On October 8th a diverse crowd of educators filed into the Laser Dome at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center. However, none of them were there to see a laser show! They had all come to experience an immersive workshop designed and facilitated by youth from Sound Discipline’s DOOL program. DOOL (Designing Our Own Learning) is in its fourth year, bringing together students and educators to share power, develop leadership skills, and reimagine our educational system. The original funding for DOOL came through a grant from College Spark Washington.
DOOL Youth Present at the TAF Network for Edwork 2022 Convening
Youth and educators from Sound Discipline’s DOOL program have inspired crowds at educational conferences around the region – and on this day they led a workshop at Technology Access Foundation’s Network for Edwork 2022 Convening. The theme this year was Reclaiming Education Through Liberation, focused on tools to uproot unjust systems and create more equitable learning environments for everyone.
Sharing the Work from the Summer 2022 Leadership Retreat
At the Technology Access Foundation (TAF) convening, DOOL youth shared the work from the August 2022 DOOL Summer Leadership retreat. In August, youth (in collaboration with their educator allies) designed and prepared a workshop to share DOOL practices and mindsets that can be used to build more equitable and inspiring learning communities. Though DOOL youth had led workshops for educators before, this was the first time they have done so in-person since the pandemic – and it was a powerful experience for both the workshop participants and the DOOL leaders.
During our TAF session, titled Disrupting Power Dynamics of Hierarchy and Invigorating Student Voice and Power, DOOL youth shared tools for centering student voice, building shared power between youth and adults, and creating liberatory educational environments. The youth engaged the crowd in participatory practices meant to build authentic connection, starting by a call-and-response reading of the DOOL Ways of Being – a list of practices created at the summer leadership retreat. The list includes, among many other statements, “We hold ourselves accountable for creating an inclusive community.”
DOOL Youth Inspire Educators at the TAF Conference
The activities led by DOOL youth built in depth throughout the session, inviting greater collaboration and deeper reflection amongst the TAF conference participants.
The reflections the youth elicited from participants were powerful, and many were captured in words at the end of the session.
Here are some of the inspirations educators walked away with:
“I appreciated the bravery of DOOL youth stepping up to the invitation and sharing power – and the bravery of adults giving up power in order to grow with youth.”
“I appreciated hearing from students and recognizing how valuable their opinions are.”
“I appreciated the generosity of the DOOL student presenters for sharing with us today and for changing their schools for the better.”
“I appreciated the emphasis on writing your own narrative and how you present yourself authentically.”
“I learned new techniques to engage students and groups of people. I feel these techniques shift the power dynamic and levels who holds the power.”
“I learned new ways to make my class student-centered and how to give more opportunities to hear student voices.”
Educators Commit to Sharing Power
At the end of the TAF conference session, groups of participants made commitments regarding how they would bring what they learned from DOOL back into their schools. The list of commitments is a powerful testament to the impact DOOL youth were able to make on educators within a relatively short workshop:
“We will… Teach in a way that centers students; Empower student narratives; Share voice; Build on each other’s ideas and voices; Decenter who holds power and knowledge; Leave our ‘cool card’ in the trash; Disperse leadership opportunities whenever possible; Sustain community building from start to end of the school year; Continue to support youth in their voices and choices; Integrate student voice into our planning; Recenter youth programming; Inspire.”
DOOL Youth will Continue to Galvanize Changes in Education
As these seeds of educational change are carried back into schools by these workshop participants and the many other individuals touched by DOOL, we hope that our goal of creating a more equitable and liberatory educational system will continue to become more and more of a reality. And we already had another opportunity to inspire this sort of educational change – on November 8th DOOL youth led a workshop at the 2022 Decolonizing Education Conference!
Alan Wong is a Sound Discipline Facilitator