Six months? Where did you go?
by Jen Buchanan, Program Director (Engagement)
This month marks a personal milestone on my journey with Future Anything!
It has been an incredible six months since joining the team. We are a small yet mighty organisation – and what a privilege it is to work with a group of educators driven by a shared passion to build a generation of young people that are “marked by an independent energetic spirit and a readiness to act”.
Reflecting on the first half of this year, it’s been an inspiring journey filled with growth and unforgettable moments.
From the very beginning, I hit the ground running, quite literally at times as I hurried through bustling airports to catch my flights. In particular, the past four months have been an incredible adventure, traversing across six states to deliver our Future Anything student workshops and teacher professional development opportunities.
One of the highlights of this for me has undoubtedly been the opportunity to facilitate our student workshops. From the northern beaches of Cairns in Queensland to the wintery landscapes of Ulverstone in Tasmania, this year I’ve had the privilege working with over 1800 students, in seventeen different workshops, across six States.
Here are three key learning experiences that have profoundly impacted me during this first part of my journey with Future Anything.
Working with a range of young people
During my time delivering student workshops, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with a wide range of students from diverse backgrounds and varied abilities. One story that stands out is from my recent visit to Woodville High School in South Australia.
A young girl, who had previously attended one of my workshops, came and found me at lunchtime to proudly share that she had continued with her business idea and was now selling products with her mum at a NAIDOC week celebration. I love this!
It is these types of experiences fuel my commitment to continue making a difference and reinforce the transformative power of education. The world doesn’t need every young person to be an entrepreneur. However, we do need our young people (and their educators) to have an enterprising approach to learning and life. Moving forward with Future Anything, I am more motivated to use the student feedback we collate at the end of each session to continue to refine our workshops, ensuring we are creating meaningful experiences, and empowering students to embrace their potential.
After each workshop, we ask young people, ‘what’s one thing you’ve learned rom today that you’ll be able to use in future?’.
Here are some of my favourite responses:
- “That even if your idea is crazy, it can still be a good idea!”
- “I learnt how to be resilient and never to give up.”
- “I will be able to use teamwork in the future because I am not good with teams but now after the program I am getting better with working with others.”
- “I learnt to be more confident when I’m doing a pitch”
- “The “go big, go wild and go together” thinking strategies”
Collaborating with School Leadership Teams
Working closely with school leadership teams has been an invaluable experience, allowing me to deepen my understanding of the complexities of educational leadership and the challenges faced by schools.
I had the pleasure of embarking on a recent trip to Ulverstone in Tasmania to lead our one-day “Enterprising Classrooms” Professional Development program with the team at Leighland Christian School. Not only was it an excellent opportunity to share knowledge and insights, but it also allowed me to reconnect with friends, making the experience all the more enjoyable!
Leading a six-month change-management plan with a leadership team at Manea Senior College in WA has been another particular highlight in this first half of the year.
With a mission to put the school on the map as a future-focused school of choice, each member of the team embarked on their own Action Research Program, delving deep into cutting-edge strategies, design thinking processes, and approaches. They tirelessly explored, researched, and collaborated, leading to incredible breakthroughs! The culmination of their hard work was an inspiring final session, where everyone on the team had the opportunity to pitch their ideas.
It has been a truly inspiring journey for me, and I think the teachers felt the same:
- “I loved the endless resources that were provided throughout the program. It’s crucial for educators to explore diverse ideas, perspectives, and teaching strategies. We’re ready to challenge the status quo.”
- “This experience truly embraced the design thinking process. We learned the power of empathy, understanding the needs and perspectives of others. It’s not about imposing solutions, but about collaborating for meaningful change.”
- “The program provided us with the encouragement and motivation to make a real impact. We’re empowered to bring about positive change in our school and community.”
Embracing the Power of Innovation
Future Anything has instilled in me a deep appreciation for innovation and outside-the-box thinking.
Witnessing the impact of hands-on activities, collaborative projects, and nurturing an entrepreneurial mindset has been motivating. I love when our team comes together for an “ideation” session – an opportunity to unleash our imagination, to think outside the box, and explore innovative ways to address real-world challenges.
This experience has reinforced my belief in the transformative power of educational innovation and the importance of empowering students (and educators) with the skills needed to thrive in an ever-changing world.
Looking back on the past six months, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to Future Anything’s mission to transform young people’s passion and curiosity into innovative ideas that make their world a better place.
As I continue this journey, I’m excited to play my part in shaping the future of education, one student, one school, and one enterprise skill at a time. I am deeply grateful for the incredible team at Future Anything and the shared dedication to making a positive impact in education.
Together, we can create meaningful change and empower the next generation to bend the future, one youth-led idea at a time.
About the author: Jen Buchanan
Jen is a future focused educator who has forged a career as an educator in progressive schools in Australia and around the world. With a track record of creating positive, engaged and innovative learning environments in schools and adult learners, Jen is Program Director (Engagement) at Future Anything, where she leads and delivers a range of engaging, inspiring workshops and learning experiences for educators and students.
Jen is accomplished keynote speaker and presenter, and has a practical understanding of how to develop messages, create connection and energy with audiences and focus on learning outcomes.
Connect with Jen on LinkedIn here.