Lillian Hsu, Founding Principal of Latitude High School speaks on the value of collaboration among educators in order to create multidisciplinary projects that are both engaging and educational for students.
[MUSIC PLAYING] For my students for whom a lot of what I had come in prepared to do was just completely irrelevant, what would be engaging. So thinking about those entry points. Something that was sort of multimedia, right, by bring in the photography, something that felt artistic. Something that got kids out into the community. Something that allowed them to see their words as an artist’s palette.
All of those things I think not knowing again I had no framework for what project based learning was but just getting the sense of what would be motivating to a group of rambunctious ninth graders, right? That’s what made me discover the power of that. And then once I tried one project and found that to be successful, it was then the opportunity to think about how that could extend in other ways. And then also to bring in colleagues as part of that.
So I had a history teacher next door. And so we decided to collaborate together on a set of immigration podcasts. And again super early days where your podcasts were not a big thing back then. But it gave us a chance for students to interview both immigrants would move to the United States but also folks who had moved to California through the great migration. And then we brought the art teacher in.
The more that we brought in different colleagues to help the different pieces and made a few like we could go bigger and dream a little bigger in terms of the kinds of projects we took on. But it also gave us more of a sense of identity in terms of what our school was about because those shared experiences together as colleagues, it’s not just transformational for the kids but it’s also transformational for the adults. When you bring in other colleagues, the work feels less siloed and less lonely.
I think first of all but then also students start seeing the adults on the campus as a team. And also they’re just things that others can hold that I can’t try, I never, I felt like I could totally do all the writing pieces but I wanted my projects to also have a performative aspect and to have a strong history aspect and a strong artistic aspect in order to provide different kinds of access points for the different kinds of students we have.
And so I can’t do that alone. But by bringing colleagues into it, it allows you just a dream a little bigger and expand the scope of what’s possible.