The New Normal


November 7, 2012 by Brad Currie

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The past ten days have been an unbelievable and life changing experience for many people and many educators in New Jersey and beyond. The effects of Hurricane Sandy have altered people’s way of life and how the current school year will play out. A new normal has arose from this natural disaster and will change the way school districts set up their school calendars, communicate without electricity, provide instruction in shorter time frames and educate with empathy. From a personal standpoint as a school leader, I have noticed several things during my ten powerless days off…….

1. Instant alert systems, Twitter and Facebook have provided schools with a reliable method to communicate important information. Many people impacted by the severe weather have been without home Internet access or phone service. Communicating with stakeholders through these mobile device apps is quite necessary.

2. Electricity is essential to life and obviously imperative to schools running in an efficient manner. Investing in back up generators might be an issue boards of education look at with more focus. Partnerships with surrounding school districts and community organizations helps address issues that arise.

3. Strong leaders understand the importance of human safety and don’t rush to judgements just to get the days in. These same administrators should also communicate in a timely fashion and lead with empathy. Keeping a level head and being transparent enables stakeholders to buy into the decisions that are made.

4. The education community around the Tri-state area and across the country for that matter have come together and lent a helping hand to those in need that were effected by Hurricane Sandy. The EdcampNJ group in particular is helping schools with supplies, selling tee shirts and holding a toy drive for kids that have had their world turned upside down.

5. Humans are resilient and caring during trying times. For the most part people are taking these life changing experiences in stride and making the best out of a terrible situation. There is no doubt that communities and schools will come back stronger than ever. Families have taken other families into their homes and provided food and shelter, which to me is truly remarkable.

Hurricane Sandy has provided schools with very challenging circumstances and everyone has learned some valuable lessons. There is no doubt that school districts will evaluate their crisis management procedures and develop “out of the box” solutions moving forward. A new normal has now presented itself and schools have to adapt accordingly. Strong leadership, teamwork and creative thinking will guide school districts through this type of disastrous situation with the success of all students the top priority.

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2 thoughts on “The New Normal

  1. Good post. Organizations as a whole can learn from this experience. Many people lived the need for local councils to organization crisis and planning response systems while delegating roles to liaisons to communicate vital information to residents and utility companies. School leaders in the hardest hit areas have much to manage especially if families have vacated their communities.

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Brad Currie

Brad Currie

Brad Currie is the Middle School Dean of Students and Supervisor of Instruction for the Chester School District in Chester, NJ. He is the co-founder and co-moderator of #Satchat on Twitter. Brad is passionate educational technology and social media in the school setting.

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