Just over a year ago, we announced the founding of the Association of Academic Leaders. We heard so many Academic Leaders–deans, division heads, department chairs, and more– with the same worry: “How will I find my network?” While the associations serving independent schools are powerful forces for good, there was no one professional organization focused solely on the needs of Academic Leaders. That’s not just an anecdotal observation–in a study we commissioned with McKinley Advisors, 75% of the Academic Leaders surveyed agreed with the statement, “There’s no one organization that meets all my needs.”
Why join? Because the Association for Academic Leaders is here to support educators whose work is strategically focused on teaching and learning beyond a single classroom. We built the Association by listening to educators, and creating the resources and programming that can make a difference in their work.
We heard clearly that it’s too easy to get swept into the day-to-day work, which can squeeze out the opportunity to think and plan strategically. Academic Leaders want to have easy access to big ideas and the research that supports change. That’s why we created Marking the Moment, a new member-exclusive resource that brings together research and analysis to tell the story of the academic year we’re finishing. This project is designed to provide a conceptual framework that allows Academic Leaders to see trends and data in the context of the narrative of the school year, and to present the sources that allow you to dig deeper. Our 2023 edition is out now.
We heard that Academic Leaders can feel like an “island of one,” because they’re often the only person in their exact position at their school. In response, we created the Academic Leaders Forum, a space for Academic Leaders to reflect on the past year, and recharge for the strategic work of the summer in preparation for the next school year. Sometimes, a 2022 participant reflected, it can feel like there’s no common language on campus, because everyone does such different work. At the Forum, however, educators were speaking the same language and making authentic connections about their goals, successes, and challenges.
We know Academic Leaders’ time is short, and their interests and needs encompass a wide array of issues. As a competency-based professional association, we intentionally designed our online courses to meet both needs. Each of our one-week courses targets a specific aspect of one of the competencies Academic Leaders need to grow to help their schools thrive. While the overall topic may seem quite large, once inside, participants will find a highly-curated selection of resources that target the objectives of the course.
We listened to what Academic Leaders need, and we’re bringing it to our members every day. Join us, so we can listen to you, too.
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Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)