Teaching is like a martial art, and Bruce Lee’s philosophy connects to personalization. A quote that I have heard that is often attributed to Bruce Lee is “Jeet Kune Do is formless, so it can assume all forms.” To me, this synthesizes the function of Odyssey: to learn about High Tech High, engage in projects so you can personalize the principles of project-based learning, and add your own teaching style. To negotiate the different forms in which PBL can take place, so you can assume any strategy that is needed.
The project slice provided participants with a wonderful opportunity for participants to immerse themselves in project-based learning. There were numerous moments during the slice when I found myself jotting down notes (stealing teaching strategies) that I could absorb into my own teaching practices. After the project slice, as the High Tech HTH Core Values and Foundations Course began, I was able to absorb (steal) valuable activities that gave students an opportunity to listen to a variety of voices. There was a lot of talk about equity in practice means to honor the experiences of everyone in the room, and it was evident that all the activities there was an opportunity for everyone to have their voice heard.
I learned a lot about equity. The most significant learning I had about equity is that I have a litany of questions about it. Every time equity was brought up, I noticed that it could be interpreted differently. For example, a person could look at the image on the left and think that “equality” is “equity”, and assume that the image on the left isn’t equitable because the tallest person does not have a box on which to stand. One of the definitions of equity that I heard was “ensuring that all students get what they need to access the curriculum.” I am interested in this definition of equity because a teacher could conclude that a student doesn’t need extra support in order to access the curriculum, but spend time with students who need extra support. This could turn the phrase into “ensuring that all students get what they need to access the curriculum even if that means giving more access to some students than others.”
I also learned that having students share their experiences is a first step in engaging in equitable practices, but it isn’t the only step. There is a tendency in conversations to assume that because there is a diverse collection of voices speaking then equity has been achieved, but I think it’s the lens through which one is speaking that equitable practices can be found. People of color can embrace and espouse oppressive narratives, and it is important that those narratives be challenged even when it’s been preached by people of color.
I aspire to be a leader that connects with colleagues. I aspire to be a leader that hears. I aspire to be a leader that notices. One of my favorite quotes from the late great Dicky Fox is “if the heart is empty then the mind doesn’t matter.” When I first heard the quote, I knew what it meant but I did not know how it felt. I have experienced the pitfalls of having personal interactions devoid of the heart, I have also learned how uninspiring it can be to have professional interactions that are absent of the heart as well. Teaching is emotional. Learning can be emotional. I think a good leader is someone that can combine the hearts and minds of colleagues and inspire and challenge the team to do something great.
Question: What is equity?