Updated: Nov 9
Even before I joined The Lang School community, I was well aware of the school's mission and the deep thoughtfulness with which it was and continues to be brought to life for students. While my role as Director of Admissions & Strategic Initiatives calls on me to steward the full admissions journey for prospective families, at heart, this work is grounded in the challenge of exploring how best to tell the story of this mission-focused work.
One of the first tasks I set for myself was to dig into the rich resources on the website and in other materials to arrive at a more concise statement of Lang's "guiding principles." That review produced the following eighteen foundational ideas that drive learning at The Lang School:
WHAT WE DO
HOW WE DO IT
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR OUR LEARNERS
We nurture the purpose, passion, talent, and exceptionality of each student.
Civility, self-reflection, growth-mindset, and community are central to the learning experience. Our teachers lean into challenges, own their impact, speak up and stand up for equity and social justice to model these core practices.
They are supported academically, socially, emotionally, and kinesthetically and are empowered to take ownership of their learning goals and routines.
We provide structure and support for the exploration of deep questions and the having of wonderful ideas, both of which lead to the development of each student’s unique gifts.
We center each student’s need for enrichment, acceleration and remediation in our robustly differentiated academic and social-emotional learning program so every student encounters a learning experience that fits.
Students discover a learning cycle defined by exploration, "falling in love," and commitment connected to extensive hard work.
We center student self-awareness to develop self-regulation skills in the social-emotional, behavioral, sensory/physical, and academic learning domains.
Our integrated curriculum develops in students a critical, speculative lens that provides for multiple points of inquiry, invites varied perspectives and brings values and ethics into focus.
They develop their critical thinking and questioning skills to explore varied areas of inquiry and to make connections across subject domains.
We recognize that each learner has their own launch point and journey toward mastery in each subject.
Our rigorous, classroom-based learning builds foundational skills and knowledge and integrates small group and 1:1 support to meet the unique needs of each of our our twice-exceptional learners.
They develop and refine their executive functioning skills to manage materials, track assignments, manage time, and engage in long-term planning.
We develop for each learner a tailored toolkit for independence and self-advocacy so that learners are empowered to own their impact
We surface and stoke passions, provide structure and viability for big ideas, instill a sense of purpose and commitment, and, ultimately, develop gifts that grow the inspiration of tomorrow's innovators and thought leaders
They gain skills to identify their emotions and manage their actions, which in turn leads to increased self-regulation, decision making, problem-solving, and conflict resolution skills.
We cultivate partnerships with students and their families that leads to a renewed trust in the possibility of school as a place for authentic learning, success, and inspiration.
Collaboratively created, concrete student goals are monitored through regular self-reflection and teacher feedback that seeks to increase each learner’s awareness of and connection between thoughts and actions.
They have a voice and a say in how their strengths and challenges are understood and addressed and this models for them constructive approaches to engaging with others.
While these guiding principles certainly resonate in the daily practices of our faculty and in the experiences of our students, they also serve as crucial guiding points in our ongoing work to fully bring our mission to life. Faculty member "super powers" align with these principles and every faculty member can also identify at least one of these principles that reflects an active area of personal professional growth. Several of these principles align with areas we have identified for schoolwide program growth. This is how it should be; as our faculty, collectively and individually, commit to their own growth, they also model what learning can look like for our students. This commitment to continuous learning is at the heart of The Lang School experience.
Over the summer, as I reflected on the many conversations that I had with prospective families during the course of the year, I wondered if there was an even more concise way to capture Lang's intentional design and its impact on learners. And in thinking about the interaction of design and impact, this visualization emerged:
In all of our work, the learner is always at the center and our defining design elements (inquiry driven learning, tailored supports, and an orientation to growth) are always being assessed against the question, "What is best for learners?" In this way, we are able to ensure that students are developing key habits of mind, growing their knowledge and talents, and developing an orientation to independence and self-advocacy.
A final refinement sees all of these elements as interlocking and interdependent:
What animates these key elements of design and learner impact? The heart of the Lang story is really about our collective search for joy, promise and purpose. Everyday teachers at The Lang School are engaged in the work of noticing, reflection, and support as they navigate towards the fullest expression of our mission. By focusing on where and how joy, promise and purpose reveal themselves in our work with students, we are able to chart a path that allows students to develop the skills and dispositions to wayfind themselves towards their fullest expression of who they are and want to be.