78. The Power of Backwards Design, with Darciann Baker

(The special oli, the Hawaiian chant that blesses this episode was written and performed by Kalei ‘A’arona Lorenzo, my guest’s high school classmate and basketball teammate. My guest and Kalei have been friends and fellow educators for decades. Mahalo, Kalei for this beautiful beginning to a wonderful episode.) Speaking of a thousand points of light, my guest today is Darciann Baker, a very special educator at the Kamehameha School’s Hawaiʻi Island campus in Keaʻau. Kamehameha Schools is a private school system in Hawaiʻi established under the terms of the will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. The Kamehameha Schools consists of three campuses and 30 pre-schools educating over 7000 young people of Hawaiian ancestry on Maui, Oʻahu and Hawaiʻi island. Darciann is a native Hawaiian woman, born and raised in Hawaiʻi. Her entire career has been dedicated to the perpetuation of the Hawaiian language.  It is an endeavor she has held close to her heart ever since she found her Hawaiian identity when she was 15 years old. For the past 30 years, she has taught Hawaiian language at different levels and in different contexts from preschool through the university level, at adult night school, and even in the prison system. Recently, Darciann, known as Kumu Leinani, stepped out of the classroom to become her campus’ K-12 Hawaiian language, ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i coach.  Her two main responsibilities in this current position are to help to transform the Hawaiian language program to best prepare students to be successful on their Hawaiian language proficiency graduation requirement. This includes rewriting the Kamehameha Schools, Hawaii Island campus K-12 curriculum, coaching teachers through new research-based strategies, and modeling innovative teaching and co-teaching with proficiency as the focus. Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike, “in doing is learning” is a phrase at the core of her pedagogy. Darciann has a MA with Specialization in Teacher Leadership from Walden University, and a BA in Hawaiian Studies from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. My editor and creative consultant is Evan Kurohara. Our theme music is provided by my friend of 40 years, Michael Sloan. You can find his music, 12 albums and over 100 songs in Spotify, Apple Music and all the other major music platforms. Please stay safe and healthy, listeners, and please get vaccinated. A hui hou, take care and Happy New Year!


  1. ʻŌiwi Edge
  2. Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi Island
  3. Proficiency Pedagogy
  4. Ditch That Textbook
Podcast Theme Music by Michael Sloan
Editing by Evan Kurohara