- I have a bias towards action. As an educator, grad student, writer and parent, this serves me well and pushes me forward.
Learning to ideate, then put thought to form are important, if not essential, characteristics of a design thinking mindset. Leading a schoolwide project required something more than just my enthusiasm and willingness to act.
I was introducing the concept of design thinking to my colleagues. Rather than learning about how to develop a design thinking mindset before embarking on a school wide, year long project, I developed the project so that the entire school, teachers and students, could learn about design thinking while simultaneously doing the work.
Although the end results surpassed any expectations, navigating through the project was not always easy. Many teachers were uncomfortable with outcome unknown and the designing of authentic experiences where the curriculum met the field.
So here was my test of character. I have learned to trust the process and to act. Here, rather than act or push my views on my colleagues, I needed to listen to the concerns and observe the actions of my colleagues, grounded in curiosity but also apprehension and fear. I listened, scaffolded, modelled, collaborated and provided different levels of support for anyone who needed it.
As a leader, this taught me to expand my vision to incorporate different perspectives of the whole team. I have always related well to people but realized that in order to grow, people need to feel safe and supported, yet challenged in ways that are appropriate. Combining action and listening helped to keep it real and relevant for everyone. I can measure the success in the enthusiasm and momentum generated by the sound sculpture and the fine arts fair, and also in the number of staff members who are now actively pursuing design thinking as part of their pedagogy.