Seventeen teachers from three divisions at Little Red School House and Elizabeth Irwin High School (LREI ) gathered to explore Connections—the theme of this summer's Innovation Institute. Before beginning, we asked teachers to tell us what they were curious about, what they hoped to learn, and what they wanted to discover during the workshop. Our mission for the week is to engage participants both at a personal and a professional level. They told us:
I hope to learn to be bolder about advocating for change.
I am curious about more play in the classroom.
I want to discover a fresh perspective.
I want to broaden the way I think about learning.
The goal for this week-long design thinking effort is to end the week with 4 fully fleshed out amazing projects ready for launch in the fall. LREI faculty will explore issues relevant to their community, fellow teachers, and students. Working with our partners at PlayLab we designed the workshop to introduce teachers to the design thinking process. We'll share with them over the 4 days methods for creating lots of ideas, demonstrate how to hone the ideas down to seeds and then blow their ideas back out—in as many rounds as possible in our time together. Whew!
We foresee a lot of creative thinking with brains ticking. We'll get teachers out in the world to test their ideas. We expect them to be brave enough to fail—isn't that when we all learn the most? And we'll push them to keep polishing and honing. Each round will have our teachers polishing and uncovering insights along the way, leading up to a final pitch in front of fellow teachers, administrators and community guests.
Why are we doing this?
After our opening exercise one participant asked: "Why are we doing this?" A perfectly reasonable response given how unfamiliar the process was to our participants, who by the way are used to leading learners. It was a telling moment and a reminder that what was being asked of them in the moment is what they often ask of their students—do something that you don't know how to do or anything about!
We are off to a great start and we can't wait to see what our teachers come up with!