Diverse Learners Cooperative

DLC Impact Story: Partnered Development for Change

Read more about how the DLC partners with schools to build confidence and capacity in serving diverse learners.

Traci and Kristin, two special education leaders with a combined 40 years of experience in education, know that diverse learners are often a system-wide afterthought.  The challenge they routinely face is the seemingly interminable failure of school teams to plan from ‘diverse learners out’. 

“Schools are planning methodically for how they are providing instructional services and resources generally, but it’s like now that we’ve got that big chunk handled, what do we need for our diverse learners?  But as long as we continue to do that, we will never have the resources we need to dedicate to really closing gaps on an individual basis for all kids.”

They understand why it happens – the students they primarily serve are a much smaller portion of students than the general education population – but they also know that even small systematic changes would have immense impacts for learners. 

“We needed the DLC to support our behavior work – understanding how to do FBAs, writing behavior intervention plans, progress monitoring.  But not just tools – we made teams, partnerships between student supports and deans, and they were able to gain an understanding and build confidence and capacity to manage plans, and students could be successful.”

Leading the charge for diverse learners is clearly their passion point, but Traci and Kristin know that making lasting change to the system requires leveraging all adults in the building, especially school leaders.  

“Another focus of the process was to help leaders and teachers take ownership of all kids, including the kids that were having behavior challenges.  We’re trying to shift the mindset that because they’re a special education student, only the special education teacher can help them.  That’s what the partnership gave leaders the capacity to do – they felt confidence like they had never felt before – they could manage situations because of the partnership we formed.”

A focus on empowering leaders within their school contexts allowed Traci and Kristin to see the possibilities of what was to come.  Leaders would lead with diverse learners in mind and confidence that diverse learners could be served, and they would be able to support teachers to do the same. 

 “The work that we’ve done with the leaders this year will pay off dividends to the teachers this coming year.  Because they feel more confident, now they can help support the teachers because they have a greater understanding of how best to work with these students.  And they can provide the support that teachers need.”

Traci and Kristin have seen that understanding, confidence, and support blossom through all kinds of partnering, but particularly the kind that relies on continuous learning opportunities.  The DLC provided them contextual, school-based partnering as well as connection to role-alike colleagues. 

“It’s relationship building and providing direct, intentional, informed support for leaders.  And I have learned not just from the members of the DLC, but from the partners that participate in the professional development.”

“It was a godsend to me because I felt like I had a built-in support system.  This a job that if you feel like you ever get to a point no matter how many years you do this where you feel like you’ve got this thing down, you need to leave, because you are always learning, things are always changing.”

These lifelong learning leaders of diverse learners deeply value their partnership with the DLC. 

“It’s been a phenomenal ride with them.  I’m looking forward to working with them for many more years.  It’s helped me to become a better leader, a better teacher, a better colleague.  Everything that we’ve done has been so intentional and they’ve delivered on the things that we’ve asked of them.  Now it’s just a matter of figuring out the next steps of what we need.”

The DLC aims to have a similar and significant impact within all school partnerships, equipping and empowering teams to improve outcomes for diverse learners. Interested in seeing this kind of success in your space? Contact us!