COVID-19 and Student-Centered Leadership

By Katie Klanderud and Paula O'Loughlin, MSBA Board Development Team

Across our nation, school communities are facing the most unprecedented time in the 21st century. There are no district policies or even state statutes that can provide all the answers that are being asked. While there are numerous factors that currently lie beyond our control, there is one element boards can control, and that is how they lead.

Focusing on what is best for our students’ academic, social, and emotional wellbeing should always be top of mind, but is arguably now more important than ever before. School districts are undoubtedly hearing from families who are feeling anxious, scared, and unsure of what to do. During these times of such uncertainty, our students and families need and deserve a high-functioning, high-performing school board team who has a laser-sharp focus on the needs of all learners.

Get back to the basics

  1. Trust one another — This isn’t a time to doubt the decisions of your fellow board members, your superintendent, and staff. You hire good people and you don’t take on the position of school board member for fun (or the money!), but for the students and your community.
  2. Put away the baggage — We all have times of disagreement. Let’s set it aside and work towards what’s best for all. You don’t have to hold hands and sing songs around the campfire, but decide what is most important right now and focus. For teams that have been struggling, this is going to test you and can bring out the best or worst in you. You decide.
  3. Communicate, communicate, communicate — Keep one another informed and along with your superintendent, move forward with a consistent message. These times are confusing and uncertain for everyone. Clarity builds trust with your team, staff, and community.

Your leadership is being tested. Now is the time for all school board members to work with their superintendents in the most collaborative, supportive, and positive way possible. Let’s set an example.

Learn to lead with the best YOU.

Your MSBA staff is here to assist you in any way we can. Thank you for the critical work you do for Minnesota’s students.


This information was originally featured in the March 18, 2020, edition of The MSBA Leader newsletter.