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Education Now

Back to School - Moving Forward from Here

HGSE experts surface key challenges and concerns for educators, leaders, and families — and share concrete ideas for addressing them.

For the third consecutive school year, the rhythms of our schools are being disrupted by a global pandemic — a pandemic that has laid bare existing inequities across almost every relevant metric. What are your concerns as you start the year? What are the learning challenges you’re worried about, or the leadership dilemmas you are facing? How are schools supporting students, educators, and families as they reacclimate — and in many cases, as they manage the fallout of significant losses? 

A panel of Harvard education experts surface key challenges and concerns for educators, leaders, and families — and share concrete ideas for addressing them, with equity at the center. What the pandemic revealed, and how can we meet everyone where they are today, and move forward?


  • Uche Amaechi, Lecturer on Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education


  • Andrew Ho, Charles William Eliot Professor of Education, HGSE
  • Stephanie Jones, Gerald S. Lesser Professor in Early Childhood Development, HGSE
  • Mary Grassa O'Neill, Senior Lecturer on Education and Faculty Director, School Leadership, HGSE
  • Paul Reville, Francis Keppel Professor of Practice of Educational Policy and Administration, and Director, Education Redesign Lab, HGSE

Key takeaways:

  1. Slow down. Don’t rush to respond to pressures generated by concerns over academic loss. Lead with talking, engaging, and playing.
  2. Truly take care of yourself. Put on your oxygen mask, and then you can focus on helping others.
  3. Before measuring anything, let's use data collection to do an educational census. Where are our kids? Are they here? Are they engaged? After that, we can look at other measures.​
  4. Balance concerns about physical health, mental health, and academic health. It is not either/or. The concerns and challenges are substantial, but addressable, and we can resolve to address them together. 

"The nature of relationships among the adults within a school has a greater influence on the character and quality of that school and on student accomplishment than anything else. If the relationships between administrators and teachers are trusting, generous, helpful, and cooperative, then the relationships between teachers and students, between students and students, and between teachers and parents are likely to be trusting, generous, helpful, and cooperative. If, on the other hand, relationships between administrators and teachers are fearful, competitive, suspicious, and corrosive, then these qualities will disseminate throughout the school community." - Roland Barth, founder of The Principals’ Center at HGSE, shared by Mary Grassa O'Neill


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