On this episode of Tackling Tech Podcast, powered by Dyknow, Brett McGrath speaks with Middle School Principal, Evan Robb. Evan is a Ted Talk speaker, author, and progressive thinker. He shares how he cultivates a school environment that is encouraging of risk-taking and how they are making the shift from emergency to intentional remote learning.

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Don’t have time to listen to the episode? Here’s a peek at what’s inside…


Going Back to School from a Principal’s Perspective

Evan shared that going back to school during this time has been challenging given the current state of education in the midst of a global pandemic. He reflected on school closures in March and shared that if you had asked him back then what school would look like in September, he would have said that we would be back to full in-person instruction with students by now. The reality is that we are still dealing with the dame challenges that we’ve been dealing with over the past few months. 

In response, Evan Robb shared three of the biggest challenges his school has been experiencing during this time.

1. Access – the disparities of access during remote learning has been clear, especially students’ access to wifi even when they are provided a device by their school or district.

2. Safety – Evan’s absolute priority has been to make sure teachers feel safe and are safe as they are conducting remote learning. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, if teachers don’t feel safe (basic level need) in the building, they won’t be able to do their job.

3. Professional Development – a challenge going back to school is to make sure that teams are shifting from emergency remote learning to thoughtful and intentional remote learning to make sure instruction is effective and the best experience for students.

Outward Collaboration and Communication with Families

As a Principal, Evan Robb communicates with families and organizes collaboration throughout his school to make sure that there is consistency. In his role, he believes that focusing on communication is one of the most important things that educational leaders can do. He shared that if communication is not organized and centralized, it can get scattered and mixed messages will get communicated externally.

To combat this, he recommends focusing on two things when communicating:

1. Communicate in small chunks

2. Overcommuniating is better than under communicating

Why Educators Should Be Risk Takers

Evan Robb believes that risk-taking is the only way that you’ll bring innovation and creativity into the workplace, whether you work in a corporation or a school. However, the big question is how do you create a workplace and environment where innovation and creativity are valued by leadership?

As a Principal, Evan Robb understands that there is a parallel between what Principals do and say, what teachers do and say, and how this all impacts students in the classroom. Because of this, risk-taking needs to be modeled from the top down. Principals need to model risk-taking for teachers so that teachers feel empowered to take risks in their own classrooms. If teachers model, encourage and promote risk-taking for their students, then students will feel comfortable taking risks with their learning and not just “playing it safe” to get a good grade. 

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