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Designing (Ourselves) for Racial Justice: Self Care
February Design Thinking Breakfast with Louie Montoya
Friday, February 26, 2021

Host Louie Montoya talks about self-care being a critical piece of design work. What does it mean to do equity for design? ⠀

About the Hosts

  • Louie Montoya is a learning experience designer at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design K12lab. Louie works with educators on learning and implementing design in the classroom. As an illustrator, Louie works to unlock students’ and educators’ creative confidence through doodling and drawing. Today, he leads the Deeper Learning Puzzle Bus, a K12 lab mobile experiment designed to look at how “escape rooms” can change the way educators think about measurement and assessment, as well as bring more delight into the classroom.A first-generation Mexican American, Louie developed an interest in other cultures that anchors his work on behalf of equitable practices in the design process. As an experience designer at the Business Innovation Factory in Rhode Island, Louie co-designed and ran the Teachers for Equity Fellowship that worked with educators across the United States to address issues of racial inequity in their schools and classrooms. As a member of the Deeper Learning network Louie focuses on building capacity around skills such as collaboration, communication and critical thinking with students.


  • Niesha Ford is a second-year graduate student at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Niesha works with multiple organizations committed to causes such as: providing services for people experiencing homelessness, encouraging positive racial perspectives, and working with historically marginalized groups to combat the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Additional Resources

Connect with Louie on LinkedIn:

About Design Thinking Breakfast

The Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking hosts a monthly design thinking breakfast, where we showcase the work of design thinkers around the world. These breakfasts are a space to build community among those using design, design thinking, and related methods for social impact with some local flavor, particularly from the greater New Orleans area and the Gulf South. In a one-hour morning session of creativity and networking, participants have the opportunity to explore design methods and applications.



Niesha Ford


Alright, good morning everyone, thank you so much for coming to our DT breakfast for February.


My name is Niesha Ford and I’m going to be your co-host for this morning, and today we have a really nice sessions I can’t wait for you guys to experience it but right now I’m actually going to turn it over to Dr Leslie Noel so she can just talk a little bit about the Taylor Center.


Lesley-Ann Noel


Hi, good morning everybody, welcome to the DT Breakfast, this is one of our one of our design thinking programs, we have two main programs the Semester dt breakfast, which is a really informal Friday morning it’s a once a month program where we bring people together, to chat to do some activities to work with a guest to meet people network, you know walk with coffee or something like that right and  then the other activity that we have is DT Gumbo, which takes place on a periodic basis, I can’t even be specific about the period, maybe, like every week or every two weeks during a six-week period.


So, for DT breakfast, it’s light it’s about networking learning something new chatting with some people and connecting. Then DT gumbo we’re trying to introduce people to different design research methods that they can use in their work. So we introduce people to a method, then we do two activities we talked about it a little bit and we’ve been talking about how to do these methods remotely so like just last week or this week, we did workshop on building rapport remotely so that you can do your qualitative research we have another one coming up in about two weeks -time to three weeks.


So, I don’t know the time frame now you say well give us a time frame, we have one coming up on using personas in research, and then we also have one on storyboarding you know, like using a storyboard to help people,

help people talk about an issue and actually all of the dt gamble’s we’re focusing on people’s experience of the pandemic. And we’re working with a public health researcher so we’re like testing out these methods so that people in public health can use these methods later on in their work.


Today we have a fantastic guest Oh well, sorry we before I talk about the guests, the guests is fantastic but were from the Taylor Center, Phyllis M. Taylor  Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking, follow us on social media, find our website will put it in the chat later, but we have a lot of activities around social innovation and design thinking. Great, now, let’s talk about this fantastic guests, that we have, so we have Louie Montoya, who is from the D school.


Louie is a really good friend of mine. I don’t have the formal bio in front of me I think Niesha might have it, but I consider Louie like what am I best ease interested in race, interested in education, he’s trained as an anthropologist and is a fantastic illustrator so I gave you the friend intro, I don’t know if you have a more formal intro for the week but I’m just excited to hear what he does today.


Niesha Ford


And I’m actually going to let Louie introduce himself….


Louie Montoya


Yeah, thank you, first of all, as the all these design thinking sessions, making me hungry. I hope I get invited to gumbo, amazing. I’m also probably not going to give too much of a professional introduction of myself, but I will say that, yes, I am Louie Montoya, I come from the Stanford D school, which is an interesting institution it’s not actually a school we don’t actually give a degree in design well, one of the things that makes it special is because of that we take in a wide range of different students who can take courses.


That are in their respective fields, so that we don’t just teach design we teach design within education, we teach design within healthcare, we teach design within finance. So it’s more nuanced we always partner with an external and professional usually someone in the field, or also another academic from Stanford and usually co-create classes and we’re all we’re all about co-creation so.


One of the things I do at Stanford is just that, within the education space, so I spend just as much time, if not more time with teachers out in the K 12 field. Than I do with Stanford students and part of that is because I want to make sure everything I designed is easily accessible is free and open source and all those good things. And also because I just love, teachers and facilitators and offering interesting experiences to them something they sell only get. A lot of my work as Leslie mentioned, kind of found itself in the intersections of design or design thinking, some people call it, and, race or equity and then also education and I’ve tried to kind of bridge those things in a lot of different ways for those of you unfamiliar with equity design, tou know, is something that is somewhat emerging but it’s also somewhat old right I think of social justice organizations have been doing equity design work for many, many, many years.


And some of that is looking at the best practices, or what does that mean. But i’m particularly interested in helping schools navigate some of the complexities around systemic racism, something that we have seen an uptick in or perhaps we just have more visibility into right now and helping them figure out some of those really, really difficult issues using design so that’s what I’m interested in those are the types of things that that motivate and inspire me and a little taste of what I’ll give you today, all the way in a very, very different way.


Alright, so that’s a little bit about me I would be remiss if I didn’t give you all the opportunity to learn a little bit about one another, and so I actually want to start. today off has any good facilitator would with what we call a stoke or just a warm up activity and this one was borrowed from a friend and a colleague and

adapted to kind of lead into the other activity that will do today, this is called three minute know me and I’ll actually share my screen because there’ll be some instructions, but I promise you, they won’t be too hard.


Okay, all right, yada yada that’s me okay this cool three minute know me all right all that we’re going to do here, is we’re going to be shepherded into breakout rooms and you’re going to find yourself with two other people to the people, maybe you haven’t met maybe you’ve met them before, but all we’re gonna do is we’re going to answer a list of questions that you will get okay pretty simple there’s a bunch of questions and you’re going to just as an individual read through all the questions and answer them as you go down as quickly as possible, maybe you’ll get through it, maybe you want.


The kicker is you’ll only have three minutes to do so, and the other two folks will just get to listen right listen and know that they will be next because at the end of that three minutes, we will rotate. And the second person will then go, so the only thing you really have to do is decide who’s going first in the group and then start answering some of these questions, Okay. Super detailed list of instructions, right here, but shouldn’t be that hard and I will send you, because when you go into breakout rooms obviously won’t have access to this slide but I will send you, if I can open up the chat here the link to do the questions you know.


If I can find my chat here hold on. Here we go all right gefore I go, though, is there anybody that’s incredibly confused has no idea what i’m talking about it’s too early, they haven’t even spoken yet it’s so early I suppose it’s earlier for me and where i’ve put the link in the chat so let’s do this first why doesn’t everybody just open that up give you a second to do so, and just hit me with a thumbs up or like give me some visual cue that that Google Doc has opened up that it has questions on it, and that you can look at it,


Everyone’s saying no.


Glad I’ve done this. We need to access


Oh that’s because that’s the wrong, That is the wrong Google Doc hold on here.

Okay. Let me stop sharing screen for a second.


Just because my chat goes away try


This one.


Somebody somebody in from France it’s wonderful. I was complaining because it’s California and it’s a little bit earlier. Okay, Hello, okay good all right did that one work?


Excellent and we see that there’s questions? Okay, so again all you’re going to happen is you’re going to be taken into a breakout room with two other people. One of you will say I’m brave and I will go first.


I’ll give you three minutes you will read through them, maybe somebody keep time, i’ll try to keep time for you and send that as a message, but keep time and just try to get us through as many questions as possible that that’s all you gotta do decide who goes first get through them.


After the three minutes, make sure you switch so if you’re in between question you’re like, i’m off the hook, next person gets to go and answer some questions alright. Are we ready ready ish? I don’t even need ready, I need like ready ish,  ready it’s just good. All right cool all right…


Niesha Ford








Louie Montoya


Welcome back.



Niesha Ford


This is our two, minute group


Louie Montoya


Oh, yeah the two minute, they had an extra minute. That makes a lot of sense.


How was that you’ll you’ll get you’ll get the debrief twice.


Julie Sedlemeyer


It was good, yeah, we actually had some similarities and our answers.


Louie Montoya


Oh, that’s interesting. Had you had you all met before, first time? Did any of those questions feel like to personal? You’re like oh my God did anybody skip a question? Tell the truth.



Julie Sedlemeyer


There’s some I couldn’t really answer it, so I don’t know what i’d be in a rock band.


Louie Montoya


Excellent alright welcome back everybody, very good, great to see your faces in the in the grid here. Excellent, oh I that note, did anyone get through all of the questions?


Okay yeah did any did any team have every members get through all the questions? Was it one about a super bowl dance did I put that one in there, not this time hmm sometimes i’ll do the Superbowl dance, maybe on Zoom it gets a little sketchy, you’re like I’m wearing pajama bottoms I can’t get up and dance in front of a camera eight in the morning.


All right, um a couple questions, I just want to know, maybe let’s we have a few people here so maybe you can respond in the chat if you feel so inclined. And we can read them out, but I just want to know one how that felt to kind of share some of these answers it, especially if you didn’t know these other people. You know, maybe someone somewhat things you hadn’t thought about what was that, like had that feel to share some of these answers are some stranger’s. Good? Why was that, why was that good?


Brigitte Lundin


Maybe I was just lucky to come across Damond and Rafe, it was just good.


Louie Montoya


It felt it felt, just nice to connect with people? is that what it was? Nice yes.


Damon Lombard


And I had some really great people in my room to okay.


Louie Montoya


Excellent. I mean they were always great you just found out, they were great so that’s that that in of itself, I think, is the success.


Anyone else nice to connect under time pressure. There was no time for emotion? That’s interesting.


Do you mean in  how you answered? or like how you were able to hear some of people’s like you weren’t able to empathize when they said something?


Rafe Steinhauer (he/him)


Oh no, it was fantastic to hear. Damon and then Brigitte and I had a minute total so we did 30 seconds just


Louie Montoya


Oh wow.


Rafe Steinhauer (he/him)


It’s just no emotion and are sharing


Louie Montoya


You’re just like robotic, going down the list. Great alright well i’m glad that we struck the right balance of not being too personal but maybe something quirky enough to be like wait, what did that just say what about a rock band.


Great you know part of why I like doing that, especially over Zoom or like when when I was facilitating in person, I facilitated a lot of workshops. around design thinking like to me, ultimately, the initial goals is to get everybody comfortable with one another because, like you, can’t learn anything if you’re not feeling safe or you feel vulnerable. You can’t trust other people, and we spend a lot of time and a lot of people know I think folks at the D school.


For all these like fun games and maybe it comes off as  having too much levity or you know we’re talking about serious things but we’re doing all these things ahead of time and not getting into the content until you know we’ve had many, many days of icebreaker type activities and things of that and all that stuff I found is just so necessary it’s interesting when I started doing a lot of that on Zoom, how much students really love that and how much they really crave that, because obviously we’re not connected, so any moment to make intentional space or time to let us do something that we that we really, really need to do, whether we can acknowledge it or not, I think, is really, really important so thanks for doing that one, I hope that was a cool experience


Two, let me put this on the front end, everything that I try to design is is open source like I want folks to use it. Like I will give you these instructions, you can run it a fun activity, if you have you know, students, whether they’re in the university or you know K 12 students. Folks love it so you can take everything that I have, we will demo it here today all right excellent, let me go back to sharing my screen and we will get on with, with the presentation okay.


Cool so that was three minute know me, let’s see here good. Okay, I want to try as quickly as I can, to go over a couple of projects before digging into one more activity and alot of folks know me for a kind of strange project that kind of emerged in my work somewhat accidentally like it was a side hobby was really just a way for me to get into cool education conferences for free and that turned into a big thing, and it is really based around my disdain for scantron tests.


Now I know they’re like a necessary evil, and in many ways, they were developed to be a kind of equitable system right if we standardized testing, we know that every student is getting. Ideally, the same quality education and those that aren’t we can look at those schools and say hey you know what do we need to do to get students getting that quality education, so that they can all answer these standardized tests, that’s like the intention, some of you are like giving me outside I like I don’t know they haven’t seemed to done that they’ve seemed to created more in equity scantrons. I’m talking about standardized testing and I’m not sure if it’s as big of an issue.


In Spain or France, but here in the United States, we are just absolutely obsessed with the standardized tests and if you have children. Right now, who are in school my heart goes out to you because it is such a heartache for everybody. Like everybody’s students hate them teachers hate them like administrators hate wasting all the time doing them. Parents hate them because their kids are always stressed out so it’s like it’s a it was a good system, but in practice it was just not in any way human feeling right and so that got me thinking well, I like the idea of testing students, I think it’s good it’s like a great thing we want to teach them things and we want to know what they’ve learned right it’s good for us it’s good for them, but I don’t think it has to be as awful as sitting down in a little you know square with dividers so that you can’t look at anyone else and. filling in these really, really cold and in personal scan tron tests.



I wanted to instead think about what are the things that we actually want students to do we want them to collaborate, we want them to be able to think critically and even if you have a great scantron test you can’t put a question about collaboration, because that’s like an obvious answer and be like yeah I like to collaborate great next question how can I show, you how I collaborate, that was the question I was really stuck on so my hatred of standardized tests are not my hatred, but my questions around standardized tests, also with my kind of

hunger to try to actually test to the right things led to this really, really strange set of experiments that focused around games, particularly, escape games or escape rooms or puzzle rooms has anyone heard of these.


So anyone been to one raise your hand if you’d like been to an escape room.

Okay, Laura, have you ever heard of one? Okay, yes, all right for and for those that don’t an escape room are these weird businesses that seemingly popped up overnight and now, maybe might not exist, just because for a year we haven’t been able to get back into one, but there are these there’s these activities games essentially where you and a group of you know, six or seven other people will go to a place and it’s usually some sort of office building and they’ve they’ve converted a room or set of rooms into like a life like real time game it, really immersive where you’re answering sequential puzzles in order to get out in the time allotted which is usually one hour.


And some of these are really sophisticated game, some of them are more basic they’re like, you know, find this object find the key and then you know, open up the door and go through the door, but some of them can be really, really sophisticated and we just love that we. Every time that we get went to an escape room just kind of for fun, we were like this is a better indicator of how I collaborated than any test I’ve ever taken can we use that.


So what I started doing was trying to design my own puzzles that were built all around collaboration so. I wanted a puzzle that both you could kind of mix in academic content, because that’s what teachers need to do, obviously, they still have to teach towards you know these standards, but also that would enable teachers to be able to measure how their students were working together how their students were we’re solving you know novel issues and things like that. And they look pretty rough at first, but they developed over time, I did a lot of testing and got to a set of puzzles that I said I can do something with this, I can make an escape room.


And I want to make it in a bus, I want to make it in a bus and just so randomly at that point, I was starting to work at at the design school. And they were like Oh, we have an old truck that we used to use as like a mobile workshop. Do you want it we’re not using it right now I said yes, give me the truck and I sketched out a diagram of what an escape room would look like inside there and well.

built it because, of course, and I essentially made a really condensed experience, mostly for teachers.


Not necessarily to test well to test their collaboration, but to show how it worked right, so I created an escape room built around collaboration in the back of an old delivery truck I created a set of materials like, trackers that would look at like I could I could I would be the observer, and I could watch all of the teachers engaging in this escape room. And I could tell you when folks were collaborating, I could tell you when folks were you know communicating well or when communicating communication started to break down, and then we would have a conversation about that afterwards.


And really the intention of it was just to get teachers to think differently about assessment. To say all right, I still have to do these standardized tests, but not every one of my tests needs to be this way it can be engaging it can be fun, it can be something completely weird that students will remember. And I can have a good time making it right, because the other thing is like teachers don’t want to make these boring tests, they want to do something fun exciting, so I started just designing a bunch of escape rooms. One on the bus, but some i’d go to like conferences and workshops and I would just drive this bus around is cool and be like hey you want to go to escape room.


And the best thing about it, the best thing about it was it was the first time in a long time that I just got to see teachers laugh. That’s so random such a stressful job, but just to get to see teachers laugh was a reward and of itself. And then, after that, like everything was there, because they had such a positive experience the immediate reaction was I’m going to make one tomorrow, what do I need to do to do that I’m like well here’s a bunch of low cost ways that you can do that.


I made all my puzzles out of cardboard, some of them were nicer pieces of cardboard, but things that were cheap and easy to do so, not only did I kind of designed this experience, but I designed, an opportunity for them to kind of re envision that experience and then Luckily, there was, like other at that point organizations, that came along, who did very similar things that I could also connect them to some that had like prepackaged like puzzles in escape rooms that you could purchase or some that just had kind of like hey here’s how I did it at a library, you might try this out here’s the things that I used to make it work.


And, and it become you know, one of the most popular projects in mind, just because I think it’s so it was such a visceral thing like anyone that has gone through that experience will remember it, and that was just a really special project to me. All right, these are some of the kind of pieces that go along with it, that the ways in which you measure collaboration, because, as it turns out that’s actually not easy to do, how you measure collaboration and luckily, we had some researchers at Stanford that were really occupied with this idea and they were doing all these crazy studies, I had one who would just record these meetings of designers in Silicon Valley and just try to break down what they were doing and created an entire code to kind of translate.


Every single thing that they did both and how they responded, or if they challenged, an idea or they built an idea, all this to find out that there is no golden rule for how to collaborate. That presents a huge challenge if I’m trying to say hey I need I need to know what good collaboration is what they found instead is, it is a matter of how a group does in adapting to each other right so, for instance in one group, like in you know say all of us break into two and we’re have a collaborative project.


In some instances, folks talking over each other with ideas and just interrupting and just going like really, really wild is a great thing. And in another situation that might be seen as like offensive somebody might get really turned off by that I want my fair time to think through things and sharing go slow. And so what matters is how you are able to reflect on what you are doing in that moment and adjust to other people because if I’m one of those persons that just likes to like shoot out ideas and I’m always in brainstorming mode and I get a group that’s more pensive that needs. That wants time to really like reflect on something and then share one by one, I need to be able to make that adaptation.




So, for an educator doing an escape room I need to teach students, how to do that that’s, the key to collaboration, and so I created a lot of tools and resources around the reflection of how to do that okay, we’re getting a little short on time so i’m going to start to speed through things and because I do want to get into an activity, the next thing is around, it’s like a really specific project that I did with a really specific type of person, and I was going to all these education, conferences and meeting teachers or folks that worked at nonprofits within education.



Especially folks of color but people who are just justice oriented like social justice oriented who wanted to do justice work, who found themselves in positions that weren’t always supported by their leaders right so. We started kind of connecting with these folks and seeing that their experience was very similar. And you know a few years ago, like we had so much political upheaval, here we started, seeing it just became a lot more visible talk to the need to talk about race and all of a sudden, like all these conferences, I was going to start talking about you know, social justice and race, in education and all these things. And that was a good thing, by and large, but one of the things I noticed like it was always these courses designed for folks who had never thought about this before and I was like that’s great because we want to onboard a lot of folks who want to do this type of work, but also, I was worried about my educators who have done this for a long time and trying to think of ways to continue to support them in this, to offer more high-level opportunities for them.


And so we came up with this concept island in the storm which is a metaphor it’s a metaphor for the type of teachers, that I was meeting who really were doing

something special but found themselves all alone in it, they didn’t feel like they had colleagues to connect with they didn’t feel like they had leadership that would support them, and so they were always kind of navigating this tricky situation and doing it alone and not knowing if there was anyone out there, and there were, and there were other folks out there, so we wanted to design some sort of experience for them.


Again, to continue to support them and let them have a more advanced conversation about the type of work that they were doing again largely centered in racial equity. That led to a class that we taught last quarter, where we really try to like codified exactly what that was with a set of curriculum and activities that would that would be built around supporting those educators. And so what we started to do was create these type of experiences that that kind of went, they weren’t counter to like popular design thinking, but in a way, like we think of designer and the justice space like when you’re talking about things like identity and race. Those are things you got to go slow on because that’s really serious and heavy work right, and if you were just to, to kind of

speed over that because you know, for the sake of being fun and exciting and as designed seems to draw in and you’d really be missing something, and you could even cause more harm.



So, we kind of wanted to build things and do things, but we also wanted to take time to like reflect and go slow on things that we had initially just passed over one of them was around how we think about like the intentions, the intentions that we set for ourselves, like I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a conference or workshop and then like they’re like all right guys we’re going to set some intentions. But then, like the facilitator just sets the intentions and then also you like kind of forced to agree and then it goes on a whiteboard and then it goes in the back of the class or in the back of the workshop and never are they spoken about again right. This is like very, very common experiences, how do you actually make that like a living breathing thing that we do get to return to right, you can design for that, and so we did in our classes are the types of prototypes that we did.


We also knew that we were going to get a lot of different people, some might be really far along their equity journey and some might be, you know somewhat new or even kind of skeptical and so we wanted to create different on ramps we kind of played has anyone heard of the idea of like an identity based affinity group.


Has anyone ever been in one? Okay, some folks, yes.


Essentially less it’s just like if you’re having a conversation, especially if it was like a difficult conversation, you might if you’re in a big group of people want to be around people who share a similar experience to you to talk about that and unpack that kind of with your own people, so, for me, you know my family’s from Mexico, I have a lot of affinity with Latin X folks and when I’m talking about race like sometimes I want to talk about it, we let next folks because we all share an experience it’s very important to me.

And you know some you know black folks might want to be around black folk and do that first and then be able to come back together that way, we feel safe, these are difficult conversations that can be harmful, we want to make sure that we’re making that as safe as possible, so, that’s where like affinity groups came I didn’t make up this thing like it people have been doing it for a long time.




But what I didn’t notice was there was no clear way and how to get into an affinity group or how to get people to agree on like what should be the categories of an affinity group or like how do I decide what somebody races like I can’t do that it’s complex stuff so going slow and things like how you unwrap people into these types of experiences to say: Here’s why we want to use affinity groups here’s when we want to use affinity groups here’s how we’re going to use them. Let that be completely dictated by the participants and not me the facilitator, is a better way to do things and students responded really well. So, all we’re doing here is just like in designing with intention and the other big thing about design equity work specifically is a lot of us do it as individuals, just because it is kind of an issue that people hold close to their hearts and, you know, I have a belief that as much as there’s like a bias towards action there should also always be a bias towards collaboration and coalition and Community building.


And so we wanted to ultimately turn designers like single designers who are trying to you know these educators who are doing this work in their schools that were alone into a coalition of teachers who are doing this in practice, who could share ideas and things like that and because that’s, the only way anything is going to move em, and so we kind of developed frameworks for that to folks allow our participants who are largely you know, teachers and facilitators to be able to understand what they need, but also then to say Okay, and now, let me bring other people on board so I’m not the only ones doing it it’s really important.


All right, and then the last thing is, design is one of these special fields where I feel almost more than any other field who you are as a person, all your experiences your life experiences your history your family’s history.

The things that you desire or care about our value all of those things influence your design so much more than the training you’ve had more than any spreadsheet or framework ever will who you are, as a person influences your design it’s like a highly subjective field it’s very interesting and for a long time there was this notion that it wasn’t and that if you design, something it was like the best possible thing you went and talked to people.


You know exactly what they mean and you designed this thing for them that’s exactly what they want, but then we started to kind of dig into it and say like actually no like your interpretation of what somebody else wants is very much so colored by your own experience right. And that’s okay that’s not a bad thing, but it does mean we need to get really good at understanding, who we are and understanding when our bias comes in and trying to understand, what we need to be able to do design work because, ultimately, I think, design work is about service right it’s in service of other people, and for that reason we oftentimes neglect the most important things that we need to be in service of which is also ourselves.


And, especially when you’re designing, in really difficult spaces like within education talking about something as paramount as racial inequity or injustice, a lot of self-care work is sorely needed sorely needed, so we spent a lot of time designing these experiences, one of which I want to share with you but nature, I want to check in with time, there’s no way I haven’t gone over.


Niesha Ford


Right, we’re at 8:50 right now.



Louie Montoya


Okay, And we’re done at the hour? But we do want to leave room for feedback right.



Niesha Ford




Louie Montoya


All right, I’m going to share, I’m going to share the project we’re gonna we’re gonna listen to a track together and then I’m going to give you the tracks and, hopefully, you can listen to them, but they’re all around self care so let’s let’s at least, you know what, so we could say we can be remorseful when we skip it, but essentially, I returned an activity around, how do you think about the things that you need to be able to be a good designer to be you know, healthy and happy.And, which was originally like a kind of text-based document and we wanted to make it an audio experience because right now we’re also bombarded with screens and I was like anything to get somebody off of a screen.


We decided to make this a kind of audio experience there’s a list of tracks, they all are kind of a mix of music and instruction and things like one of them is a breathing exercise one of them is about like just thinking about. That which kind of motivates you and, like taking check on your pulse right so there’s like these mix of what your physical body needs with the things that you need to do good design work.


But let’s let’s listen to this track at least first and then i’ll open it up to questions all right, first of all, you got to tell me if you can hear this let’s let’s start and we’ll see all right.


Can we hear it?


Lesley-Ann Noel


I don’t see the share sound.


Louie Montoya


I’m trying to get.


Lesley-Ann Noel


In the share window.


Louie Montoya




Lesley-Ann Noel


Click the song, yeah.


Louie Montoya


Let’s do it again here.


All right.


Okay we’ll try it again.


I don’t want it to be too loud is it?


Can you hear it?


Is it too loud?




Welcome to sound practice and experience in sound-based learning from the D schools K 12 lab at Stanford university. My name is Michael Lipson and i’ll be your host. We’re collaborating to bring you a discography of sound-based learning experiences to facilitate the practice of anti-oppressive work. If this is your first time joining us, make sure to check out the sound practice trailer for more in this album. I’ll walk you through Louie Montoya and Jessica Brown’s equity self-care toolkit.


This tool is a reflective tool to help you address how you manage your emotional and physical fortitude while doing equity work, use it for yourself or give it to others, for them to use.


We found that it’s best used before having courageous conversations about equity or when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the work itself. At the end of the day we just hope it helps you connect mind to body in your fight for a more just world see this work is emotionally and physically taxing so it’s important to consider how we take care of ourselves and what we need to be centered. While this activity focuses on you, your body and your relationship to stress it’s important to recognize that we can’t simply breathe our way through hatred and bigotry.


Disrupting such forms of harm takes a much more community oriented effort, but to be present in community first, we need to take care of ourselves. I’m going to walk you through certain parts of the body involved in our regulatory response, because when we get stressed our body responds accordingly. There are seven sections and to experience this album I recommend finding a place to lay down stretch and sit, but if you’d rather go on a walk or do this from a chair, you could try that too.


It’s an embodied exercise meaning your body is the only thing you need in order to participate. I’m going to provide you with some music, while you get set up music for this album is produced by blue dot sessions. Before you get started, we just want to say thanks for listening and engaging this album focuses on walking you through the activity, but we also have a podcast describing how each album was made in conversation with the original creators. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this experiment and we have more resources to share join us at K 12 slash sound practice and find me on Instagram and Twitter at last name Lipson to keep the conversation going. Click next on your player when you’re ready to move on to the next step.


Louie Montoya


Michael has such a great podcast with, so that was sound practice, one of the things we realized is initially, again we designed it for educators doing racial equity work everybody everyone that heard it was like I need that actually I you I don’t do that work i’m still stress and so it’s become a really interesting tool and has led to some other sound based tools that are really just meant to help you like taking the things that you need and reflect on that and have a moment for it so i’ll put the link for that in the chat You can check it out if you’re interested, and I recommend just doing it like we’ve had people.


Take some of these tracks and just throw them into a playlist so every now and again you’re like listening to music, while you’re working and you’re reminded I need to stop and breathe, or I need to get up and stretch and also think about you know these different elements of the work that i’m doing and why that’s important to me and and hat to me is all just about designing intentionally and designing things that might not also seem so obvious like an escape room as a form of standardized assessment or self care like designing ourselves as a concept, I think, is is probably very strange for people.


But I think that’s kind of what design is best suited for these these ambiguous and complex questions that there might not be an immediate technical answer to that’s the type of work that that i’ve been engaged in and that I think is just so special and so needed right now.


Alright cool so that’s it sorry we didn’t get to try it please check that link out if you’d like you know i’ll take a minute for questions I don’t know if you guys all have to hop just quite at the hour, I can stay a little bit longer it’s very early for me, so I don’t have anything else planning really after this.


Lesley-Ann Noel


Thank you, Louie.  I’m just gonna jump in and well invite people to ask questions we have like a few minutes, so please Louie here reach out. Also, the other thing is that if you want to remain connected, you can drop things like your Linkedin handles or whatever the social media handles into the chat, but please ask some questions. In my demanding teacher voice and some questions, um oh good I hit someone with a question, yes hi Louie thanks so much it’s really great to hear about your work.



Julia Lang


I’d love to hear just a little bit more about the I think island in the storm like was that mostly based on providing self care resources, you mentioned something about building, other other forms of curriculum or i’m just curious when you saw the need was that people needed kind of more advanced or more deep work around that what What did you what was the design or could you speak more to the designs that you ended up creating?


Louie Montoya


Yeah absolutely um, there was three kind of central pillars to to that curriculum one one was around the self care and both self care and like a mix of self care and identity work, one was also being able to kind of crowdsource challenges and solutions, so one of the things I realized was a lot of educators in the situation we’re having the same problems and other educators, had a lot of different approaches to them or had already looked at them or already thought about them, and so they just needed an opportunity to connect with other folks who were in the same space and then the other one was around kind of designing a path forward so being oftentimes, especially when you’re doing equity work it tends to feel very reactive like something horrible happens at the school and you’re like, we can’t, you know, ,this can’t happen, and then you go and you’re like an emergency mode and I felt like a lot of my educators were constantly there they’re just putting out fires, all the time and never had any moment to think in the long terms about like what is it I’m doing, how is the things that I’m doing building towards the equitable future that I want to see at my school.


And then just giving them a kind of apparatus to like design that and sometimes it looked like a, you know just a little worksheet where people were saying all right, you know, here’s what I want to do in the course of the year here’s how I’m going to take care of myself here’s how I’m going to connect with other people, and all of that is of course connected through getting people comfortable with with being able to share those things to build coalition.


Lesley-Ann Noel


Louie I just put a question in the chat: Where can we find the worksheets? and and I really enjoy seeing them now, because I remember when you will you were working on this, I think, when I was when we used to work together so it’s nice to see this finished product right.


Louie Montoya


Yeah um, so a lot of a lot of i’m turning in a lot of the resources from the class just because I don’t want all my classes to just be only accessible by Stanford students and a very exclusive group of students who are amazing but you know, like come on it’s a small percentage of the world into like kind of standalone digital tools some of that can be a little complex because how to say you need like really good lead in like a lot of this type of work can be really harmful like I could see somebody trying to do a self care session with students, who had who they had never talked about before about any of this stuff and it feeling really off like invasive almost.


So take that with a grain of salt i’m dead just is to say that i’m going slowly on the development these tools, but you can find all of them on the D school website under resources we don’t have like a great landing page for just all of my equity resources and tools, but you can find a lot of them on the K 12 lab website, which I will let me, let me throw that in the chat as well.


Lesley-Ann Noel


And I guess Malu can ask the question she had a hand raised.


Louie Montoya


Yeah absolutely.


Malu Landaberea


Yeah, no, I was going to ask because I really liked to predict, you did about measuring, you know through like prototypes of escape rooms, or like similar prototypes but I understood that’s also in them in the webpage, you mentioned?


Louie Montoya


Oh yes.


Malu Landaberea


I can more information there, yes, I think that’s something that will be interesting to start applying also.



Louie Montoya


Yeah great for that one I mean obviously you’re not gonna be able to make an escape room, but you can still create virtual like puzzles and experiences for students to collaborate and I do have all of those tools on a page so that’s all connected and there’s like a little instructional video there’s a toolkit on how to make an escape room like start with that toolkit it has everything in it it’s like how I made puzzles but then also like how I thought, about, measuring and things like that. And then, lastly there’s some pdfs oops don’t go to this one sorry this this one, if you go here click on the right, where it says resources, how to design an escape room i’ll give you both links.


But this is, this is the one that’s probably more pertinent to what you’re asking for it has the resources, so you can just use, their like in PDF form but then, if you’re trying to contextualize how to use them, the toolkit will will show you how, at least I use them and you’re welcome to like remix and flip it in any way that works for you and then, if you have any other questions like i’m always down to nerd out about measuring students collaboration, so you should definitely just email if that’s something that you’re interested in, I will be happy to help you.


Lesley-Ann Noel




Niesha Ford


All right, well if there’s no other questions Thank you so so much Louie I was like taking down all of these links, so that we can post them to get on the website, but yeah Thank you so so much for coming on you know, this was really great, and thank you all in the audience for coming as well, I hope everyone has a great rest of your day.


Louie Montoya


All right, thank you, thank you for inviting me thanks for coming, please take care of yourself. Do some good self, care whatever helps.


Unknown Speaker


Thank you.

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