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whats the problem of


One afternoon as Dr. Williams was performing yard duty, she witnessed one of her students in conflict after another student tried to pull off her hijab. “When I talked to her, she disclosed that there was some anti-muslim sentiment growing across the school, and that this was not a new or singular incident.” 

Dr. Williams would take a moment to organize her next steps. The first of which, almost never changed. As a part of her practice, she always approaches new challenges with the frame: “How can we solve this problem with, and not for?” 

Over the course of the following days, Dr. Williams would pull in various Muslim voices from the Montera community, including staff like Ms. Naki’a and the students who had been directly involved in the harm. “What do you think the best solutions would be?” she would ask. From this working group of students and staff, Montera then introduced a series of panels featuring their muslim community addressing pre-submitted questions to educate the campus around their particular experiences. Montera would see a significant decline of bullying and harassment as a result. These “Toro Talks” would continue as an ongoing engagement, opening new doors for conversation and strengthening a culture of trust across students and staff alike.





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personal leadership:key questions and realizations

“I’m continually reminded that these moments with kids are so impactful. You never know, but this could have been a marking point in the trajectory of their life. Making sure that [they] understand that they are heard and that they receive evidence throughout their experience that ‘I could speak up and someone’s gonna listen.’

This is a great responsibility. 

Finally, how can we use these opportunities for relationship building between students, adults, and the community at large?”

What are the current systems, structures, processes related to this challenge? How are they working in concert? Where are the gaps and needs?

What are the technical needs?

What are the quality of the relationships between the stakeholders nearest this challenge? How do they identify in relationship to the challenge? What are the values, beliefs and mindsets of those involved? 

What are the relational/adaptive needs?

How is the information flowing? Is there two way communication? Is there space to make meaning collectively? 

What's up with information?

What is the equity imperative connected to this challenge? What is creating inequity in relationship to this challenge?

How about equity?

What are the root causes of this complex challenge?

Based on what's happening above and below the green line...

for leaders considering complex challenges



Pervasive anti-muslim sentiment. Not knowing what else was under the surface.


An established and practiced listening-stance and asset lens. A rich and diverse community at Montera to work alongside. A culture of trust and willingness to be part of a solution. 


Connecting and bringing in staff. Because of the strength of their community, people closest to the pain could be closest to the solution. Combating ignorance with education - opportunity for community to teach others about their culture. 


The risk lies in -- “who do we miss by NOT doing this? That's the larger risk.”


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