The Association of Independent Schools is a peak professional association that interprets Government legislation and provides high quality advice to school leaders. During the peak of the COVID Crisis (assuming, hopefully and prayerfully that we have reached and passed the peak), one AIS staff member encouraged each of us be forwarding a note entitled “Navigating COVID-19 with Courage”. I wanted to share the story as we are certainly not alone in facing entirely new circumstances that change (and keep changing) how we operate. In fact, it seems that the only certainty is that nothing is certain.
Navigating COVID-19 with Courage (Extracts)
Leading in times of crisis takes courage but it has been done before and we can learn from those who did it well. Leading the community through a crisis is something we know to be one of the many roles of a College Head. The current pandemic, however, is a critical incident stretching us beyond our current frame of reference. So, where can we turn to be able to navigate this unknown terrain with courage?
We offer you this moment to look to the past; to the leadership of Marcus Aurelius, the stoic philosopher and Roman emperor who led his people through the Antonina plague that began in the year 165 and lasted for 15 years. Aurelius never wanted to be a leader and did not have the skills to deal with the crisis but he leaned in wholeheartedly. He adopted agile practices, bringing together talented thinkers and experts equipped with the skills needed to lead the people through the crisis, and to whose advice he listened. He was a learner and modelled learning the way forward, hiring the most famous physician of the time, Galen, to lead medical lectures and anatomy demonstrations to inform and develop the knowledge of the Court. He enabled others. Galen was empowered to lead the efforts to combat the plague. Above all, his actions were a reflection of his core values. Humility. Kindness. Service. Wisdom.
Without a doubt, this is an unprecedented leadership challenge for our time. You are in our thoughts as you navigate it courageously. May your core values continue to steady and calm you as you steer your community through this turbulent sea.
No-one was really prepared for COVID-19. The Federal Government said schools should stay open. The State Premier urged parents to keep kids at home. Parents, in turn, strongly questioned why we were allowing students to attend the College when there was a global pandemic. Others, equally strongly, questioned why the students did not all return at the start of Term 2, given that the situation was improving. All views were valid. Parents care about their kids. So do we.
In such Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous circumstances, there was no other alternative hat to rely on trusted staff to search for a calm, predictable, clear and plain direction which led to an immediate adaption to Off-Campus Learning. Even at the 11th hour we heard of the limitations of the arrangement we had been adapting to and were forced by circumstance to take on a new conferencing platform to us called Zoom. .
One thing is certain through all this. Although we could never have predicted COVID-19 and its devastating effects on the social fabric and economics of our Nation, God, who of course stands outside time, certainly did. He prepared the way for our College through the provision of clear thinking, hardworking, faithful staff who expertly rolled up their sleeves. It is a “we” thing.
I couldn’t be more proud of their efforts in navigating COVID-19 with Courage.