This article originally appeared in Getting Smart on May 20, 2020.

In a recent podcast, researcher Brene Brown suggested other fields can learn from the aptly named soccer move “settling the ball.” This technique involves bringing the ball down, getting it under control, and then assessing the field to determine the best play.

The analogy hits home for educators in the COVID-19 world. School communities quickly shifted to remote learning, ensuring basic needs of safety and security in an uncertain time. Now educators face another challenge: getting ready to open schools with looming public health risks, wider learning gaps, and heightened trauma and social-emotional needs. To do this right, we must settle the ball.

How we reopen and recover now will shape public education for years to come. Our mandate is clear: We must prepare in a way that is flexible enough to respond to an uncertain future under COVID-19, yet robust enough to ensure that all students—including students with disabilities—have an equal opportunity to succeed over the long term. Doing so can help ensure that equity is built into the foundation of a new era of education.


Preparing to Reopen: Six Principles That Put Equity at the Core


“If we fail to plan with the most vulnerable students not just in mind, but at the table, we will be stuck with old ways of learning that are both impractical and unsuited to moving us forward.”

Jean Desravines, New Leaders 

Chief Executive Officer

“How can we safely provide physical assistance to students who require support while walking? How do we keep masks on students at all times?”

Anisa Phillip, LAB Special Educator

“This is a chance to break old habits and upgrade how [we] make decisions and build systems to ensure a stronger— and more equitable—foundation for all kids, forever.”

Erin Larkin Maguire, Relay Graduate School of Education Senior Dean 

An Iterative Design Project of Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools