school leadership and the coronavirus

International School Leadership and the Coronavirus – a time for global education leadership!

What an amazing job teachers are doing all around the world. We continue to hear incredible stories framed by a determination that never ceases to amaze me. Teachers always want what is best for the kids. They are thinking out of the box, taking extra steps and pulling things together under sometimes extreme conditions.

So what is our role as school leaders? How can we make a difference? Some teachers might say “by getting out of our road.” ūüėā

Fair point! Here are my thoughts on what your support should look like.

“In the end, it will be impossible to know if we overreacted or did too much, but it will be QUITE apparent if we under reacted or did too little”.

A School Superintendent (Source unknown)

Be the Voice

Your community is looking to you for leadership in terms of the coronavirus and you need to be that clear, confident and comprehensive voice. They need to get accurate information and you don’t want them to search for it from non-credible sources. If they get clear comprehensive information from you they’re less likely to look elsewhere and they will be confident in your clear message. We have listed some credible news and information sources below.

Be the Voice – of Reason

We all know that the leadership is essential for management of the Coronovirus in a school context. It has created panic and hysteria in some quarters. Chaos and reactive behaviours do not create effective pathways forward. Everyone has a right to be concerned but you have the opportunity to be the “calm within this storm”. Communicate facts. Use credible sources and be the voice of sensible reason. Your community will follow this example.

Be the Voice – of Stability

Remember, you already have very clear systems in place. You have security. You have standard protocols for everything from head lice to major physical threats. You have communication systems and procedures to follow. Just dial them up a little, or a little more. If your community feels like you are introducing wholesale changes and reactive and radical new practices they may have every right to feel fear. Adjust your current systems to levels appropriate but don’t radically change the way you do business, unless you really have to. (Some schools have had no choice)

Be the Voice – of your Vision

No doubt, central to your mission and vision, is a belief that safety, care, concern and education quality are at the forefront of all that you do. Once you have clear systems in place for safety keep education at the forefront of what you do. All throughout Asia, schools are going to incredible lengths to maintain the very highest quality of education they can provide. Schools that have closed partially or temporarily but are doing an amazing job, sometimes with limited resources, to continue education online. Celebrate and encourage your teachers who are doing an amazing job! Celebrate your students and parents. “We are all in this together,” is the spirit and tone of everything you are doing. No apologies. No compromises. From this crisis you can demonstrate how much you care and truly live your vision and mission.

Be the Care Taker

Teachers are working under VERY unusual circumstances. They are under a lot of pressure. It is a time for “Service Leadership.” Servant leadership¬†is a¬†leadership¬†philosophy in which the main goal of the leader is to serve others. A Servant Leader shares power and puts the needs of their staff first. In many ways you need to see staff as your “customer” or “client”. You and I know that if teachers do a great job under these challenging circumstances then everyone will reap the benefits of it. Acknowledge this and support them to do so. Kind encouraging words. A chocolate bar. an extra effort to solve a problem faster than they expected it to be solved. Your staff are always invaluable to you but right now that is even more so.

Stand against Xenophobia

There is a lot of misinformation and there are a lot of people playing politics. Xenophobia is running rife. These are the opportunities where international schools can take a firm position on values, beliefs and be truly international-minded. You know what do do. Live your mission. If you want to read further on this topic check out the following articles and/or find others that are balanced and newsworthy:

We must halt the spread of xenophobia surrounding coronavirus

Asians worldwide share examples of coronavirus-related xenophobia on social media

Coronavirus: outbreak has stoked a rise in xenophobia, Chinese living abroad say

Credible Sources of information:

school leadership and the coronavirus

World Health Organisation

On this website you can find information and guidance from the WHO regarding the current outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that was first reported from Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019. Please visit this page for daily updates.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USA)

John Hopkins University

Experts at the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at the John Hopkins University in Baltimore have been monitoring worldwide developments on the virus and sharing their findings via an interactive, tracking map in real-time.

Public media

Although trust in media is recently at unprecedented low, public media is still widely regarded as  the most trusted form of news, particularly in times of crises and emergencies. Your local news and information should be checked regularly and reviewed.


This article does not aim to be the definitive resource on facts and strategy. Many schools are doing an amazing job. Keep up the great work. “Integrity”means so much in these situations. Don’t grandstand. Don’t promote fear. Don’t kick back and relax. You have a job to do and there is a very good chance you will find your best course of action reflected in your school vision. Hang in there. You can use this as an opportunity to demonstrate who you really are as a school.

CEO and Education Expert Greg Parry

Internationally renowned for his expertise in education leadership, Greg Parry’s vast experience includes leadership of projects for edu-cation institutions throughout Australia, the Middle East, the United States, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and China. Recognised for his numerous contributions in the education arena, Greg has received the Ministers Award for Excellence in School Leadership based on improvements in school performance and a range of successful principal training and leadership development programs, as well as the School of Excellence Award for Industry/School Partnerships and the School of Excellence Award for Technology Innovation. His company GSE (Global Services in Education) has been recognised as having the Best Global Brand in International Education in 2015 and 2016.

Considered one of the premier experts in his profession, Greg has trained teachers and principals throughout the world in areas such as critical thinking, language development and leadership. His expertise in school start up projects, leadership and curriculum development, has made him a sought after authority in these disciplines.

Global Services in Education set up and operate schools in all parts of the world. Governed by a philosophy of global citizenship, every member of the GSE team shares a passion to help shape international education and student achievement through inspiration and collaboration.
Our goal is to meet the highest objectives of every school, teacher, student and parent, with an unwavering dedication to quality education, shared ideals and intercultural perspectives.