As noted in the last entry, an independent school’s administration plays a role in developing a climate that welcomes students with diverse learning needs. Most administrations probably fall into one of these three categories:
- Willing and able – can promote an atmosphere welcoming to the needs of individual learners
- Willing but unable – promotes the ideal of a comprehensive learning atmosphere but lacks the understanding of how to achieve it
- Unwilling – recognize that the school’s mission is to serve a certain segment of the student population
As a solo practitioner, I love working with the first group, and appreciate the honesty and integrity of the third group.
The second group is most interesting, and where I find great opportunities for growth. These administrators want what is best for all students, but have too often relied on a ‘one-size-fits all’ approach to learning interventions and missed out on opportunities to make a real difference for their students.
One size may fit most, but only guarantees that there will be students who fall through the cracks. Often these students are bright, talented, and outstanding school citizens.
I welcome the opportunity to work with an administration that is open to learning more about how to serve all kinds of learners, for they will foster teacher growth and student achievement.
2 thoughts on “Independent School Leadership”
I enjoy reading your contributions to All Kinds of Minds Blog, Marty. I’ve been thinking about the administrator/leadership categories that you have identified in your comments on ‘Independent School Leadership’ (4th December, 2008). I understand the point you are making – that school leadership is a critical factor in creating a school culture that welcomes students with diverse learning needs. I agree with you that there are differences in the ways that administrators engage with the challenge of serving individual learners in their schools. As educators who are committed to the philosophy of All Kinds of Minds we would actively avoid lumping our students into categories and identifying them as ‘willing and able’, ‘willing but unable’ or ‘unwilling’. And so I was wondering why you chose to categorize administration/leadership using these phrases? Is there some other way to describe the different levels of engagement in this challenging and important work that uses phrases that are more optimistic and specific?
Thanks for the comments, Paul.
There were two real reasons for using the terminology I did – brevity and clarity. Blogging is a succinct medium, and I’ll admit to playing on the common ‘willing and able’ phrase to make my point. I see this as different from labeling students though. I am not attempting to limit individuals by fitting them into a mold (Administrator A is Willing and Unable), but rather describing what I have seen an organizational entity do in practice.
My intent was to be more descriptive than judgmental, though that may not have come across clearly enough, and I would freely admit that there are plenty of more descriptive and nuanced alternatives to the terminology I used to describe the different levels of administrative engagement.