In 2019, the world stood still—in shock that a global phenomenon was unfolding. This phenomenon was COVID-19, and soon, we were in a pandemic. The pandemic restructured normality and forced the country to operate within the confines of its limits. It was difficult to adjust to the new norm and what it entails. By spring 2020, schools suddenly closed, which forced students to learn virtually. Most companies were operating virtually as well, and parents struggled to find a balance between working from home and being a parent and a teacher. To withstand the phenomenon, it took grit, tenacity, determination, and perseverance.

Breakthrough Leadership: Six Principles Guiding Schools Where Inequity Is Not an Option by Alan M. Blankstein and Marcus J. Newsome expands on what it means to represent those qualities. Blankstein and Newsome saw a need to explore the question of leadership and how organizations can be successful during a pandemic. They present leadership examples on how to best handle issues so the organization does not succumb to them.

Breakthrough Leadership is not one-dimensional. It has layers with divergent viewpoints from experienced leaders  ranging from the educational sector to the government. I concur that the pandemic phenomenon has left a lasting impact on American families. The book lists indirect coping mechanisms that are sure to provide sustainability for personal and professional growth.

As an educator, I like how the book discusses testing methods and strategies and how these strategies can be helpful in a school setting. It is essential to equip students with the tools they need to be successful. By using data, as the book suggests, you can improve decision-making, including using continuous improvement with systems like MTSS (multi-tier support systems) and SEL (social and emotional learning). The book does an excellent job of detailing what MTSS and SEL are and discussing ways to implement them. It is essential for schools to have a plan when using MTSS and SEL. Teachers, staff, and administrators should be in accord to increase the chances of success of the school improvement plan, which will ensure students are receiving an ample amount of support from the school.

Learning in a pandemic is challenging, but it can be done. It takes an understanding of the new norm, which is a mindset shift. At first, it can be complicated to comprehend. However, Breakthrough Leadership illustrates how to confront pandemic educational issues and serves as a guide to navigate your path of leadership.

Aaron Nance ( is a doctoral student at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte.



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