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Leading Edge Blog

Equity, Engagement, and Academic Excellence: Essential Leadership Practices for Every Ohio School and District

Guest Blog by: Dr. Douglas Reeves, Founder, Creative Leadership Solutions, @DouglasReeves

I'm excited to join the Ohio Leadership Advisory Council (OLAC) and the Ohio PBIS Network on December 15 as we learn together about how to address the most challenging issues in educational leadership. In my interactive keynote address, we will consider six key leadership challenges and solutions in these areas, including:

  • Digital equity: What do leaders need to do beyond the delivery of computers and connectivity? How do schools measure digital equity? How can educational leaders track their progress toward digital equity every week?
  • Beyond conversations about race: In collaboration with a diverse group of colleagues, I have developed scenarios appropriate for all grade levels so that students, faculty, parents, and community members can get beyond mere conversation and address the practices and policies that will allow us to deal with the most challenging issues of our time and have constructive conversations about race and racism.
  • Grading in a pandemic: Traditional grading systems are creating a dropout time bomb. Policies such as "miss 10 days and you automatically fail the class" and the use of the average to calculate final grades are driving students away from schools around the nation. Rather than building resilience as an essential skill for students, traditional systems actively undermine resilience and perseverance—both critical social and emotional qualities we should encourage.
  • Building leadership capacity: The pandemic has created exceptional opportunities to identify, document, and replicate emerging leaders at every level. There are wonderful examples of teachers helping teachers to adapt to a blended learning environment. Great administrators are nurturing one-to-one support among their faculty members. The next generation of leaders will emerge from the current crisis.
  • Self-care and burnout: Leaders around Ohio and the nation have shown remarkable dedication since March 2020. They are doing home visits and dealing with COVID-related illness and deaths on their staffs and in their own families. The selfless commitment of Ohio leaders is second to none. But, here is the essential message: Heroism is not a sustainable strategy. It is not selfish or immoral to take time for self-care, wellness, family, and renewal. Great leaders do not go it alone or attempt to engage in heroic self-sacrifice. Rather, they build teams that will sustain their ideals and values.
  • Excellence: We cannot sacrifice our commitment to academic success and excellence at every level—learning, teaching, and leadership. The evidence in 2020 is clear—equity and excellence are not a trade-off. We can and most do both.

This keynote will be an interactive experience, with all participants engaged in sharing their insights and ideas. Ohio has led the nation for more than 20 years in the rejection of the bell curve and the embrace of the best ways to focus on learning and equity. We have miles to go before we sleep, but if any state can do it, Buckeyes can.