Adaptive Tools for UNcertain Times

Adaptive Tools for Reopening

Starting Strong:

Every year we hope for a smooth start.  Every year brings surprises … wrinkles that always take more time to resolve than we expected.

Here are some tips and tools for starting strong from a group of great superintendent colleagues:

Getting ready for reopening … Before … During … After:

Four suggestions on what to think about in the first few weeks:

  • Before: Logistics for a smooth start and quick problem solving
  • During: Visibility to let everyone know how glad you are to see them
  • After: Counting students and allocating staff
  • Best tool ever for helping everyone adapt


Logistics for a Strong Start of school plan … trust and verify these key steps

  • Ask key players … especially your operational team … for:
    • Their check list for the start of school
    • Red/Yellow/Green categories of readiness
    • Our typical snags with the start of school
  • Ask school supervisors to check with Principals
    • Are schools ready? Do they have supplies?  Books? Furniture?
    • Bus loading plans? Attendance taking plans?
  • Schedule stand up meetings for the first few days: 7:00-7:30 (30 min; start/end on time)
    • Make a punch list; assign responsibility; report back tomorrow
    • Make it visual … on a white board … electronic spread sheet
    • Close the loop with principals … checked off … or report on progress
    • In essence … “we heard you … we are on it”

During those first few days of school:

  • Visit schools … and ask your cabinet to do the same
  • See and be seen …
  • Post to social media
  • Report back to the board … with kudos … and transparency on problems (and solutions)

After school starts:

Meet after school on the first few days to compare attendance numbers:

  • Check to see if there are clear attendance processes
  • Do we have veteran secretaries/registrars?
  • How well does the process usually work?
  • Are there day over day #s for first few days of school attendance?
  • If not, start now to build a base line for future years.
  • What usually happens with over/under enrollment? Do you transfer kids; teachers?
  • One rule of thumb: rebalance K end of first week; elementary end of second week
  • Share the above with principals … This is what we are thinking now …
  • Schedule some key dates (sixth day?) to meet with principals about any needed adjustments
  • Do an “all hands” zoom … come if you can … to share weekly updates with principals
  • Under promise over deliver

Core Practices … best tool ever for UNcertainty:

For issues that are “bigger than a bread truck” … and apply to more than one school:

  • Call the meeting
  • Invite those affected … hear everyone out
  • Use Core Practices Template below to capture and share best thinking
    Talk with your team in advance about how you might handle the first COVID outbreak.
    What is our primary purpose; our non-purpose?
    What “practices” might work best?
    How will it look and sound to the different audiences we serve?
    This tool will help you build competence and confidence across your team

– Larry Nyland, leadership coach and consultant

Core Practices Protocol Template

Classroom Practices: Classrooms have a dozen or so “practices” that “just happen” without much district thought or regulation:  Grading, Behavior, Discipline.

School Practices: Schools also create practices, which probably vary across buildings.

District Practices:  What are our district practices … which don’t quite become policy or procedure?
Problem Solving.  Communications.  Decision Making.  Core Values.

These are not “rules” or “regulations” … more like guidelines for good health.

Here is one format that you might use … modify … fill in … create … “best practices.”









Looks like, feels like, for:

❑  Community:

❑ Board/Superintendent

❑ Supervisors:

❑ Principals:

❑ Consulting Teachers:

❑ Teachers:

❑ Students

❑ Parents


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Larry Nyland speaking

Larry Nyland – Leadership Coach and Consultant.
Seattle Schools superintendent 2014-2018

To talk about growing extraordinary "high capacity" leadership for your team …
Contact: | 425-418-4398 |