“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston Churchill
National Geographic recently reported that air pollution makes Covid-19 more lethal, “but the pandemic has—temporarily—cleaned the skies. How can this silver lining – the experience of cleaner air -offer lessons for the kind of world we want to build after the pandemic?” What strategies can we use in education to capture and cultivate our own “silver linings” to foster while moving forward? How can we identify and cultivate those opportunities in a strategic and thoughtful way?
A Simple Strategic Tool for Cultivating Opportunities
Potential Opportunity Analysis (POA), a close relative to Potential Problem Analysis, is a powerful tool that can help you promote the best possible outcomes in every aspect of your life. KT (Kepner-Tregoe) founders Charles Kepner and Ben Tregoe described it this way:
“POA is a pattern of thinking that enables us to change and improve the future, rather than allow the future to arrive entirely on its own terms. This analysis is a protective and enhancing process through which we ensure that the future will be as good as we can make it.”
In a recent KT blog, the writer says POA explores two good questions to promote potential opportunities: “What could go better than expected?” and “What can we do now to make the most of it?”
This three step strategy can be used to explore and promote these “silver linings” using POA:
While Covid 19 may have exploited some of our biggest weaknesses in education – like the equity gap and potential summer slide (also known as the “Covid-slide”); it also has given millions of teachers, students and parents the impetus (also known as baptism by fire) to embrace online teaching and learning.
Here is a simple example of applying Potential Opportunity Analysis to one opportunity that has resulted from the recent pandemic:
Step 1 – Identify potential opportunities- What decision, action, plan, or end result do I/we need to leverage?
How can we leverage the potential opportunities brought about by an increased understanding and comfort with online learning by students, teachers and parents?
Step 2: Identify likely causes- (besides Covid 19- what could cause an increase in student, teacher and parent understanding and comfort with online learning?)
One likely cause of an increased understanding of online learning is the offering of more opportunities/felt need and increased expectations for using online learning for all.
Step 3: Take Action- What can you do to promote or increase the chances teachers’, parents’, and students’ awareness, experience with online resources?
- Increase awareness of online resources,
- Offer “how to” videos and assistance,
- Offer more opportunities for using online learning for both adults and children
- Use online communication options for parent conferences, etc.
These simple actions are examples of how we can both promote and capitalize on the new skills that teachers, students and parents have acquired as schools quickly moved online.
A Note of Appreciation
There are many silver linings that have come out from our new normal including the well-deserved increased appreciation for educators and their resilience and adaptability. There is no doubt that the look and feel of education may change as we move forward, but the underlying caring and compassion of our educators will always be the driving force.