Recently, my colleague, Lynn Fuini-Hetten, and I recorded the first episode of a new podcast series – Shift your paradigm: School-centered to learner centered. (We will be launching the podcast sometime around the end of April at ShiftYourParadigm.org.) In the first episode we chatted with Kelly Young, Executive Director of Education Reimagined, about the learner-centered paradigm and tinkered with some initial thoughts about learner-centered leadership. Throughout the next 18 months, we’ll be interviewing practitioners (older learners/leaders and younger learners/leaders) and experts who support learner-centered schools to more deeply explore what it takes to be a leader in a learner-centered space.
Here are some ideas/principles of learner-centered leadership that came out of our conversation:
- Leaders are always learning. Every opportunity is an opportunity to learn when followed by the deep work of reflection. How do we demonstrate a growth mindset, open to shifting mindsets? What protocols do we use to promote our own reflection (and shifting mindset) as leaders and learners?
- There is no one way to be a learner-centered leader. A formula or checklist does not exist. (Nor will we be creating one.) How do we take principles of learner-centered leadership (or anything, for that matter) and craft them to fit our own personalized contexts?
- Learner-centered leaders see and engage with everyone in the organization as a learner and a leader. How do the people in the organization engage with each other as both learners and leaders? Are we open to recognizing and expecting leadership up, down and across the organization – older and younger leaders (including students and teachers)? Are we explicitly connecting leadership and learning experiences to the elements of the learner-centered model: competency-based; personalized, contextualized, relevant; learner agency; socially-embedded; open-walled?
- The transformation of learning and leadership – from school-centered to learner-center – has agency at its core. How do followers become leaders through the exercise of agency? How do we as leaders provide the space for followers to own both learning and leadership? What does this look like when we approach it with intentionality in our practice? How powerful can a learning organization be when everyone owns learning and leadership?
You may be thinking…I already do that. I used to, too. But once you dig into the vision, the lexicon and understand the difference between the school-centered and the learner-centered paradigms, you will realize its a new way of thinking about leadership in this new space. This is only the start of an exciting leadership journey, and we hope you’ll join us! More to come on the podcast and website in the next few weeks.
What curiosities do you have about the idea of leading through the learner-centered paradigm?
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