Principal’s Guide to Surviving Social Distancing

Whether it’s because of “social distancing” or the “stay at home” order, it appears we all have extra time on our hands. But then again, do we? It’s been over three weeks since CoronaVirus aka COVID-19 aka the Pandemic brought all of our lives to a screeching halt. Anyone feel more productive with all this “free” time? Me either.

For principals, at least the principals I have talked to, this is a whole different kind of stress. There is a feeling of working harder. Putting in more hours than ever before. Then, there is the perpetual worrying about students, teachers, co-workers, our own families, EVERYTHING.

Even though it has become more than social distancing over the past few weeks, this guide was created to help you attempt to balance all of this. 

Principal Survival Guide to Social Distancing:

All the Feels….

Let yourself feel all the feels. The first week of Coron-Apocalypse was supposed to be Spring Break. I pretty much laid on the couch paralyzed with emotion for the first couple of days.

“How do I explain this to my own kids?”

It’s Spring Break we could be at Disney World. (Nope! They are closed too.) During Spring Break there was no pressure. Turns out the pressure was building.

Just so happens I started listening to Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly on Audible the week before Corona 2020. What blessing to hear her talk about feeling all the feels. She also encourages us to talk about them with someone you trust. Principals have risen to the occasion in this area. Thankfully Zoom provided a free web conferencing platform to EVERYONE. Are you really social distancing if you have not posted a Zoom meeting photo on social media? 

Watching other school communities start to navigate the unknown first was helpful. It was also more paralyzing. We talked for YEARS about online learning and tools. Years. Then in less than 24 hours in some communities, schools rolled out devices and started “distance learning.” Is it really all we thought it was going to be?

Distance Learning, eLearning, Online Education…

This is totally my wheelhouse! I love everything this makes possible. But wait, does it make everything possible for everyone? Is continuing student education the most important thing right now? What do our students and families really need? There are more questions than there are answers.

The expectations for principals across the country are as broad as the equity is for our kids right now. Virtual office hours. Holding online faculty meetings. Finalizing evaluation cycles virtually. What am I forgetting? I can’t even keep up with all the deadlines coming up.

At this time, starting our third or fourth week of Pandemic Learning 2020, the district I work for is not planning to roll out devices and require anything online, yet. Teachers are sharing resources with families. We are going to come up with grade-level specific calendars for each week.

Detox Your Body…Social Distancing from Food

One of the best unintended consequences of social distancing has been my lack of access to food. I don’t mean that I don’t have enough food and my kids and I are starving. I mean I am not around all the food choices. If there is hidden chocolate at school I will find it. If someone wants to order out for lunch, I’ll be the first to go along. I find stress-relief in a real Coke from McDonald’s and Little Debbie snack cakes.

Raise your hand if you stress eat….Me too! You would think that the fear of getting this virus would land me a  starring roll in My 600 Pound Life? Turns out that’s not the case. I eat when I am frustrated by stupid people. Principals will understand. I am going to leave that right there.

Move Your Body…at the appropirate social distance

Exercise was going to be the original heading for this paragraph. Even I would skip over this section. Exercise makes it sound like you have to work out or do more than one movement or thing. Going for a walk equals moving your body. I walk on the treadmill for 45 min. almost every day. We also go for walks as a family.

Less Is More

We are supposed to be social distancing and/or staying at home. We all want to do all the things. It stresses me out NOT to do all the things. My language of appreciation is gifts. I want to deliver and send gifts to EVERYONE.  However, I also want everyone to stay alive. I want to go back to school. So here I sit, not gifting and it hurts.

I believe the teachers know we appreciate them. Finding the balance of leaving them alone and still supporting them is a big job. Text them, email them, call them….it just doesn’t feel like enough. 

How are you surviving? Our governor just announced we are not going back the rest of the year. I immediately counted the weeks until the last official day of school.

  • SEVEN WEEKS without kids.
  • SEVEN WEEKS of social distancing.
  • SEVEN WEEKS of social distancing.

Turns out I am bringing back Flipped Faculty Meetings, literally!