Abilities Model®

Schools should teach the way students learn.

McLean’s Abilities Model® has helped hundreds of students--both conventional learners and those with learning challenges ranging from dyslexia, anxiety and ADHD, to difficulties with executive functioning--to succeed at school and in life. By focusing on each child’s strengths, supporting in areas of individual challenge and fostering resilience, we are transforming how our students view themselves and their prospects. In recent surveys, 91% of parents reported a rise in their children’s self-esteem while 55% of our seniors gained entrance to “more or most selective” colleges as ranked by US News & World Report.  And, our record suggests that nearly 100% of those students will graduate.

Four Steps to the Abilities Model

List of 4 items.

  • Teach to Abilities in Small Classes

    Research shows that many entrepreneurs, leaders, and creative thinkers are not conventional learners. These learning gifts often come with challenges.  Teachers must teach to each child’s strengths, integrate support in areas of need, but never define students by their challenges. 
  • Focus on the Whole Child

    We emphasize mindfulness in the classroom, allowing our students to center themselves and be available for learning. We also proactively address external challenges. Our focus on cyber citizenship, for example, enables our students to be safe, informed and respectful users of social media and the Internet. From Lower School on, our students volunteer in the community, and take part in rich arts, PE and sports programming. In these ways and more, we engage our students, emphasizing values and community, and prepare them socially and emotionally for the wider world. Many parents tell us that their kids can’t wait to get to school. A focus on the whole child can have a powerful effect on reducing isolation, alienation and absenteeism.
  • Train Teachers for Success

    While all children are natural learners, they learn in different ways.  Our teachers are trained to see those differences and to differentiate instruction to meet individual needs—teaching the way students learn, rather than expecting students to learn the way we teach. Beginning in the Lower School, for example, our teachers deploy specialized, multi-sensory Orton-Gillingham training and Responsive Classroom methods.  We also empower our students with research-based tools and techniques geared to their areas of challenge, such as organizational methods, and text-to-speech and speech-to-text technologies where needed. This allows student needs to be met in classrooms rather than through individualized “pull-out” instruction.
  • Make Children Self-Advocates

    In our Middle and Upper Schools, we emphasize responsibility, independence and learning how to ask for help in addition to academics. Research with alumni and teachers underscores the critical importance of motivation, persistence and self-knowledge to our students’ success. 

K-12 College Preparatory School Supporting Bright Students’ Individual Strengths and Challenges.

McLean School is an independent, co-educational, K-12 day school serving Maryland, Washington, and Virginia. McLean has for over sixty years been helping students realize their full potential by providing a comprehensive college preparatory program that emphasizes small classes and differentiated instruction. We embrace both traditional learners and ones with mild to moderate learning challenges – dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, ADHD, and challenges related to anxiety and executive functioning. Many of our students excel in some areas while benefiting from support in others.
8224 Lochinver Lane, Potomac, Maryland 20854  301.299.8277  admission@mcleanschool.org