Looking Forward with Hope for 2023

on Jan 3, 2023

There is such urgency in the multitude of crises we face, it can make it hard to remember that in fact it is urgency thinking (urgent constant unsustainable growth) that got us to this point, and that our potential success lies in doing deep, slow, intentional work. — adrienne maree brown

Turning the page from one year to the next always provides me with hope and inspiration. This January, while still looking ahead to the possibilities of 2023, I am acutely aware of the unprecedented hardships 2022 brought for school communities across the country: mental health challenges, students whose academic progress was impacted by COVID-19, staffing shortages and the overt, oftentimes extreme, politicization of K-12 education. It is easy to understand why so many teachers and school and central office leaders ended the year overwhelmed and exhausted.

As K-12 leaders, we have gotten quite good at mobilizing into multiple well-intentioned strategies and actions. The danger is that oftentimes when we scramble to solve problem after problem, those furthest from justice get left behind. While moving quickly can provide the illusion of getting somewhere, it often moves us backwards unless we lift up those who are most deeply impacted by today’s challenges.

Solving the problems in front of us today demands more than a simple New Year’s resolution; it requires us to reimagine our challenges and commit to new ways of moving forward. Now is the time to boldly embrace a vision of equity–and a commitment to listening to and learning from those most often marginalized–to drive change. As adrienne maree brown expressed, we need to engage and center the voices of those furthest from justice because “we need their lived experiential wisdom to shape solutions that will work for the majority of living beings.”

What if 2023 becomes the year that school system leaders create the conditions for, model, and sustain ways of learning and working that allow school leaders and teachers to create equitable school communities on behalf of all students, and especially those furthest from justice?

Your leadership continues to inspire our team at the Center for Educational Leadership, and we are as committed as ever to working side-by-side with you to create such environments. I hope 2023 is the year we leave business as usual behind, reimagine success and slow down to intentionally create the conditions ripe for fostering the schools that all our students deserve.

About the author

Max Silverman is the executive director of the University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) where he provides leadership for improving school systems focused on equitable outcomes for students.
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