#42 – Conversations About Leadership During a Pandemic: Successes, Unsung Heroes, and Lessons Learned With Dr. Dan Bittman

Unpacking Education June 2, 2021 24 min

Our guest today knows a thing or two about steadfastly leading a school district through a year of unprecedented obstacles. We are joined by Dr. Dan Bittman, Superintendent of Independent School District 728 in Minnesota. He is also the president-elect of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators and one of Minnesota’s Superintendent representatives on the AASA National Governing Board.

In this episode, we celebrate the leaders who rose from every corner of our educational communities: students, parents, teachers, and building and district administrators. We discuss how the pandemic has provided unprecedented opportunities to come together to support one another, learn flexibility and practice adaptability, and extend grace and receive it for ourselves.

We start the conversation with the successes that have arisen during this challenging year. Students are thriving with personalized instruction. Partnerships have been strengthened between schools, their communities, and the businesses that surround them to offer support for students and their families. We explore how nimble we’ve been and how quickly we’ve changed to best meet needs.

Paul Beckermann
PreK-12 Digital Learning Specialist
Rena Clark
Digital Learning Coach
Pamela Beckermann
PreK-12 Digital Learning Specialist

A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.

Christopher Reeve, actor


The following resources are available on AVID Open Access to explore this topic in more depth:

Working Together to Meet Challenges

With an 8-hour notice that schools would be shutting down, the leadership team at ISD 728 in Minnesota came together to find solutions for their students, families, and staff. Within 24 hours, 14,000 families had devices to support remote learning. Students without Internet access had hot spots provided by the school district. Meals were lined up for all families free of charge. Professional development was rolled out for teachers, meeting them where they were at with their technical expertise.

This is a story of a community that worked together to support each other through the daily shifts of the pandemic. The concept of a leadership team expanded beyond the executive team to include members from around the community, shedding titles to work together, stay connected, and support one another.

In this week’s episode, Dr. Dan Bittman shares experiences from ISD 728. We learn how, through the volatility of the pandemic, teams came together to work cross-functionally to determine what was best for their students and families. He sheds light on the forward thinking that was the hallmark of their school district’s work and how challenges became opportunities to find solutions that would positively impact the future of the community. Tune in to this week’s episode to hear Dr. Bittman’s lessons learned and what he is carrying forward into the coming academic year. We touch on personalized learning, the need to focus on mental health of students and staff, and the value of seeking feedback from all corners of the community.