Learner-Centered Leadership Lab

What Is Learner-Centered Leadership?

Reimaging and redesigning how to educate young people so that all children can thrive in and transform the world is a special kind of challenge that calls for a special kind of leadership. Learner-centered leadership is an approach to educational leadership that places learners (of all ages) at the center of systems. 

Learner-centered leaders work to create extraordinary, equitable learning environments by shifting their systems from offering one-size-fits-all experiences that often leave young people disconnected, bored, or locked in place, to providing learning experiences that are relevant, rigorous, and affirming; provide equal opportunities to every student; and are responsive to the demands and opportunities of the 21st century.

What Is the Learner-Centered Leadership Lab?

The Learner-Centered Leadership Lab (LCLL) is a 10-month cohort program for visionary superintendents who share a commitment to putting the needs of learners front and center. 

Interest and Nomination Form

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The lab is a diverse, close-knit community alongside an ever-growing network of like-minded peers on similar journeys to lead transformational change. LCLL gives leaders protected time and space to explore real-life problems that test who they are as a learner-centered leader and test how their system is moving in its transformation towards learner-centeredness. 

During the lab experience, leaders develop the skills and mindsets to:

  • Explore their own values, identity and deepest motivations in order to lead in more authentic and learner-centered ways
  • Guide their own leadership actions, especially when faced with dilemmas or in the ‘heat of the fire’
  • Develop others around them to be stronger learner-centered leaders 
  • Cultivate the conditions for learner-centered transformation across their systems
  • Create a roadmap to address a leadership challenge their currently grappling with in their system

The LCLL framework supports participants with their leadership evolution:

  • How they understand their core: values, motivations, identities, dispositions
  • How this is expressed in their concept: personal beliefs and assumptions of what it means to be a learner-centered leader
  • How this is enacted through their competencies: skills at taking the most important actions of learner-centered leadership
  • How all of this enables a leader to influence their system’s conditions
  • How this all fits into a leader’s greater context: historical realities, demographics, politics, local-level pressures, and more

What Do Participants Say About the Lab?

Participants say the LCLL provides a space to reflect on core beliefs and values, which helps them stay grounded when facing challenges, to share the burden and embrace vulnerability with a group of like-minded leaders, and to prioritize learner-centeredness.

The Lab has created a much needed but rare space for leaders to come together and really analyze and self-reflect on their leadership and how it truly impacts the human beings in their system. As systems leaders we don’t always have the opportunity to just sit quietly and reflect on the work that we do. This lab not only gave us that space, but it also linked us to a magnificent professional network that I am grateful to have become a part of.

Dr. Tamara Willis, Superintendent, Susquehanna Township School District

Case Study

Lindsay Unified School District Considers How to Support Learner-Centered Leaders

Lindsay Unified School District (LUSD) has long prioritized a learner-centered approach, which places learners (of all ages) at the center of systems. Today, LUSD’s radically learner-centered design serves as an exemplar for education leaders across the country.

Read More About the LCLL

Shifts in Leadership Concepts

Observations and learnings from the LCLL program have revealed six shifts in Leadership Concepts from the industrial era to leadership that advances equitable, 21st-century learning.

Industrial Era Leadership Represent learner’s interests with very little learner input
Learner-Centered Leadership Listen to learners (of all ages)
Industrial Era Leadership Make decisions to serve the system
Learner-Centered Leadership Make decisions to serve all learners
Industrial Era Leadership Be the Chief Director
Learner-Centered Leadership Be the Chief Learner
Industrial Era Leadership Further a culture of performance and compliance
Learner-Centered Leadership Cultivate a culture of learning and growth
Industrial Era Leadership Control and system of roles, rules, and hierarchies
Learner-Centered Leadership Empower and inspire others to become learner-centered leaders

Current and Past Participants 

Meet our current cohort! See our past participants.

Transcend is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit that operates nationally.