The Official Blog of Julia Morgan School for Girls

Who Inspires You?

Each week at All School Meeting, I speak to the girls of a woman or girl in the local, national, or global arena who inspires me. When I began this ten years ago, I had no idea how the girls would look forward to it, speak with me about it, or share their own inspirational women with me. It is the stories of these women that we relish as a community, that help us to understand the power and the possibilities they hold for all of us. This young tradition has become a part of the fabric of each week.

Recent Inspirational Women have included (pictured below, clockwise from left): Pat Woertz, CEO of Archer Daniel Midland, Alecia DeCoudreaux, Mills College President, Susan Burgess Lent, Founder and Executive Director of Women’s Centers International, Young Author Caragh O’Brien, and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, the 50th Mayor of Oakland and the second woman to hold this office.
pat   alecia   susan
caragh IMG_4519

Professional collaboration redefined. The messy magic of the design process. School leader as teacher and learner.

These would be my personal subtitles for the incredibly inspiring and rewarding professional development experiences I had this summer.

nsrfFirst stop was Los Angeles for the Critical Friends New Coaches Training presented by the National School Reform Faculty. Two cohorts gathered to learn how to facilitate small groups of Critical Friends. From Day 1, we created a safe space for sharing our professional work, which often feels so deeply personal, and practiced giving and receiving feedback and support through group protocols emphasizing equity, efficiency, and purpose. I left the experience invigorated in my vision for a more collaborative and growth-minded school culture, asking myself, “What if teacher development began with the teacher’s own questions and desire for feedback? How could that change the culture of a school?”

With those dreams of a culture of feedback in mind, I went to Seattle a few weeks later to help coach a small cohort of teachers who wanted to learn how to landdimplement design thinking in the classroom. Time to put my learning into action! After just two days of teacher training in design thinking and leadership development, these brave educators dove in and coached groups of high schoolers to complete a five-day sustainable food design challenge. So much juicy learning each day: here are jut a few thoughts from the journal I kept. “How often do we as teachers assume the right to give feedback to a student? How would it feel different if we began with ‘May I give you some feedback’ and asked the student to share what s/he wanted feedback on?” Or, “The d. school graphic representation of the design thinking process is a lie—it’s not a nice rainbow caterpillar, it’s a tumbleweed with a shooting star coming out of it!” Or, “The product of the design thinking process is so much less important than the student’s learning about themselves, leadership, and group process.” I just had a reunion with this cohort last Friday, and I am thinking about how we are all implementing new ways of teaching and being in the classroom and so each doing our part to move education forward.

catdcWith those dreams of a culture of feedback in mind, I went to Seattle a few weeks later to help coach a small cohort of teachers who wanted to learn how to implement design thinking in the classroom. Time to put my learning into action! After just two days of teacher training in design thinking and leadership development, these brave educators dove in and coached groups of high schoolers to complete a five-day sustainable food design challenge. So much juicy learning each day: here are jut a few thoughts from the journal I kept. “How often do we as teachers assume the right to give feedback to a student? How would it feel different if we began with ‘May I give you some feedback’ and asked the student to share what s/he wanted feedback on?” Or, “The d. school graphic representation of the design thinking process is a lie—it’s not a nice rainbow caterpillar, it’s a tumbleweed with a shooting star coming out of it!” Or, “The product of the design thinking process is so much less important than the student’s learning about themselves, leadership, and group process.” I just had a reunion with this cohort last Friday, and I am thinking about how we are all implementing new ways of teaching and being in the classroom and so each doing our part to move education forward.