Education Reimagined recently partnered with TLTalkRadio hosts Randy Ziegenfuss and Lynn Fuini-Hetten, Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent at Salisbury Township School District, to launch the Shift Your Paradigm podcast series. The series showcases learner-centered pioneers (including young learners) and their insights on what leadership looks like in the learner-centered paradigm. As I’ve listened to these fabulous conversations, two things have stood out to me.
First, learner-centered leaders are learners. Whether they are administrators, teachers, or students, they know they don’t have all the answers and continue pushing to learn more.
In episode three of Shift Your Paradigm, Kevin Brown, Superintendent of Alamo Heights Independent School District, shared why he no longer feels anxious when he doesn’t know how to move forward. He’s developed a strong faith in the educators and learners in his community and knows they will all figure it out together. This leads to my second insight.
Learner-centered leaders share leadership, empowering everyone in the community to contribute to the overall success of the community of learners.
These two elements are foundational qualities that make learner-centered leaders great educators, learners, administrators, mentors, and advisors. When we see our work as emergent (arising out of interactions among people with a shared vision—especially those closest to the issue), we no longer have the illusion of having the “right” answer and seeing our work as a simple matter of implementation. For example, we can be comfortable knowing learning pathways can’t be determined with the expectation they will be applicable for the entire year. By the end of even the first day, new insights develop about each learner’s individuality and adjustments will need to be made. These pathways emerge, bend, and alter in the daily conversations with learners.
Learner-centered pioneers know this well, and in this latest issue of Pioneering, we feature an environment living these qualities of leadership and implementation—Mesa County Valley School District 51 in Grand Junction, CO. Also included is an exciting announcement about a new learner-centered publication, Trailblazers. From beginning to end, it has been a production by learners! We’re proud to reprint one of the articles for your reading pleasure.