School Systems and Structures

Built-in community“One thing that we found is that some of our in-person school structures carried over really well to being remote. One of those was our teacher teams where they all teach the same kids and the kids move in a class where they all stay together. That served us incredibly well in the transition because it meant that the adults had this built-in mini community that was very nimble, and they could share resources and support each other. As a team of five, they were able to quickly figure out and coordinate and provide some consistency for their kids. As school leaders, we facilitated and helped and supported that. It worked really well.”

When schools moved to remote learning, critical systems, structures, and practices were disrupted and sometimes not replaced. For example, some schools dropped schedules that had teacher team time, small group instruction, and schoolwide routines built into the days and weeks. Instead, they allowed grade teams or individual teachers to create their own schedules. In other places, schools dropped their regular communication structures and were solely reactive in their communication to parents or teachers or waited to communicate until they had clear answers, which were slow to come. As schools now grapple with an academic year that will likely include a hybrid of face-to-face and remote instruction, they are aiming for structures and scheduling that provide consistency and maximize learning and collaboration for students and for teachers. Three essentials are:

  • Communication structures that are accessible and predictable so families and teachers know where and when they will hear from the school
  • Dedicated time for continuous improvement cycles at the district, school, team/grade, and class levels to continually analyze data, reflect on progress, and refine instructional practices to best support their students
  • Schedules that maximize instruction and allow for movement from remote to hybrid to face-to-face instruction, building time for connecting as a community in each of these modes of learning

Asian young man indoors in cafe. Lifestyle concept photo with copy space. Picture with handsome guy who using protective face mask. Portrait with gray laptop

Overall Findings

Structure“I think something that is really important is providing students with supports, but more specifically structure. We need to first teach them time management and how to properly schedule themselves. Because you know, the bells aren’t there anymore. The teachers aren’t there to tell you to go to class.”

It is critical for schools to develop coherent systems, structures, and practices that can toggle back and forth between remote, face-to-face, and hybrid learning so that communication, schedules, and continuous learning all align to move school goals forward and effectively support members of the school community.


This section will help you to...

  • Identify best practices for creating systems for communication
  • Identify best practices for instruction when students are face-to-face or remote
  • Create a system for instituting continuous learning and distributing leadership

Equity Priorities

To ensure equity, district and school leaders need to make sure:

  • Staff’s time and responsibilities are being used to prioritize the most vulnerable learners.
    • For example, time is scheduled for check-ins and social worker support where needed.
  • When leadership analyzes data, they focus intentionally on the school’s most vulnerable students.
    • For example, focusing on at-risk students’ attendance and grades allows a school to ensure that no one is falling between the cracks.
  • Systems are built for accessible, consistent information sharing across staff and families.
    • For example, multiple forms, modes of communications, and translations are used.