Start small. Fail Forward. Iterate. Learn. Incorporate user feedback. Grow.
Teaching and learning is a process of incremental gains. Large, wholesale shifts in education are not the norm. It is within the gray, ambiguous space of "two steps forward, one step back" that we as educators, we as learners, we as humans grow.
Recently, the Empathy Stage of the Design Thinking process has taken up more time on my weekly calendar, and rightfully so. From spending time on the va'a with student teachers/learners at Kānehūnāmoku, substitute teaching at my Teach For America Hawai'i placement school (Ilima Intermediate), and running pilot leadership modules with students in 'Ewa Beach, these past few weeks have been filled with interactions that push my thinking and vision beyond what it was before.
Take for example students in 'Ewa Beach completing a rapid-planning session to make incremental, positive changes within their community. We spent one hour lifting up issues facing our community that aligned with our lives and experience, worked in small groups to create small, scalable solutions, and presenting whole class to create a "game plan" for the 19 students in the class.
Before the module, I asked students: "on a scale from 1-5, answer this question: are you a leader?" The average: 2.6. Basically, a "hmm... not sure, maybe?"
After working through this process, and imagining leadership as an act to serve others, one where making incremental, positive changes within your school community, family, and life actually made you a leader, I re-asked the question: "are you a leader?" The average: 3.8.
A shift in mindset had occurred in the short hour we spent together. No longer was a leader just the principal, the Governor, or the captain of a sports team or JROTC; a leader was someone who cared about their community and had the will to create small, actionable steps that would lead to positive change.
I bring this lesson into my daily interactions in and out of the school setting; with adults and kids; with supporters and skeptics; with funders and community partners; families and Kupuna. How can we continue to create small, actionable steps that will make a positive impact on our community? How can we continue to encourage and supports our children to do so? What is our role as educators and mentors of a generation who has the potential to reimagine and shape the world we live in? All questions that I bring into this Monday, this week, and this next step in the foundation and formation of DreamHouse. I invite you to ask them with me.
Have a great week,