Coaching STEAM- the art of wellbeing

STEAM- as New ways of learning, allowing learning relations to be visible; different levels of emotions will be possible dwelling (pondering), enchantment, and caring.

“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. Cleverness is mere opinion, bewilderment is intuition.”


Art in STEAM is very important, art invites the many different possible ways in which to approach and then reflect with curiosity on how learning happens; “as change could happen through the almost invisible work of developing the capacity to hold/contain as many people to see things in different ways”(1).

Art in STEAM speaks for freedom, and well-being is the freedom of teachers and students to act from what is meaningful learning for them in the classroom, in the context of the current context. It is the way students learn to create meaning, to be knowledge creators, and the more they have the space to practice readiness for meaning-making, or what we call in 21st-century skills multiliteracy, the more they will be willing to stretch and develop critical thinking and scientific thinking. 

In the impressive little square market of Reggio Emilia city, I cannot not think of the amazing pedagogy of Reggio Emilia, as Prototyping is such an important part of Coaching STEAM and the child opportunity to notice what is that they are working and learning.

Coaching STEAM, is about possible fresh new perspectives, holding space to stay with these new fresh ideas, which actually is the practice of resilience, and facilitating the process of Integration, a practice for collective intelligence (weQ), tolerating confusion/dwelling, cultivating curiosity and care. 

Here is a possible roadmap for Coaching Steam as we observe it in working with teachers and their cultural-social contexts. My last source of inspiration and observation was working with the amazing teachers from schools and high schools in Carpi, Italy, This so-called roadmap is really an Opened invitation to stay with the process instead of being some kind of collection of practices or tools. 

Image of the one learning

As we proceed with STEAM, and 21st-century education the effort and the true process is for the student ( and teacher) to reflect and update who am I with what we learn today. The image of the one learning starts at an early age with an open invitation to reflect on individual and collective learning objectives with the intention of visioning where one wants to get and on what strengths one builds. Here is a vision of that:

Child’s right to clarify their point of view and to respect them (Convention of Children Rights)===reflective interaction with the child, where the interaction is horizontal – in which you are on the same level as the child and there is a true interest in the child’s thoughts. Using diverse tools and methods of assessment, including quality of the class interaction, to be mirrored in assessment- evaluation of cognitive, activity organization, and instructional support. The perspective of developing an evaluation culture: practicing everyday feedback and reflective/peer/coach/teacher evaluation as a daily learning routine, not something outside of the learning process “ multifaceted phenomenon and can be approached from many different perspectives”, develop students’ ability to look at matters from multiple perspective part of CRITICAL Thinking;  assessment as responsive not reactive: principles of the support response model. effectiveness of learning support in order to tailor and target the support, but also to make progress visible to the learner.” 

Yet STEAM and 21st-century skills-based new curricula might happen when one is in high school and there is no prior effort or context to build the image of the one learning. What then? What we practiced are tools that would support reflection, like generative scribing. Reflective learning opportunities are ways to strengthen inner development. With such practice, both teachers and students have this strong sense and idea to follow that is precious for innovation and creativity: “it is not about the results, it is about keeping the process steady, following the process and noticing”. Such practices invites also the creative “part of our brain” we call this brainstorming. And with brainstorming that is only one rule, everyone contributes in some way and there is no wrong, it is an open space of thought creation. When we brainstorm we are sensitive and vulnerable and so we protect that with agreements of practicing awareness on how we listen and invite/accept everyone. Critical assessment is a very different process “lights up a different part of our brain” so we would keep these processes separate, which is essential for the teacher as a facilitator (Lonka, 2019). 

Engaged pedagogies

“Excuse me Andreea, yet I believe our students transgress enough…” was the opened curiosity of the amazing teacher from the group in Italy we were working with. And I said yes “ yet I am referring to you, the teachers…”. Here is the definition with which I work in Coaching Steam from the amazing bell hooks, and her immense creative educational work.” They (teachers) commit to a process of self-actualization that promotes their own well-being if they are to teach in a manner that promotes students’ empowerment the practice should be directed to oneself first because if they are unhappy they cannot help many people” ( bell hooks Teaching to transgress). Teachers transgressing is proof of innovation and change, and any 21st-century principal would encourage a place of engaged pedagogies and teachers’ transgressing, by this we mean from bell hooks’ educational work, teaching and learning as an act of freedom, and responsibility, rather than one confined between texts and tests and what is called Rote education. Engaged pedagogies is the practice for teachers and principals in asking themselves “is our work future-proofed?” For students’ process it is practicing anticipatory skills “enabling mechanism that allows us to not only connect the dots, but also to see ourselves, and the significance of our work, from the whole.” (Scharmer. MIT, 2017) 

With Rote education there is only one way in which we follow the “learning”, the student and teachers are both consumers of knowledge. With Clinical Education for same knowldge, there are many different ways and path to understanding, we create different learning paths, the more we have space to reflect on this different ways the more stimulus, creating capacities for long term memory and easy retrieving (Lonka,2019 & O’Sullivan 2021); drawing from student artist Tea

Clinical education of teachers

With Coaching STEAM we bring into the class, in the school for teachers’ continuous training, the practice of clinical case (inspired from Otto Scharmer MIT,2017 Theory U work). We collectively create a space to deep learning, especially from mistakes, and failures. Such instruments like clinical cases, strengthen well-being and accelerates learning. It increases the space between stimulus and response, the capacity to break/to pause, and then: 1. Focus; 2. Rest attention 3. Integrate/update.  


When the world is noisy, inspiration is often only a whisper”(Hubl, 2020) we get better at reading signs, or what we call co-creating with the world, practicing flexibility and adaptation (resilience). We practice prototyping with Coaching STEAM, with different tools, a 0.8 idea that we put out there and we test it. For teachers, the invitation is to ask themselves “what is a very small action that I can take now that will get me feedback from reality as soon as possible?”. The prototyping in STEAM is integrating the Mind – collecting data, thinking process with the Heart- the everyday insights and wisdom, with the Will- teaching with attitudes, the willingness to act from what you learn. And that is bridging the class with the real world and the community out there. To prototype teachers and students practice empathy and generative levels of listening(2). We listen from a place of curiosity, beyond checking or debating, or convincing. Listening from a place of empathy and curiosity as everyday practice in schools increases levels of well-being. 

process from Coaching Steam teachers program March 2023, Carpi, Italy

Better futures, stronger imagination

As we were working with the Italian teachers around prototyping in the context of wicked problems, the amazing math teacher says “there is a lot of kindness in this process”, and she was spot on. As we teach and learn in this process, we act, and come from a place of potentiality, the field of imagination. And potentiality is full of kindness. Kindness is the sense feeling, that comes with this higher possible future thinking. In Coaching STEAM as we move with students around what we call wicked problems(3), ill-defined, illogical, and entangled, and leaning on the unsustainable situations or problems instead of jumping to some kind of solving mindset is key to creativity. And this is collective intelligence work ( weQ) practice.

“You obviously will not know what you are doing, that is the basis of creativity”

Arawana Hayashi

We teach students, and this is first-hand knowledge which means teachers have to experience for themselves, to stay with the not knowing, instead of jumping with a quick solution-fixing mindset, allowing the mind to ponder and imagine.

Starts with a moment of noticing how we come together and sit in the classroom space

Case study – Social Presencing Theater for emerging future

With an explorative practice called SPT, sculpture no 1 “the current reality” we noticed patterns in unsustainable conditions some kind of lack of access to seeing (maybe some kind of unseeing and understanding the present context, getting all our data before acting), or contradictionary forces from different sides, that makes us unable to feel progress, move forward, or inability to align opportunities with current conditions somehow, simply put we observe the unsustainable and practice emerging thinking.  The sustainable solutions come from us bringing awarness to the process. In the practice of possible future or what is called sculpture no 2, we notice this pattern of Opening, loosening the control as a natural reaction to fears, to the unknown, and starting from that from this co-creating, what above we called prototyping: what is one very little action I can do next to get me as quick as possible feedback on what next.  Practicing firsthand for teachers process and then for students’ anticipatory future skills, will strengthen the imagination, “ and the stronger the imagination, less imaginary the results”. Of course, this practice is embodiment learning, so one needs some first hand experiencing. For students we can use this as “drama in the class” skills, expanding skills of receiptivness and willingness to make meaning in different many ways. ability to multiliterate as well.

In this scribing in the left side we have current situation or what we called sculpture no 1 a current situation, some form of a unsustainable situation, a challenge of some sort and in the right side the sculpture no 2, emerging future; it is not that left is bad and right is positive 🙂 it is the process of leaning into that is the emerging future mindset practice, scribing by artist student Tea.


1 Carol Sanford,

2. On levels of listening,

3. Wicked problems as they are called in education have different acronims to speak for the complex world of today, and hence impact the way we approach Sciences and STEAM, here are some of these models

3. On Social Presencing Theater in Schools and what is Social Presencing Theater and how it is applied in education in Arawana Hayashi, MIT U School faculty member and artist that developed this practice in her bok “Social Presencing Theater”.

4. On Rote Education and Clinical Education in Phenomenon Learning from Finland Lonka 2019, and on brain as cultural organ and only a very small

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