“A brave leader is someone who says I see you. I hear you. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m going to keep listening and asking questions.” – Brene Brown
In these times of uncertainty, the world is looking for leadership. Luckily, many people are stepping up in big and small ways to lead their families, their students, and their communities. It has been inspiring, though not surprising, to see the charter sector lead on issues of mental health, nutritional sustenance, and e-learning.
As community leaders, authorizers are often looked to to provide guidance and answers. But during this time of so many unknowns, many authorizers are feeling unsure of how to proceed. What about the lotteries that were scheduled for April? What about next year’s renewal decisions? Site visits? There are certainly many questions without clear answers.
Yet being a leader doesn’t mean having all the answers. Last week, NACSA hosted a community conversation with authorizers and support organizations, and we had the pleasure of hearing from Daphne Robinson, a former authorizer and current school leader. Daphne was asked to share her perspective on what school leaders need and are desiring from their authorizers. This is what she said was the most important thing authorizers could do right now: LISTEN.
To her point, different schools are going to need different things. For her school and many others, the biggest concerns are the children’s educational progress, as well as their social emotional health. Some are consumed by figuring out day-to-day operations and are looking to authorizers for thought partnership or logistical support. Others may need their authorizer to advocate for flexibility on state regulations. And others just want to be left alone for the time being. But an authorizer won’t know until they ask school partners ‘What do you need?’ and really listen to those answers.
Taking Daphne’s message to heart, we at NACSA are taking some time to listen. We understand that our members and partners have questions about changing policies and authorizer best practices right now. To be clear, we are working on gathering resources, compiling lessons learned, and tracking both COVID-19 related state and federal policies. And we will share out any answers as they come. But in this moment, we really want to be brave leaders and seek out what YOU as authorizers need from us. That’s why we are hosting multiple webinars and hosting member forums (NACSA members may login to AuthoRISE to use community forums to get help and thought partnership from authorizing peers across the country. Please keep your questions, ideas, concerns–everything, coming. Let us know how we can help.