Video: Comparisons Lesson for Middle School Students

Have you been offering your whole self to the roles in your life?

On my road to becoming a creative leader, it’s interesting to take a look back at the positions I’ve held along my professional journey. One in particular, was as a middle school teacher in the middle of the Japanese countryside.

To get there was a journey in itself, flying from 24/7 neon-lit Las Vegas to a bustling Tokyo layover and then to the small airport Kagoshima International, where I then rode in a “Kei-Tora” (the equivalent of a countryside Ford F150 — mini version) to my countryside school to spend the next 3 years of my life.

Photo: Sand Castles, err, “Fortresses”

I’ll admit, I was originally stifled for creativity. For the first time, I experienced a heavy dose of culture shock being in a rural town of 7000. However I was not going to let the situation stop me from practicing / committing to creativity in my day to day. I was also certainly going to explore as much of this lifestyle as I could too. Working as a teacher, you’re already unconsciously juggling a ton of creative abilities just to get the ideas circulating in the classroom — but I had to take it to the next level. So, I decided to use my design thinking abilities to bring value to classroom materials.

Photo: Emotions Cards

Working with the ideas, likes and dreams of students, I wound up creating a variety of school-centric flash cards and materials. Using themes from our school, such as school uniforms, colors and even people, I was able to create a variety of materials they could relate to. I noticed a big improvement in the overall engagement in classrooms. Why be the standard teacher who just comes in and delivers a boring lecture? What if we could add in some personal flavor and make lessons pop so overall lessons could be enriching and memorable? These were the thoughts going through my head in overall lesson material development.

Photo: Higashikushira Middle School Action Flash Cards

Do you bring the creative fire to your job?