Standing #ApartTogether in times of crisis
“Keeping our communities safe, and focused on moving forward with hope and creativity, is our path through and out of our collective current reality”
It is vitally important to refocus on the importance of community and leadership, writes Tina Bax, Founder of CultureWorks in Canada.
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer has tweeted her hope that we might stand #ApartTogether in this. There’s arguably never been a more important time to be together. To expand the concept of community that we continually build in our classrooms, to the rest of the world.
In the spirit of humility and service then, here are three communities to consider when we’re trying to take such great care in the coming weeks and months, not just of ourselves but of our world.
- Our student community
Students are top of mind. Most faculty and administrators are working around the clock, gathering data, meeting virtually, and trying to make the best decisions possible for students.
How often do we ask them how we’re doing? Annual reviews, sure. But in this new world, it’s important to talk about it more often. Building one-on-one check-ins into weekly programming. Finding out how they’re enjoying the web-based delivery of content, or not. And finding out why.
We need to ensure we’re talking with students about what’s happening, as well as about their program. What are they experiencing? Do they need help? Problem seeking vs problem-solving is a great approach to helping students build new communicative bridges in the coming weeks and months.
- The community at work: our team
Although parts of our team have been delivering web-based content since last year and developing it since 2014, most of our faculty members made the switch over 36 hours early in March. Building in feedback loops for our entire team is key to continued success.
Hosting virtual “happy hours” for drop-in socializing during traditional workdays allows for informal connecting about the shared experience. Scheduled video calls for all administrative team members to keep people connected and focused from home. And help us remember to step away from work at a healthy time of day, too.
“We need to ensure we’re talking with students about what’s happening, as well as about their program”
- Our global community
Cross-sectoral collaboration has never been needed more. What do we have, that someone else might need? Shout out to the top ten university leader who reached out to us last week, looking to use our program under their brand, to augment summer and short-term courses. Not a traditional solution, but a creative, quick, and effective one.
Whether it’s private-public, or any sector of international education, a comprehensive, far-reaching solution with the most impact can only be found together. Sharing struggles and asking questions on social media platforms.
Opening our minds to work with others who are experiencing the pain or uncertainty in a different way, or with those who can bring different resources to bear on a solution, or even with former competitors: this is problem-solving for maximum impact.
Keeping our communities safe, and focused on moving forward with hope and creativity, is our path through and out of our collective current reality. Let’s not be so hyper-focused on fear and uncertainty that we can’t be the creative leaders we need to be. #ApartTogether is temporary. Success together is forever.
About the author: Tina Bax is the Founder and Chair of CultureWorks, , a web-based English language program based at Brescia University College and Carleton University in Canada. 100% of CW’s online students in 2019 experienced increased English test scores