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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Just Out of Range

Just Out of Range

By Ryan Donlan
Assistant Professor
Department of Educational Leadership
Bayh College of Education
Indiana State University
Mary Tracy-MacAulay
Doctoral Student
Department of Educational Leadership
Bayh College of Education
Indiana State University

Successful experience in leadership brings with it an expanding repertoire of professional with-it-ness in those who are authentic in reflection and intentional in self-improvement.  Even with this, our prioritization of the urgencies results in important items being left “just out of range.”

We thought it might be helpful this week to ask our friends and colleagues in K-12 leadership, “What aren’t we noticing?” 

Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham, in 1955, referred to an area that escapes our awareness as a Blind Spot, a portion potentially known to others, yet not known to self (Luft, 1982). 

Are any of the following “just out of range” to you, as they have been at times to us?

With Faculty & Staff:

The team-playing faculty member who lets students sit for a few minutes at the end of each class period, thus missing out on numerous hours of instruction in a given year;

The dust atop a hallway’s running board, the potential result of our interacting with custodians less often, and thus their becoming less apt to consider their work important to the school;

The exclamation marks (!) affixed on signs and flyers posted by staff – notations perceivable as put-off-ish;

With Students:

The C-student who has no adult with whom to connect, at school or at home;

The restroom graffiti that is irritating, yet devastating to those who are described within (or the discomfort felt by those who use stalls without doors because of our chosen methods of dealing with it);

The contributions of student athletes or club members who are not participating in the “Big 3”;

With Parents & Community Members:

The techniques our faculty and staff use to launch evening meetings with parents and community volunteers [Are those more introverted sitting uncomfortably in silence as they await the start?];

The behavior exhibited by Parking Lot Nazis while families drop-off their children each morning;

The manner in which teachers address parents over the phone and more importantly, their need for training in this very skill;

In Our Own Leadership Behavior and Communication:

Our moods on Mondays, as compared to Fridays;

What our e-mails “say” through their tone and word choice, or what they say about us because we are using them to communicate to those down the hall in the first place;

The “learning” that is occurring with students, as we are so focused on scripting;

And … On a More Personal Level:

What we are doing and how we are being perceived, while we believe no one is looking at the gas station or the grocery store;

The strength of the relationships with our significant others, as this reflects whom we really are while putting on our professional visages, and

Our own wellness, as defined by how we need to define it.

As we consider those things “just out of range” in our leadership, should we be asking ourselves, “If these examples are ones to which many of us can relate, then why with such smart, student-centered people are they just out of range?” 

Do we choose to leave them there, even subconsciously?

They certainly wouldn’t seem of lesser value to us.  After all, they are not of lesser value to those who deal with their effects.

Could it be that we are so derailed by our day-to-day’s, that it is more difficult to notice things that require us to look long and hard at what is happening beneath the surface and make more difficult decisions?  Could it be that we never take time to think?

Maybe it has nothing to do with that; it could be that keeping things “just out of range” allows us the option of keeping vulnerability just out of range too. 

It seems rather clear – Those things “just out of range” include the very elements of the human condition that would bring us more closely in range to one another, if we would only allow their identification and attention.


Luft, J. (1982). The Johari Window: A graphic model of awareness in interpersonal relations. Retrieved at:


Ryan Donlan is currently working with Mary Tracy-MacAulay in her doctoral coursework.  Please be encouraged to contact them at anytime at or at (812) 237-8624.  The more we share with each other, the fewer items we may leave “just out of range” while we strive to make a difference.

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