities. So do each of us. This year, we will exercise the privilege of leadership under conditions that will require equal parts grace and conviction. How will we leverage our talent, network, and platform every day, through actions both small and strategic? How will we design with empathy and constructively advocate for voices not equally heard?

Stories will help us more than we imagine. I don’t know about you, but I crave simple, honest snapshots of real people doing good and beautiful things. Details of their tenacity inspire me. Their selflessness and courage radiate. In what ways can we capture the stories of educators this year? What little, crucial things might they say or do that could empower others if they are relayed?

Learner-centered experiences fuel the best virtual, hybrid, and blended models. To me, the biggest pitfall communities face is focusing too much on the learning mode at the expense of the learning role. All learners–be they students or educators–need personal, intrinsic connections to the content and each other. Over and over again, in communities of every size and location, we will draw on our experience and skill to help operationalize this truth.

Community readiness for video learning has accelerated. As destabilizing as it was, the window of forced innovation in the spring required all educators to recognize the potential of video. While many are not yet deeply savvy, educators are more open to virtual collaboration for just-in-time training, coaching rounds, and professional planning. The portfolio of ALP coaching protocols as well as the synchronous and asynchronous video tools available to our team will be put to excellent use this year.

To help others, we will need each other. I can’t emphasize this one enough, folks. Our service to communities is driven by your creativity, professionalism, and courageous leadership. In my most audacious dreams, I never thought I’d be surrounded by so many humble and ferociously committed colleagues. This year will call on us to perform under ever-changing and stressful circumstances. Thank you for contributing to and drawing on the kindness and generosity of our entire team.

How we collaborate, share, and communicate will dramatically improve. If you haven’t heard of, consider this your preliminary introduction. Over the last six months, our leadership team has been hard at work customizing this incredible partnership management platform. We look forward to introducing you to and facilitating ongoing learning opportunities that will enable us to more powerfully work together and create.

The scale and scope of our partnerships continue to evolve. The old-timers know that ALP began its journey in the canyons of the last decade’s recession. While much has changed since then, we remain equally humbled by the trust extended by our incredible partners. We are very grateful to invite you to serve in a growing array of strategic partnerships in 2020 – 21. Together, we will support communities of every size, demographic, and regional location across North America. We will collaborate with school boards, districts, regional associations, states, and provinces to realize purposeful outcomes that will positively impact millions of learners.

We will continue to serve communities virtually for the foreseeable future. As I share these thoughts in mid-August, there are very few communities that are ready to safely host us in any type of onsite engagement. More than anything else, our leadership team values your safety and health and we are committed to stopping the spread of COVID-19. Until incidence and positivity rates decline and stabilize, we will continue to deliver IDEA services in synchronous and asynchronous virtual modes. We are monitoring conditions across all regions and will be in touch with periodic updates on our status.

Team, thank you for receiving my thoughts. I am looking forward to learning from your insights on what the coming year may hold. Your vision, professional goals, and aspirations for this upcoming year will contribute powerfully to what we accomplish together.

I wish you continued health and wisdom and thank you for your service and trust,



Charting Our Horizon: Leadership and Learning in 2020-21 in video format

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