In my 30-year career, I have never been prouder of public school educators as I am right now. My “family” here on the TASA staff is included in that assessment.
Schools across our state and nation have completely redesigned learning systems from in-person to at-home, overcome tremendous challenges to feed millions of children who aren’t in school, and dealt with all of the communication, wellness, facility, special ed, and technology issues in impressive fashion. Our school leaders have led with grace and empathy first and foremost, but their incredible competence, professionalism, and management skills cannot be overlooked. In the most difficult of times, you have risen to the occasion.
Likewise, I could not be prouder of our team at TASA. We had experimented with working from home some during the past year to allow staff to avoid the crush of Austin rush hour traffic. We found that our productivity ramped up while we had fewer distractions, less time in mind-numbing gridlock, and more time to strategize. Even still, we all spent most of our time in the office working together in person. I miss the daily interactions, walking by each office to check on people, chatting by the coffee pot, and the occasional staff happy hours. As an extrovert, I am ill-prepared for social distancing. I miss my team.
What is remarkable, though, is that they have redesigned pretty much all of our professional learning on a dime, much like our schools have redesigned learning for our students. For instance, we were super excited about a new format for our summer conference that would have focused entirely on advocacy. We even had a fun name – TASA TxEdFest. The website was ready to launch, and we were going to start advertising it the day after spring break. That didn’t work out so well.
We had to shelve our plans for that conference, and cancel hotel contracts and speakers. But in its place, we are introducing TASA Virtual SummerCon, our first-ever virtual conference, which will be offered June 9-12. We are designing it with a focus on helping schools plan for the uncertainties of the next school year. We just opened registration for it, and we hope it is “THE place for school leaders to be” this summer. Our goal is to give your entire administrative team the resources and inspiration you need to deal with so many new challenges.
We are also holding TASA Live Virtual Events every other Thursday, in collaboration with our partner, Thoughtexchange. These events allow school leaders to gather remotely to discuss the most relevant topics of that day, such as graduation plans and closing out the year. In fact, because things are changing so rapidly, we typically select the topic only a day or two in advance to ensure it is relevant to you. We have had 100-200 people on each call.
Finally, we have introduced the Inspiring Leaders podcast series, which highlights some of our best thinkers and school leaders who help us address the varied new issues you are facing. TASA Chief Learning Officer Eric Simpson has done a remarkable job of putting those together very quickly. You can watch those here.
Likewise, we have tried to make our website, social media presence, and Capitol Watch Alerts timely, comprehensive, and helpful in these crazy times. The bottom line is this: TASA staff – though we’re working from home like so many of you – are here, as always, to help you in any way possible. Much like you, we are adjusting everything we do to ensure we are fulfilling our vision and supporting public education leaders. If you have topics you would like discussed or ideas for how we can better serve you, please reach out to any of us at TASA.