A Roadmap for Schools and Systems

Navigating This Year and Beyond in a COVID World

 

OverviewA Call to ActionRoadmapAccess SupportFAQsAbout Us

Chart a clearer, equity-centered and human-oriented path forward.

In a COVID world, school and system leaders nationally are grappling with a new set of questions: How do we meet the immediate needs of our students, families, and staff? What should we be planning for as we complete the immediate set of post-closure related steps and think through summer and beyond? What resources and supports might we access?

The Roadmap provides guidance on all these questions. Covering six areas – Academics and Student Support; Social and Emotional Student and Family Experience; Talent; IT and Operations; Finance; and Leadership – it offers leaders a structured way to think through and access help for the actions schools need to take from now to summer and beyond, while centering their values and their commitment to equity.

 

Use the Roadmap to:

We see the Roadmap as a live resource. As the COVID-19 context evolves, we anticipate making updates and adding resources. We would love for you to stay engaged with us!

Share your feedback with us    Contribute Resources    Get alerted to major updates

Times of crisis often put equity at risk, as the need for urgency overcomes our desire to be inclusive and equitable. These are times when we as leaders are called to lead with head, heart, and backbone, in return for the opportunity to have transformational impact.

Our Call to Action focuses on Equity and Resilient Leadership and provides what we hope is vital guidance to leaders on how to stay grounded in their integrity in the midst of chaos.

Interested in turning the guidance into a personal reflection? Use this template to get started.

Equity
Resilient Leadership
Equity
Resilient Leadership
Getting Started
Academics and Student Support
Social and Emotional Student and Family Support
Talent
Finance and Development
Operations and IT
Resilient Leadership
Getting Started

Getting Started

Overview: The Roadmap is designed to help leaders make sense of key actions across three phases of the COVID-19 era:

  • Phase 1: The Launch (or Relaunch) of Remote Learning
  • Phase 2: Finishing the School Year Strong
  • Phase 3: Assessing and Planning for Summer and Beyond

Getting Started: The Roadmap covers six functional areas: Academics and Student Support; Social and Emotional Student and Family Experience; Talent; IT and Operations; Finance; and Leadership. Select the functional area that is most closely aligned to your role from the sidebar or download the Google doc versions of all the Roadmaps here. Once you’ve picked a Roadmap section, here are some ways in which you might choose to engage with it:

  • If you are interested in particular topics in your domain: Scan the “Roadmap Sections” at the top of the map and click on those of interest. Read across the rows to see specific suggestions across the phases.
  • If you are planning for a specific phase (1-3): Select the relevant phase from the columns on top and scan down to look for guidance related to that phase.
  • If you are looking to bring an equity lens: Read the Equity Call to Action then look for this icon in your Functional Roadmap for further details
  • If you are focused on your people leadership: Read the Resilient Leadership Call to Action and follow the link above each Roadmap for specific guidance tailored to each functional leader.

Chart Your Path: As you review the actions, ask yourself and your team: How important is this action given our context? Where are we with respect to it? What can we accomplish by when? Where do we need clarity or alignment? Where do we need help? Feel free to copy the Google docs version of the Roadmap and mark it up or make edits as you do this.

Get Aligned: Actions preceded by icons indicate that you need to bring a specific lens and/or coordinate with your peers across functional areas. Use these actions as opportunities to connect and align with your values as well as your colleagues.

Get help: For each set of actions:

  • Review linked resources for helpful guidance and examples.
  • Explore sample technical assistance projects to spark ideas on ways in which you can benefit from expert support. Request support here.

NOTE: You may be eligible for grant-funded support Catalyst:Ed is leveraging philanthropic funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to ensure leaders can access quick, affordable, hands-on support from its network of vetted experts and consultants. Schools and systems with 67% or more FRL students and 50% or more students of color are eligible for support. Learn more and request support here.

Academics and Student Support

Roadmap: Academics and Student Support

Introduction: Academic leaders are at the forefront of pivoting the organization to a remote learning model in the wake of COVID-19 and must balance multiple needs. Priorities for now could include:

  • Determine how you will evaluate student progress during remote learning, and how you will remediate lost learning in SY ‘20-21.
  • Determine adjustments to your summer PD strategy and the impact on your SY ‘20-21 instructional initiatives.
  • Develop contingency plans for SY ‘20-21. Reflect on lessons learned (refer to the Design Principles for Remote Learning Plans for more information).

Equity Considerations: Architecting learning solutions that balance the needs and learning environments of your students and making decisions on access, pace, accountability and grading, among many others, are incredibly difficult. Start by understanding your students, their needs, and the impacts of your decisions. Have a diverse set of voices at the table helping you to weigh your decisions. And communicate your decisions with compassion and transparency.

Read more about resilient and equity-centered leadership in this functional area here.

Detailed Roadmap:

Social and Emotional Student and Family Support

Roadmap: Social and Emotional Student and Family Support

Introduction: As a human-centered school system, start first with ensuring connection, then find ways to adapt your remote learning environment to ensure students feel safe, productive, and known. Priorities for now could include:

  • Monitor the level of connection – with staff, with families and within peer cohorts. It’s not too late to shore up the sense of belonging that is critical to learning.
  • Gather data on student access and engagement. Identify where to listen to families’ needs and adjust supports to achieve greater equity in learning.
  • Consider how you will keep students and families informed and connected if ongoing social distancing measures extend into the summer and potentially fall.

Equity Considerations: Never has the partnership with families been more clearly felt than in our current efforts. Bring diverse identities into your decision-making teams, and invite input from families as part of the process. Help teachers and leaders understand unconscious biases they might bring to family and staff interactions.

Read more about resilient and equity-centered leadership in this functional area here.

Detailed Roadmap:

Talent

Roadmap: Talent

Introduction: This crisis is a seminal moment for your organization and its culture. Your staff will remember how leaders showed care and humanity – or how they didn’t. Priorities for now could include:

  • Make near term policy decisions (remote working expectations, flexibility for family care and leave) and communicate in ways that speak to your values
  • Align with your leadership team on how you will approach spring talent decisions (e.g., year-end evaluation, compensation and hiring freezes) with both care and pragmatism.
  • Construct a concrete SY ‘20-21 staffing projection – with an eye on evolving vacancy metrics, hiring freezes, and potential trade-offs on workforce reductions

Equity Considerations: In times of high stress, it can be easy to bypass our equity lens. As a talent leader, take care to listen to diverse voices, and help ensure equitable processes are in place. Watch for the impact of policies on marginalized groups of people, and communicate with care and transparency about the policies and processes that impact your staff and families.

Read more about resilient and equity-centered leadership in this functional area here.

Detailed Roadmap:

Finance and Development

Roadmap: Finance and Development

Introduction: Finance leaders must navigate the delicate balance between helping the organization understand its long term stability, while meeting its immediate needs. Priorities for now could include:

  • Get a solid picture of your current state and engage with your Superintendent/CEO and Board
  • Take measures to strengthen your balance sheet
  • Develop a starting assumption on state funding, philanthropy, and enrollment. Run SY ‘20-21 scenarios and align with your leadership team.

Equity Considerations: As an equity leader, balance financial stability and equity as you weigh the many talent decisions in front of you. Take time to mine your budget models, forecasts, and tradeoffs for areas where marginalized groups may be disproportionately impacted, and make sure that people have transparency into the process and rationale for major financial decisions.

Read more about resilient and equity-centered leadership in this functional area here.

Detailed Roadmap:

Operations and IT

Roadmap: Operations and IT

Introduction: Operations and IT leaders are faced with providing high quality solutions to complex challenges within rapidly changing situations — and managing the ambiguous timing of school startup and building access. Priorities for now could include:

  • Continue to provide authentic family-oriented support with food and tech solutions.
  • Develop remote end-of-year close routines.
  • Make plans for school start with modified opens (with (social distancing measures) or rolling closures

Equity Considerations: As an equity leader, this is a time that taps your balance of creativity and execution skills and seek moments where families feel like they are seen and that they matter. If your first iteration of nutritional services or tech support did not achieve the inclusivity you hoped for, keep at those efforts to help with access, and extend compassion and empathy to users who are overstretched and struggling.

Read more about resilient and equity-centered leadership in this functional area here.

Detailed Roadmap:

Resilient Leadership

Roadmap: Resilient Leadership

Introduction: At its simplest, resilience is defined as the ability to bounce back from hardship, shock or failure. We see resilient leadership as something even greater – it is a calling to create a more human, more vibrant and more equitable future through our response to crisis. In our Call to Action, we identified five guiding principles for resilient leadership:

Principle 1: Put Humans at the Foundation
Principle 2: Set Your Compass
Principle 3: Transform Ambiguity Into Clarity
Principle 4: Create New Agile Ways of Working Together
Principle 5: Pull Up and Place Your Bets


Equity Considerations: As an equity leader, you set the tone about what’s important right now. Under stress, we get tunnel vision, defaulting to what’s in front of us and abandoning things we care about but are not yet automatic. It will take vigilance, then, to ensure all identities are at the table as you make rapid-decisions. Take time to examine policy shifts with disproportionate impacts. And always, bring empathy and listening in abundance.

Detailed Roadmap:

Download

Roadmap PDF    Editable Document

 

Access the support you need to meet the needs of your students, families, and teams.

Even the most effective of leaders and teams can feel overwhelmed as they try to show up for their students and families, provide clarity and care to their teams, and prepare for an uncertain future. It is hard to design solutions to problems you have never encountered before or to execute flawlessly when you have limited capacity.

What if you could tap into the collective expertise of the education ecosystem?

Catalyst:Ed is leveraging philanthropic funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to ensure leaders can access hands-on support aligned to the Roadmaps. Schools and systems with 65% or more FRL students and 50% or more students of color are eligible for support. To apply, click on the button below. Catalyst:Ed will review your submission to determine your eligibility for grant-funded technical assistance.

Request Support

FAQs


Who is in the provider network?

The Catalyst:Ed Expert Network is a coalition of mission-aligned organizations and individuals with deep experience working with and supporting schools and systems and expertise across areas such as remote learning, student and family support, operations and IT, finance and more. They range from large, nationally known organizations to smaller, regional teams, and independent consultants. All network members go through a rigorous vetting process.

How will it work?

If your school or system is selected to receive support, Catalyst:Ed will work with your team to scope a project and identify an expert from our network. Once you make a selection, we will manage all contracting and payments.

What kinds of supports can schools and systems access?

Areas covered can include: Academics and Student Support; Social and Emotional Student and Family Experience; Talent; IT and Operations; Finance; and Leadership. Projects will take place over the summer, and will typically take 2-4 weeks, although some might be much shorter. Here are some examples of the hands-on support you can access from the Catalyst:Ed Expert Network:

  • Designing solutions to gauge student access and engagement to lessons
  • Assessing students in the most important content for each grade level and designing remediation
  • Providing teacher resources and virtual PD to support learning
  • Developing a plan for meeting the needs of specialized populations
  • Developing a survey administered to families and staff to gauge climate and needs
  • Designing remote connection structures and routines to provide continued emotional and social connection and support
  • Developing a talent plan for SY ‘20-21 and checking for equity implications
  • Redesigning staff roles so teachers and other staff are leveraged most effectively
  • Developing staff policies (on leave, remote working, etc.) with an equity lens
  • Developing remote end-of-year close routines.
  • Creating a variety of budget scenarios with varying revenues (based on projected enrollment, state funding, philanthropic revenue, etc.) and costs.
  • Providing executive/Board coaching with a focus on equity and inclusion for leaders and Board members as they navigate this crisis.
  • Planning for potential transition between in-person and virtual learning next year
  • Interested in learning more? Get started by clicking on the button below.

    Request Support

FAQs

Who are the intended users?

The Roadmap for School and Systems is intended for school and systems leaders who are shifting from the sudden shutdown of schools and workplaces due to COVID-19 to help them see key decisions and possible pathways that lie ahead for the remainder of 2019-2020 and beyond. While we believe the Roadmap has broad applicability, it is best suited for mid- to small-sized systems

How is the Roadmap laid out?

The Roadmap is laid out as six intertwined grids, each focused on a different functional area. The grids include a set of key actions for consideration by the leadership team, organized into rows and columns:

  • Each row depicts a sub-component of the functional area - e.g. the Academic functional area includes rows for Instructional Vision and Guidance, Teaching and Learning, and more (see below for a full listing of sub-components across all areas).
  • Each column corresponds to a phase of work:
    • Phase 1 - The Launch of Remote Learning and Student Support
    • Phase 2 - Finishing the School Year Strong; and
    • Phase 3 - Assessing and Planning for Summer and Beyond
How can the Roadmap be used?

We envision that the Roadmap will emerge as a tool for individual reflection and team discussion and alignment. Leaders may want to take the following steps while reviewing their grid:

  • Start with a grid: Select the functional area that is most closely aligned to your role from the sidebar or download all the Roadmaps here (PDFs, Google Docs). Once you’ve picked a Roadmap section, here are some ways in which you might choose to engage with it:
    • If you are interested in particular topics in your domain: Scan the “Roadmap Sections” at the top of the map and click on those of interest. Read across the rows to see specific suggestions across the phases.
    • If you are planning for a specific phase (1-3): Select the relevant phase from the columns on top and scan down to look for guidance related to that phase.
    • If you are looking to bring an equity lens: Read the Equity Call to Action then look for this icon in your Functional Roadmap to further details
    • If you are focused on your people leadership: Read the Resilient Leadership Call to Action and follow the link above each Roadmap for specific guidance for each functional leader
  • Chart Your Path: As you review the actions, ask yourself and your team: How important is this action given our context? Where are we with respect to it? What can we accomplish by when? Where do we need clarity or alignment? Where do we need help? Feel free to copy the Google docs version of the Roadmap and mark it up or make edits as you do this.
  • Get Aligned: Actions preceded by icons indicate that you need to bring a specific lens and/or coordinate across functional areas. Use these actions as opportunities to connect and align with your values and your colleagues. The icons are:

heart DEI finance Finance instruction Instruction SEL Social and Emotional IT IT and Operations talent Talent resilience Organizational Resilience

  • Get Help: For each set of actions:
    • Review linked resources for helpful guidance and examples.
    • Explore sample technical assistance projects to spark ideas on ways in which you can benefit from expert support. Request support through the “Resources” section.
I am looking for guidance related to a specific area. Which functional grid should I look at?

Here’s a guide to the sub-components under each area, with quick links to each:

Academic: 

Program Development and CommunicationInstructional Vision and Guidance | Family Engagement
Instructional SupportsTeaching & (Distance) Learning | (Remote) Instructional Management | Professional Development
Differentiated Learning NeedsRemediation Supports | Specialized Populations | English Language Learners
Formative Feedback and DataMonitoring and Assessment | Grading and Promotion
Post-Secondary Supports College and Career Readiness

SEL:

Vision for Social and Emotional Student and Family Support | Building Connection | Student and Family Well-Being | Creating a Fortified Learning Environment

Talent:

Vision and Values | Building Connection | Staff Expectations | Managing Capacity | Employee Needs (PTO, Extended Leave) & Assistance | Compensation | Open Positions and Promotions | Contracts, Renewal, and Performance Management | Performance Pay | Certification | Recruitment, Selection, and Hiring | Onboarding Processes

Operations and IT:

Technology | School Operations | Food | Student and Family Services | Enrollment:  Current Student Retention | Enrollment:  New Students | Procurement | Attendance/Data Systems | Facilities | Governance | Compliance and Authorizer Relations

Finance:

Managing Your Current Fiscal Year Budget | Enrollment and Growth Shifts | State Funding | Grant Management and Fundraising | 2021 Budget Process | Workforce Changes and Talent Needs | Debt Management | Audits and End of Year Close-Out Strategies

Leadership:

Put Humans at the Foundation | Set your Compass | Transform Ambiguity Into Clarity | Create New Agile Ways of Working Together | Pull Up and Place Your Bets

How is equity centered within the Roadmap?

Because we believe leading with diversity, equity, and inclusiveness is foundational to every leader’s role, we have embedded DEI considerations across each of the functional Roadmaps. These considerations are outlined at the beginning of each grid and marked with a heart icon. While every decision calls us to consider equity and inclusiveness, this icon is used to indicate specific actions within each Roadmap that may require particular attention and consideration from an equity perspective. More generally, we outline four equity principles for consideration in our Call to Action.

How was the Roadmap created?

Recognizing the immediate need for a resource like the Roadmap, Catalyst:Ed and Leading Elephants worked with experts across each functional area to complete each functional grid. We also worked with equity experts to ensure that equity considerations were centered within the Roadmap. See list of contributors here.

How can we contribute?

Our hope is that the Roadmap becomes a living tool - used by leaders, teams and providers to spark discussions, identify next steps and diagnose where solutions are needed to address complex challenges. To contribute to the ecosystem of resources, we encourage you to:

  • Contribute resources using this link
  • Tailor roadmaps for your context, and share examples with us via email at us at [email protected]
  • Request a tool or other support from a provider here
Who should I contact with questions?

Email us at [email protected]. We would love to hear from you!

About the Roadmap

The Roadmap reflects the creative capacity that is unleashed when many hearts and minds come together for a single purpose. This labor of love distills the collective wisdom and expertise of an array of leaders – from the leaders of schools and systems to the ecosystem of professional service providers, nonprofits, and funders that support schools.

The brainchild of Catalyst:Ed and Leading Elephants, the Roadmap was conceptualized, designed, and developed over three intense weeks. As school and system leaders nationwide grapple with the fallout of COVID-19 and related school closures, we saw a need for a resource that would help them navigate the uncertainty and see clearer, equity-centered and human-oriented paths forward. We also saw the opportunity for school systems and providers to work together to fill critical needs for solutions, tools and guidance.

Finally, the heart of the Roadmap is its underlying focus on equity-centered and values-based leadership. Times of crisis often put equity at risk, as the need for urgency overcomes our desire to be inclusive and equitable. These are times when we as leaders are called to lead with head, heart, and backbone, in return for the opportunity to have transformational impact. The Equity Call to Action and our principles for Resilient Leadership provide what we hope is vital guidance to leaders on how to stay grounded in the midst of chaos.

About Us

Catalyst:Ed is a national nonprofit that unlocks the collective expertise in education to catalyze innovation, improvement, and equity. In the process, we are democratizing access to expertise,amplifying the impact of the sector’s brightest talent, and reimagining how organizations learn and build capacity. Learn more about how we activate diverse networks of expert talent, connect organizations with expert support, and inform the work by capturing and disseminating insights here.

Leading Elephants is a coaching, consulting and training organization focused on fostering dynamic leadership, inclusive change and vibrant organizational cultures. Emphasizing a three-dimensional model of leadership—head, heart and backbone—our work is both pragmatic and human-centered. We help leaders harness their full range of capabilities and lead through a balance of clarity, compassion and conviction. Learn more about our services, resources and events here.

Thank You

Many generous school system leaders, funders and providers contributed their wisdom and feedback to make this Roadmap a reality. A special thank you to:

(in alphabetical order by last name)

Elizabeth Aguilar (Voices College-Bound Language Academies)
Jay Altman (formerly, FirstLine Schools)
Cheyenne Batista (Firefly Worldwide Inc.)
Sujata Bhatt (Transcend Education)
Becca Bracy-Knight (The Broad Center)
Lesley Brown-Rawlings (Beloved Community)
Andy Calkins, Amanda Avallone and Liza Veto (Next Generation Learning Challenge)
Tommy Chang (Great Public Schools Now)
Jessica Cohn (Independent Consultant)
Travis Commons (Valor Collegiate Academies)
Elise Darwish (Ensemble Learning)
Ellen Dorr (Rendon Public Schools)
Elana Feinberg (Elana Feinberg Educational Consulting)
Kirsten Fell (First Line Schools)
Margarita Florez (Chan Zuckerberg Initiative)

DeLano Ford, Julie Kennedy, Jamey Roberts and Jason Shaad (Charter School Growth Fund)
Andrew Goldin (Summit Learning)
Susan Enfield (Highline Public Schools)
Miwa Kamras (MPKamras Consulting)
Shyam Kumar (North Star Education Partners)
Anupam Mishra (Aspire Public Schools)
Alexx Poston (Alliance College-Ready Public Schools)
Beth Rabbitt (The Learning Accelerator)
Jon Schwartz (Wildflower Schools)
Kaya Stone (KIPP Foundation)
Jill Hawley and Brandee Tate (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation)
Rasheeda Washington (Beyond Sixth)
Remy Washington (Uplift Education)
Noah Wepman (New Leaders)
Judy Wurtzel and Shayne Spalten (Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation)