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How Responsiveness Led Us Through 2020 - and the Past Decade

By: Jenni Tonti on December 22nd, 2020

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How Responsiveness Led Us Through 2020 - and the Past Decade

Education Elements

Whoa. 2020.

I became a mom this year. My daughter Emily Ruth was born on April 1, 2020. My husband and I knew immediately that she was going to be a mix of wicked and wise, given the birthday she chose: April Fools Day - so perfect for 2020. She was born 2 weeks into the first COVID lockdown, and 4 days after my labor had started (she was in no rush to enter into these circumstances). So I spent all of April, May, and June hunkered down in a bubble of love and sleeplessness with my newborn, while the world outside was descending into the scariness and unknown of COVID.

2020 also marked my 8th full year at Education Elements. I've been part of the familEE for more than 80% of its 10 years. If you'd asked me in, say, February 2020, I'd have said that I was grateful to be going on maternity leave from an organization that I was so familiar and comfortable with so that I could pretty much get right back into the swing of things when I came back. Then came March. By the time I came back from maternity leave at the end of June, I was coming back to a different company in a different world. It took me weeks (months?) to regain my footing and understand the seismic changes that had taken place while I was out. But what I came to understand was that, in true Education Elements form, our team had met challenge after challenge with a mix of compassion, determination, thoughtfulness, practicality, and even some levity.

  • When schools and offices alike shut down and everyone started working, teaching, and learning from home, our consultants pumped out resources to help educators learn how to use the online conferencing, communication, and decision-making tools that we use internally

  • When districts and states were working to think through what returning to school might look like, our partners helped develop return plans

  • When the killing of George Floyd sparked national protests directing much-needed attention to the racism and violence faced by Black people and other people of color in America, our team looked inward to see what systems needed to be dismantled and reimagined ourselves, while also developing services to support our clients in redesigning school systems for equity

  • When clients and employees alike started to deal with zoom fatigue, feel more isolated, more concerned about family and friends, on top of all the other stressors of the year, our leadership looked for ways to support our clients and employees - whether it was acting as a sounding board or a brainstorm partner, or providing more flexibility

At Education Elements, we have been talking about responsiveness for years now - both internally as part of our company culture, and externally with our clients to change how their teams and organizations function. Our hope is that being able to apply responsive practices to remote work helped schools and districts navigate, what we now, almost jokingly refer to as “unprecedented times”, and in turn, districts have been able to help students and their families navigate the ever-changing impact of COVID. 

It has been an incredibly tough year for school and district leaders, teachers, and students and their families alike, all of whom have been asked to keep up with drastic changes overnight.

What has been clear to me in the months since I returned from maternity leave is how truly responsive we are at Education Elements, and how critical that is and will continue to be, both for us and our clients, as we navigate the unknown new year ahead.  

I’ve watched Education Elements grow up from a small edtech startup to a strategic partner for our district clients. 

And, I feel like a proud mama.

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