The Covid-19 pandemic forces Indonesia to implement PJJ or Distance Learning which has been going on for about 3 months. The Ministry of Education and Culture has issued a Learning Implementation Guideline for the new academic year 2020/2021 related to the current outbreak pandemic. Only areas with a Green Zone status are allowed to do face-to-face learning by applying strict health procedures and going through transition period and new normal phase.

Facing such ‘difficult time’, every school needs an adaptive leader. The leadership role of the school principal is indeed very important as the key executive of education at its most basic structure. They are the ones who ensure the learning process continues effectively in spite of the learn-from-home situation

Responding to this situation, last April, INSPIRASI Foundation held a webinar entitled “Leadership of School Principals during the Covid-19 Crisis: Challenges, Policies and Opportunities”. Some of the experts as the invited speakers were Prof. Dr. Hj. Aan Komariah (Professor of Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia), Dra. Santi Ambarukmi, M.Ed (Director of Education Personnel of GTK Directorate General), Dr. Asep Tapip Yani., M.Pd (Chairman of the Indonesian School Principals Association), Obert Hoseanto., S.Si, Kom, M. Pd (Learning Solution Specialist, Microsoft), and discusant by Ahmad Yuniarto (Founder and Chairman of Biru Peduli Foundation).

Santi Ambarukmi’s presentation started the discussion. She talked from the regulation and policy point of view. According to her, the Ministry of Education and Culture was quite flexible in dealing with this pandemic; however, they were not in the right path yet. Such fact becomes the challenge which can change into a positive new normal. For example, we were not familiar with video conference as a learning media before the pandemic, but now we are forced to adapt and use it anyway. This is a good thing as a measurement in adapting to current condition hrough digital technology.

Santi also added that the adjustment of policies and regulations had also been socialized to education stakeholders. Among them are regarding how to implement learning, how to determine graduation, and how to determine class enrollment during the pandemic. Referring to the policy of independent learning , Santi encouraged that today was the perfect time to create and improve learning innovations.

Talking about adaptation to digital technology, Obert Hoseanto delivered material on leading schools digitally. According to him, digital transformation is a shared responsibility. He also added that in order to have a digital transformation, an adequate self-improvement of human resources shall be implemented.

Obert formulates the Education Transformation Framework consisting of four pillars: policies and leadership, modern learning, smart environments, and proper blueprint technology. One does not have to apply all pillars to implement the digital transformation; instead, he may choose one out of the four.

For example, Insan Cendekia Madani School prefers to use modern learning pillar. They focus on professional development of the teacher/school leaders. The implemented measures were determining the technology to be used, forming a small team at schoool such as master trainer assigned to teach all teachers at school about the learning, and implementing in the learning. The following source may be used for options.

Furthermore, Asep Tapip shared the story of how school principals have survived during the pandemic. At least there are 2 challenging situation: preventing the spread of COVID-19 and implementing school program. He said that social disancing and learn-from-home shall be applied seriously. Moreover, the school principal is responsible to ensure that the socialization of pandemic prevention measures is well-delivered, hence, hygiene facilities can be provided to support an effective learning- from-home process.

Asep added, teachers can also choose the appropriate learning model and method based on certain condition and need. In summary, learning activities could be fun despite the fact that it should be performed at home by utilizing technology or anything around us.

Answering a discussion about the challenges for school principals during the pandemic, Aan Komariah explained the concept of authentic leadership. It was about a leader who was able to change the life of the people around him, to encourage an innovative as well as collaborative learning, to have responsibility, and to easily adapt to some changes. During this pandemic, an authentic leadership is very much required in order to adapt to current changes.

After the presentation session was over, INSPIRASI invited Ahmad Yuniarto to give response. According to him, during this pandemic, the real task of the leader is to manage ambiguity and continue enacting proper actions. Furthermore, the next step is to get people implementing such actions. That’s what we call as the real leader!

Author: Nur Cahaya

Editor: Masdar Fahmi