Communicate with Students Daily
Students are our primary focus. Digest that. In crises, particularly ones that have economic implications, we can drift from acting and communicating with that truth in mind—students are our primary focus. As our primary focus, our abolitionist rhythms ground and guide that their well-being, humanity, joy, potential, hope, and freedom should be our aims. Want to know a not-so-secret secret? Students know what's happening in the world. By overhearing the news, eavesdropping on a phone call, checking their social media, scrolling their timelines, and talking with friends, our students are more informed than we often give them credit for. Hence, an abolitionist communication approach to actualize humanity and credibility with our students demands that we communicate with our students like knowledgeable global citizens. From the youngest to the oldest student we serve, our duty is to hold their fears, reassure their safety, and answer their questions. We owe it to them. Everyday (yes, every single day) during a crisis is a new invitation—through morning meetings, community circles, do now's, exit tickets, read alouds, center time, reflection prompts, questions of the day, discussion groups, fireside chats, brainwriting, think-pair-shares, concept mapping, chain notes, idea line ups, sketchnoting, empathy mapping, debates, and interactive demonstrations—to communicate and invent hope with our students as we all make sense and make meaning of what is going on in the world.
Communicate with Teachers Weekly
Students and their well-being, joy, and freedom are our primary focus. The way we keep students as the main thing is by recognizing and admitting that our teachers are the most crucial human capital to students being well, joyful, and free. In crisis, then, when teachers are confused and disenchanted, we risk students being confused and disenchanted. How do we avoid confusion? By communicating. How do we avoid disenchantment? By communicating. How do I know? Because early in my school leadership I used to hold to the belief that teachers wanted all the details, and would delay communicating until I had all the details. Hear me, I was wrong! In an abolitionist context where it is clear that freedom is our collective pursuit, details are imperative but not foremost. What, then, is foremost in communicating with teachers? Demystifying what's happening behind the curtain of leadership. As school leaders, we must remind ourselves that we have the privilege of flying between 30,000 feet and 1,000 feet, holding both views and everything in-between within our fund of knowledge. Teachers primarily fly at 1,000 feet with their eyes intensely focused on the classroom of students in their care. Therefore, as abolitionist leaders, we are accountable for reducing the mystery, alleviating their anxieties, and holding space for our teachers to make senses of all the pieces working in tandem. One systematic and reliable way to do this is to create a weekly communication method— email, official memo, videoconference, town hall, or company intranet—that teachers can regularly look toward, amidst the crisis, as a way to get a broader and wider view.