Our 8th cohort of the Perrone-Sizer Institute for Creative Leadership at Hale (PSi) just finished our August Intensive. We introduced, co-created, and began to explore our 7 PSi domains (ethics, informed instruction, antiracism, community mobilization, continuous reflection, creativity, effective communication) through making or experiencing art, reading texts, writing and presenting public narratives, hanging on a rope swing, and engaging in a variety of protocols. Some of our days were at Cambridge College in a large airy classroom; some days were at Hale Education under a canopy of trees, or experimenting with challenge by choice on the zip line or hiking trails. Still other days were “on the road,” attending a live play by Company One, and getting to know Lynn MA through its schools, community arts organizations, and health center. Guest faculty worked  with us to introduce Public Narrative, Design Thinking, the Question Formulation Technique, and Instructional Leadership. And PSi faculty crafted detailed agendas to scaffold our learning objectives. Through group work, individual work, lecturettes, and field trips, we practiced a variety of protocols: Connections, What did we do?, The Four As, Text Rendering. All the reading assignments came BEFORE the intensive started. That helped! And, we always made room for laughter, fun, and quiet time. PSi privileges learning in many modalities and in many diverse environments.

As one participant said: 

I never had the opportunity to learn outdoors in a big group. The traditional classroom environment is great, but the outdoors is dope, and I hope I could expose my students to that type of learning. This experience has motivated me to find ways to connect art to the school as a whole.

Another commented this way: 

I love Hale. Nature is so essential for human beings in processing the world they live in. Connecting with the earth during this Intensive, through nature walks, team-building, and photography and games was so fulfilling to my spirit and made the days we float by so quick.

Here are some other final reflections from cohort members about the 2½ weeks: 

  • I felt like I was drinking from a fire hydrant. I definitely feel like I have changed as a person… I came with [one] perspective and I’m walking away acknowledging I can hold multiple. 
  •  At the end of the school year, we ended with a lack of hope and joy. We must invest time and space to allow that joy and hope to be expressed.
  • In a department meeting we have agendas and deadlines and things to get done right away, and I’m wondering how I can create space at our first meeting for members to do things in their own way and have their voices heard. How do I let people do things as they do best?
  • The opportunity to let the students lead. This has really been a theme this week.
  • Our relationships to one another [are] vital to my development, and the Intensive has made me see myself as a leader alongside with my fellow peers.
  • I appreciate the creative and artistic aspect of this program. Before this intensive summer, I had no idea of combining arts with leadership and I’m excited to put that into practice. 
  • I was forced to step out of my comfort zone every single day. Everyday there was something new–a new insight, understanding, a new way of thinking whether it was what  a colleague shared or something that was read or something a facilitator mentioned.

We were pleased that our PSiers embraced that “leading doesn’t mean getting people to do what you want; it means making change aligned with values.” This was particularly evident during our day in Lynn when we met with leaders from Raw Arts, who shared how, after long isolation due to the pandemic, their students used artwork to express the changes that they wanted to see in their communities and lives. Dr. Mahaniah, CEO of Lynn Community Health Center, said that he sustains hope by recognizing the successes they have, large and small, in meeting their key value–reducing their community’s pain, both physical and physiological. Former PSi 5 participant and now a principal in Lynn, Kendwy Valdez, emphasized that her “why” is always about listening to and raising up the multiple stories of her students’ and faculty’s experience. 

Participants connected to one another, building the foundations for a network based on trust and mutual respect. They took risks as they practiced new tools, tried on novel ideas, and shared a common language about leadership, including developing inside jokes! 

Our last day together we synthesized our learning through a variety of modalities: some drew sketches, others wrote, and still others performed. We witnessed the importance of taking small wins, leaning on one another, embracing failure, and considering when to move back and forth into the productive zone of disequilibrium (a reference to our readings). 

[I appreciated] the opportunity to synthesize our learning experiences for the past two weeks at PSi by creating an artistic representation of what those two weeks or tools meant for us. I was in awe to see all the different artistic abilities at play

The pictures and videos I took don’t quite capture the intensity of the August Intensive, but I think they capture some of the learning, and the fun…

Sharing Identity Boxes
Challenged by Choice on the Zipline