Seeing Students as Individuals

Jun 24, 2017 by

Administrators have a responsibility to increase academic achievement for all students.

A Leader’s Vision

They help those who come from a disadvantaged background or who have some challenge in their life to overcome them. The leader will have to create the right kind of environment for all their students, one that will help them to be the best they can be and this will also allow them to achieve the best outcomes. There are many strategies that can guide a leader on how to help minorities and those with a disability to have the education that they deserve. There is sometimes a tendency to think in term sofa groups and categories. There is an assumption that a ‘one-size-fits’ all approach can help all students from a minority or other disadvantaged group to succeed. A leader can take a strategy and adapt it. He or she does not see people as members of a group but as an individual who belongs to a group. This is very important if schools are to help their students.  To deal with issues of equality fully, they need to be able to see their students not only as members of minorities but as individuals. Only in this way will students who have been traditionally marginalized will be able to get the education that can change their lives. A leader who is culturally proficient is able to understand how various factors such as culture, origin and gender can impact on a student and their educational outcomes.

Individual and Challenges

Students have many identities. They are not just members of one community or group and they should not be defined by their gender orientation, race, religion, etc. Young people have many identifiers they are not just members of one identity.  They are male or female, able-bodied or different abled and they may come from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds.   This means that they have very different experiences of life and these can influence how they experience school and the challenges and barriers that the face. For example, a white female student could be from a single parent household, with a father that is incarcerated and a disabled mother, a female African-American student will have a very different experience of school than a male Native-American student. They will face different challenges than others and these may be to them. People are complex beings, even young students. This means that they have various strengths and weaknesses. Only by understanding this can a leader in a school setting make real changes and help all students fulfill their potential.

Leadership Connection

Administrators will have to really understand the needs of their students and understand them as individuals as much as possible. In order to benefit the entire school, leaders understand their communities by taking the time to listen to the needs of the students. If you are a leader and not talking to staff and students. Welcome to the wide world of social media. Because a principal is not talking to them does not mean that they are not talking to each other and creating a community of their own.  This can be very hard as it can be very difficult for a white male teacher to empathize with a young Hispanic student or a white pregnant female. Not only do they have different genders but they have different life-experiences. It is up to the leader to get a better understanding of the individual needs of their staff and students. It is important that they get a sense of the problems encountered by a young Asian boy with autism.


Walk the Talk. There are several ways that this can be done. The most basic is to get to know the child, even a brief informal talk can help a leader to understand a student. Simply by having a brief talk then can learn a lot and observation is also important. A good idea is to discuss with some staff members about the experiences of teachers. They are in day-to-day contact with the students and they get to know them quite a bit. A leader can get to know quite a bit about the experience of Muslim boys in their school by simply asking community members, teachers or counselors their opinions. Reaching out to others should come naturally in order to have those students successful in the school setting. Some schools have a parent liaison to help understand or translate gender issues or the culture of the students to the teachers, staff and vice versa – to explain to parents the needs of the school.

Researching Issues. Then there is the option of researching the issues involved. It is important that a leader is committed to continuous improvement on the issue of equity in education. If the school leader wants to get an understanding of the challenges of one minority group or a disadvantaged group, they may need to research the issue. There are many academic articles that are available online or in journals. These can help a leader to have a better understanding of the needs of certain groups of staff or students.  No leader is expected to know everything about students. It is important to understand the groups perspectives as they are different from our own voices and experiences.  This would lead to a greater sense of what may stop these students from accessing the education that they should receive. This in turn creates increased academic achievement for these students.

Individual Strategy

A true leader is always ready to act on their own initiative. They are prepared to adapt to guidelines and recommended strategies to fit the needs of the schools and their students. If a teacher has a high level of awareness of the difficulties and challenges that are facing some of the students. They will be able to identify barriers or even preempt problems that are emerging. This can be done by using the existing guidelines and strategies in ways that can maximize the opportunities for certain young people in their schools.  These are often drawn up to deal with problems in a very abstract and general way. It is up to the leader to know which strategy is best and how to implement it. If they simply apply the strategies to deal with equity issues without adapting them to the needs of their students, they may fail. A leader, when aware of the variety of issues that are facing some minorities will be better able to implement these strategies for the benefit of the entire school community. In turn they will be better able to help their staff to consider ways that can help these disadvantaged students to feel more included in the classroom and elsewhere. A leader should acknowledge that every student is a complex individual and persuade staff to do the same.  This is important because what is at the center of every school other than the students and their needs? They cannot create an inclusive and fair school by viewing people as members of groups rather than individuals. Achieving equity in school settings is not only based upon understanding the needs of students. Collective efficacy is critical to the overall success of any school, through these strategies, administrators can help pave the way for student success. It is what will bring schools to be truly inclusive.

Keywords: inclusive education, leadership strategies, effective schooling, educational equity

Comment Below: Let us know how your school makes students feel comfortable and listens to their school community? What amazing things is your school district doing to bring together diverse learners?


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