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Caring in Crisis
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Caring in Crisis
Stories to Inspire and Guide School Leaders



May 2021 | 120 pages | Corwin
Learn, reflect, and grow from 40 true stories of caring school leadership during times of crisis

Each crisis brings its own issues and unique traumas, and when they happen, most leaders handle the moment by leaning into triage and logistics. This book suggests focusing on morespecifically, on the people they serve. Are you up to the task? 
These 40 real stories, from a wide range of schools and settings during many types of crises, show how caring school leadership adopted caring people-first strategies. This book will help you and your teams be inspired to prepare for, perhaps prevent, respond to, and recover from your own school crises. Within these pages, you will find:

  • An introduction to what crisis and caring school leadership means
  •  Helpful lists to guide caring leadership practices
  • A review of current crisis management literature
  • Questions, reflection, and prompts to engage with story learnings

Prepare now to be the concerned, caring, and constant leader your school will need when crises come as well as making your leadership and school more caring when those same crises subside. 
 

 
List of Illustrations
 
Preface
 
Acknowledgments
 
About the Authors
 
Introduction: Crises and Caring School Leadership
Crisis Comes

 
The Meaning of Crisis

 
Crisis Leadership and the Through Line of Caring

 
Caring School Leadership in Times of Crisis

 
 
Guide for Engaging the Stories
Overview of Practices

 
Questions That Promote Understanding

 
Questions That Prompt Application

 
 
The Stories
1. Through the Eyes of Children

 
2. Speak Life

 
3. Giving Ourselves Permission to Be Human

 
4. Building a Family

 
5. Reflections on Healing Staff With Compassion

 
6. Caring for Kids by Taking Care of Teachers

 
7. Laura

 
8. Guarding Against Sexual Misconduct

 
9. One Sows, Another Reaps

 
10. A Million Times More

 
11. Commitment to Community Health

 
12. Da Bears!

 
13. My Zoom Isn’t Working!

 
14. Imagine the Possibilities

 
15. On Day 2, 9/11

 
16. Responding to the Crises

 
17. A Deadly Threat

 
18. Start Simple

 
19. Keeping Connected With the Kids

 
20. Prioritizing Our Students

 
21. A District Office Caring for Teachers

 
22. We Need to Talk About Sarah

 
23. Coping With Loss

 
24. Bring Your Dog to Work Days

 
25. “With Every Difficulty, There Is Relief”

 
26. Tone Deafness

 
27. Centering on Community

 
28. Biting

 
29. The Magnolia

 
30. No One Saw It Coming

 
31. No Hugs, No Bugs

 
32. Two Storms in One Week

 
33. And Then There Was Mold

 
34. I Am Here for You

 
35. Winning and Losing

 
36. Summer Meals

 
37. Sharing the Peace

 
38. The Tsunami

 
39. Leading Through the Storm

 
40. The Work of My Life

 
 
Coda
A Culture of Caring

 
Who Cares for the Caring School Leader?

 
 
Bibliography

Free resources

The Tsunami

The Tsunami

This story of a Tsunami of difficult circumstances: "How did we make it through? In the end, we managed to come together around a vision rooted in a commitment to social justice and to being a caring and supportive community for all our students, teachers, and families."

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What Cares for the Caring School Leader?

What Cares for the Caring School Leader?

"To serve others well . . . all who give care need to regularly replen-ish the water they pour. Without replenishment, they will run dry and be of little use to anyone."

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Preface: Caring in Crisis

Preface: Caring in Crisis

"In the many years that we have worked in educational leadership and school improvement, we have come to believe that caring lies at the heart of schooling and promoting the learning and development of children."

Read Now

Caring in Crisis: reminded me that in times of need we as educators come together to meet the needs of out students, families and the community at large. It emphasis that the role of the educator far exceeds just addressing the academic needs of students, but the social emotional as well. I was inspired by the thoughtful displays of unconditional care from school leaders.

Joylynn L Pruitt Adams
Superintendent, Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200

In The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni argues that effective leaders focus on the technical and human aspects of managing their organization. Here, Mark Smylie and Joseph Murphy emphasize the latter especially during a crisis. Rich with illustrations, stories, and practices of caring, this book remind us that school success comes not just from curriculum and instruction, but from relationships.

Jeff Ikler
Director, Quetico Coaching and Consultation

Caring in Crisis is a book for our time. An artful collection of insightful, provocative storytelling, this work illuminates the myriad challenges school leaders face and provides a much-needed sense that educators are deeply interconnected and interdependent. Smylie and Murphy inspire us to meet the challenges ahead and reveal that while crisis takes many forms, so too does caring.

Glenn Manning
Senior Project Manager at Harvard's Making Caring Common Project

Caring in Crisis makes a strong case for the importance of extending care to all who are impacted in a crisis and of fostering a caring school community who pull together during those difficult days. The stories in this book provide a compelling glimpse into the profound impact that a caring word, an act of kindness, or a decision that prioritizes the needs of students can have.

Megan Tschannen-Moran
Professor, College of William and Mary

Caring in Crisis is a masterful resource as it presents a research-based rationale, as well as strategic guidance, for caring in times of crisis and it engages the reader in authentic experiences shared by in-the-trenches educators. This unique combination of strategies, wisdom and heartrending stories provides opportunities for educational leaders to learn from the experiences of others in order to work together with staff to proactively mitigate crises with compassion and competence. 

Michelle Trujillo
Inspirational Speaker and Professional Learning Facilitator, Author, Start with the Heart: Igniting Hope in Schools through Social Emotional Learning

How do principals respond to a teen suicide? What could they do when faced with racism, discrimination, and even policy brutality? During COVID-19, what are some innovative ways to create a sense of community and well-being? Mark Smylie and Joseph Murphy’s Caring in Crisis provides insights into compassionate school leaders responding to situations none of us would ever want to face. Their compilation of narratives from school leaders gives us a glimpse into the agony and decisions that school leaders have had to make and the critical importance of their empathy for families and communities. Caring in Crisis, filled with examples of courage, of communication, and of community-building, gives us hope for the future, for our humanity. A must read for aspiring school leaders, you will learn about leadership in the midst of tears and heart break, about supporting families during mental health challenges, and about being a friend to your students and your community. It will open minds and hearts, providing role models for new leaders and promoting a crucial standard for “ethics of care” during some of the most difficult times.

Christine Mason, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Center for Educational Improvement, Chief Advisor, New England Mental Health Technology Transfer Center, Lead Author, Compassionate School Practices (Corwin, 2021)

Purchasing options

For large school/district orders, volume discounts, availability and shipping times contact customer service at 800-233-9936
or order@corwin.com.

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ISBN: 9781071846988
$29.95

For large school/district orders, volume discounts, availability and shipping times contact customer service at 800-233-9936
or order@corwin.com.

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