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Learning Specialists: Extending Our Reach

16 Sep 2022 8:19 AM | Chris Ouellette (Administrator)

By Chris Ouellette

NEALS VP, Director of Learning Support, Emma Willard

Hello Folx! The year is rocking and rolling already! Joining a new community has really been a refreshing experience in terms of my own energy and output! I wanted to take some time to share about an experience I have already had this year where I was able to stretch my reach beyond typical expectations.

As the year began, I was approached by the Head of School in order to tap into my knowledge base of learning strategies in support of a specific administrative team. The team had just rolled out a new protocol to use in some meetings when one of the team members expressed concern about the protocol supporting their own learning needs. This is when I was asked to review the protocol, share my thoughts, and offer up some alternatives to think about. I brought my input to a meeting at the beginning of the week. Here are my thoughts on the overall experience:

  1. This was the first time that I have been asked to support adults outside of delivering professional development (whether group or 1-1). Not only was this an honor, it was a great example of the reach that Learning Specialists can have if they are valued within their school communities. 
  2. As I began to review the protocol, and started to find some legitimate frustration points, I was worried about the impact of coming into the meeting and sharing with the Head of School that their protocol should probably shift to something different. I channeled my inner Brené Brown, focused on the mantra “clear is kind”, and mustered up my courage to deliver the message. What a well-received conversation this was! 
  3. We work within such an imperfect science that things often feel a bit messy! The level of vulnerability needed to engage in this intricate world is palpable. The nature of our work, no matter how gently we deliver it to our colleagues, can often sound like “YOU’RE BAD AT TEACHING”. This naturally brings out insecurities in teachers (even if that isn’t even close to the delivered message). This moment was a chance for me to be vulnerable and courageous, and was an opportunity to model to my colleagues the ways in which I believe we should all interact.

My challenge to you: find the spot where you need to have a courageous conversation, channel your inner “clear is kind”, and deliver that message both vulnerably and with pride! Even if it is less than successful, it is great practice going forward! Nas tells us that “if you’re afraid to take chances, you’ll never have the answers”, and I tend to agree! 



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