It starts with trust: trusting others with your vulnerabilities.
The students knew that we had committed to present prototypes in six weeks. They also knew that I didn’t know how to code. That we all, together, had to figure out how we were going to deliver these prototypes.
While I could coach them on how to learn and how to manage their projects, I wasn't in control of the process. I was only a guide. We wouldn't be successful unless they were all actively contributing to the solution.
This was the same authentic approach I used with the software development teams I managed in my company. I decided to treat these students with the same respect and expectation.
They realized that I was serious, and they quickly stepped up. We developed a powerful learning community.
To help support their learning days each week, I would put up on the screen the relative progress of each of the students in the online coding course. I told them that this wasn’t a race, but that they should look at the names of students who were further along than they were. These were students that they could reach out to for help. I then asked them to look at the names of those who were not as far along. These were all of the students whom they had a responsibility to help. We were all in this process together.
On the creating days, they began to realize that I was serious not only about believing in their greatness but expecting it. They weren’t used to an adult talking to them this way. And most of the teams began to deliver each week, on schedule, what they had committed to. As they did, their confidence and creative genius began to shine.
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