While still a full-time student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, I was a teaching Fellow for “Organizing: People, Power, Change” with Marshall Ganz at Harvard Kennedy School for the Spring 2019 semester. I taught graduate students across Harvard and MIT the five leadership practices for community organizing: Public Narrative, Relationship-building, Structuring teams, Strategy and Action. Our 2019 teaching team introduced team-based organizing by incorporating key “teaming” principles from the work of Richard Hackman and Ruth Wageman, Professors of Psychology at Harvard. This innovation in the pedagogy helped create a deeply authentic experience for students to learn how to collaborate, navigate interpersonal conflicts, and lead a campaign together. It also created an incredible experience for us as we went through weekly (sometimes daily!) iterations to a four-month long course.
In addition to leading weekly sessions focused on the practice of these skills, I had a glimpse into each of my 12 students’ personal reflections on leadership as their campaigns progressed. These led to my favorite part of the experience: office hours spent in cozy nooks across campus where I coached them through emotional challenges in exercising leadership. This gave me a unique view into the reality of implementing campaigns on education, civic engagement and diversity in MBA classes.
Students at the end of this course reflected on having learned how to:
- Enable others to achieve shared purpose under conditions of uncertainty.
- Develop leadership, build community around that leadership and turn resources of that community into the power to achieve change.
- Develop and tell their stories of self, as opposed to sharing a “resume” version of themselves
- Distinguish between organizing and mobilizing and how organizing creates real change.