As another start to the school year kicks off for many students, TakingITGlobal was invited to spend a week at the International School of Helsinki (ISH) in Finland to work with students, administrators, teachers and parents. The theme of the week focused on the question “How do we transform our inspirations into thoughtful actions?”. TakingITGlobal co-founder Michael Furdyk and our Classroom Collaboration Specialist Mali Bickley joined me in a week of facilitating interactive sessions.
We can express kindness in our thoughts, words and actions. We started our keynote session with reflections on the power of a smile and how we can increase our own happiness along with the well-being of others around us by simply extending a friendly smile. In our follow-up workshop discussions with elementary students, many additional examples of taking thoughtful action were shared ranging from inviting others to play during recess to holding the door open. Students took part in a DOT Day Activity where Mali Bickley read the book Dot by Peter Reynolds and students then took a sheet of paper and markers to draw and write individual reflections on how they each wanted to make their mark.
With any form of complex problem solving, it is important to recognize that there is not one simple answer, but rather, many possibilities and approaches that can be taken. In order to illustrate this, teams of students took part in our SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Idea Slam. This exercise allowed teams to brainstorm many possible ways to take action on different United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
We all care about something, whether or not we realize it. We think it’s important to be able to incorporate the issues we personally care about into the projects that we embark upon. During our Social Innovation Hackathon, we invited participants to think about one thing they would want to change or improve about their community, country or the world. The answer to this question was the basis for the formation of groups based on similar topics and themes. Teams then had an opportunity to develop an idea together related to the issue. We ran three different hackathon experiences and it was interesting to note that the topics and issues identified were similar across the different groups.
When different people get together as a group for the first time, it is sometimes difficult to ensure that everyone feels comfortable sharing their perspectives. Building trust is the foundation of strong communication between team members. In order to help each group expedite the process of coming together as a team, we led an activity involving clay and blindfolds. This exercise allowed participants to heighten other senses, have fun and interact in a different way in order to create bonds of trust.
Standing up in front of people to pitch an idea can be terrifying. Making a pitch is an essential part of transforming ideas into actions as it creates the space to both clarify the focus and generate support. At the end of our Social Innovation Hackathon, each project team was provided with the platform to make a 2-minute pitch in front of the entire group. Having the Head of School and Assistant Head of School sit on the panel to both listen and extend words of support was transformational as it provided an atmosphere of encouragement. I was truly impressed to see each of the project ideas presented and look forward to hearing about how they unfold over the school year!
Transforming our ideas and inspirations into thoughtful actions involves kindness, creativity, passion, collaboration and courage. On behalf of our team at TakingITGlobal, I would like to thank the team at the International School of Helsinki for welcoming us and for supporting a culture of social innovation in your classrooms and wider community.
We had so much fun learning with you!