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Core Value: Adaptability

12034200_932881260124031_8416042333155765775_oYou know something is a core value when you find yourself encountering it constantly in everything you do. This past Saturday we held our 4th annual TGS Shuffle, in a new location. Instead of a clearly marked lakeside loop, we had a winding paved path which doubled back circuitously after crossing a neighborhood street. We adapted – thanks to the creativity of our staff, who chalked directions on the sidewalks and stationed themselves throughout the route to cheer on and guide participants–all the way to the finish line!

American publisher William Feather said, “Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.” At TGS, we don’t just keep hanging on – although we do persist (another one of our core values) longer than most of our students’ prior educational settings have. As we’re “hanging on,” we continue to observe, adjust, and recalibrate our interactions and interventions until we begin to see progress, all the while knowing that we may need to adapt our ways again as our students continue to grow and change.

Need a concrete example? For the entire four years of our existence as a school, we’ve been trying to adapt other people’s products to fit our students. Every year we’ve tried a different approach to organizational support, from binders to traditional planners. Every year planners and binders were lost, forgotten, and often abandoned as “useless.” Yet students still struggled to keep themselves organized.

This year we finally threw in the towel (and coughed up the funds) to create our own TGS planner, based on what we’ve learned about our students’ needs. One quarter into the school year, we’re already requesting changes based on staff and student feedback–but the new planner is working. Better than anything we’ve tried before. We haven’t quite perfected it yet, however, this week a mom made an additional trip to TGS to deliver her student’s forgotten planner. Her comment spoke volumes about the success of our current adaptation: “I just don’t think he could get through the day without it!”

Now we’re getting somewhere…

Next week: How adaptability impacts social interactions

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