School & District Management

How to Make the Best Decisions for Students: Lessons for All Educators

By Kevin Bushweller — December 09, 2022 2 min read
Conceptual image of balanced weighing the pros and cons.
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Lots of critical leadership lessons have been learned during the pandemic: Be transparent, communicate constantly, resist snap judgements, lean on colleagues for help, and always put students first when making big strategy decisions.

Those lessons are as important now as they were during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years. And they are likely to be increasingly important in the years ahead as schools struggle to get kids back on track academically and ease some of the mental health challenges students are facing. Plus, nobody really knows what new problems will arise in the future that school district leaders, principals, and teachers will have to confront.

That’s why learning how to make smart decisions relatively quickly—and often under difficult circumstances—is going to be a vital skill for educators in any role. Over the past couple years, Education Week dove deep into the art and science of decisionmaking, with articles, videos, and an online discussion.

We curated this decisionmaking coverage to use with your professional learning communities and other PD programs to improve your schools.

How to manage tough calls

vuca lead2

Three superintendents discuss strategies that guide their decisionmaking process amid volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

7 decisionmaking tips for principals

Man tries to find exit from complicated path.

Principals faced some of the toughest decisions of their careers during the pandemic and are now confronting new ones. Here’s advice from peers and experts on how to make those decisions.

How principals should tackle a dizzying array of decisions

Principals who tend to make the best decisions consistently throughout their careers are the ones who put the students at the center of every decision, carefully balance risks versus rewards, and genuinely listen to teachers, students, and parents.

1,500 decisions a day (at least!)

Conceptual image of a path with many markers.

Decisionmaking for teachers is nonstop every school day. Learn how teachers cope with a head-spinning number of questions from students, parents, colleagues, and others.

What is VUCA?

You may not know what VUCA is, but you are living it, because volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity are increasingly a part of school life. Check out our video explainer to learn what it is and why it matters, especially for school and district leaders.

Strategies & tips for complex decisionmaking

Photo of hands gesturing at a meeting.

How can you get away from strategies that fail in execution because of insufficient coordination? Is it possible to limit emotion and politics in big decisions? Learn strategies, tactics, and technologies K-12 education leaders are using to make decisions about complex problems in this Seat at the Table episode.

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