Coronavirus and Learner-Centered Leadership

This post was originally published on on April 18, 2020.

In a few days my first book, Learner-Centered Leadership, will be published.  I hear stories about how other authors have worked in a zen-like state where elegant prose effortlessly flowed through the writer into the manuscript.  That wasn’t my experience at all.  I struggled, nearly gave up many times, and found it to be a very difficult process.  As a result, I’ve been working on the book since 2017 and it took me almost three full years to get it to completion.

And now, at the time it is becoming public, we are in an unprecedented situation where schools are closed for months due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  Educators across the world are adapting and implementing “emergency remote instruction” under very challenging circumstances. Inequities that we knew about previously have been exacerbated and while the privileged are having difficulties adapting to quarantines at home, the virus is ravaging poor communities and decimating health and economic stability at a frightening pace.

So I’ve asked myself if this book is still relevant.  Everything I wrote was before Coronavirus.  After reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that the need for Learner-Centered Leadership has never been greater.  Consider, for example, the following quotes from the book (italics added for emphasis):

By embracing and celebrating the unique strengths of every learner, it is my hope that we can begin to see all forms of difference, including cultural and racial diversity, as the assets they truly are. Being learner-centered, therefore, is a direct challenge to inequality in all forms. In the same ways that we want schools to be learner-centered, society should be human-centered. At its essence, learner-centered education and human-centered societal mindsets embrace the notion that equity requires us to see and know one another as real people, and then to design improvements as a community.

We are now in an era where learners can be at the center of their experience. An age in which we can recognize and celebrate the uniqueness and individuality of every child. It is time for us to move away from efficiencies that are good for adults. Time for us to be oriented to effectiveness. Time for us to be aligned with the needs of the modern world. It is time for us to be learner-centered.

I had no idea at the time that this commitment to a balanced, individualized learning model would create glimpses into the future of teaching and learning. We were just trying to listen and be responsive to our kids. As it turns out, that responsiveness to our learners is at the heart of a movement that holds the potential to be the new model of postindustrial education. We are now at the cusp of a potential transformation from mass production in schools to mass personalization.

When I re-read these quotes they feel painfully relevant. An institutional model of education can not work when the institutions are inaccessible. We must be human-centered. We must see and know one another as real people, and then design improvements as a community. We must put learners at the center.

It will take learner-centered leadership to make these urgent and necessary changes.

Learner-centered education not a new concept. It’s how the best educators have always met the needs of learners. We knew that it was the future even before this Pandemic.

The future is ours to create. It is my hope that Learner-Centered Leadership will be helpful for on your journey.

Click here to order the book through Amazon

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