Our vision statement is:
Westminster belongs to a changing world, and we contribute to these changes. We yearn for learning to
be relevant to our lives, and we are guided by these essential questions:
How is the world changing?
How does this shape our learning?
How do people learn best?
We begin knowing we must model and promote lifelong learning in a global community. We commit
to use technology and research to help us learn these essential skills. To this end, our learners—adults and children—will:
Communicate and collaborate
Problem find and problem solve
Create and innovate
Reflect and revise
Serve and lead
We also have a longtime reputation as a school of excellence where students perform well on AP exams and SAT's, and matriculate to ivy league colleges.
What was your original HMW (How Might We) question coming out of the January 14th Design Workshop?
How might we create a hub of innovation in the Middle School in order to nurture creative confidence (empowering teachers and students to take risks, to learn from failure, to feel empowered, and to know that their voice can have an impact)?
(We continued to edit and streamline our original statement as we went along so this is not it's absolute original form.)
Tell us about your team's experience with the Empathy phase and the biggest surprises and unexpected insights you found.
We were surprised to see and hear how much tension there is between our school’s vision statement and the need to cover the content that has traditionally prepared our students to score well on AP’s and SAT’s in high school.
We were surprised to discover that our MS teachers yearn for a pedagogical sense of community, and that some of our newer teachers feel frustrated by roadblocks to innovative teaching.
We were surprised to hear students describe the grind of “real” learning and their inability to imagine that it could be changed. We were surprised to hear them say the “side” learning is what they “reminisce” or “remember”, and look forward to; but the “real” learning is what is important.
Tell us about your team's experience with the Design Summit. What stands out most? What will you take with you?
We were impressed by Scott's passion, energy and commitment to nurturing innovators.
Everyone on my team said they were using Design Thinking in other areas of their teaching responsibilities.
We were struck by how hard this kind of work is and that solutions are often forged out of challenging dialogue.
The empathy phase was very powerful and taught us to really take the time to stop and listen.
What POV (Point of View) statement did you settle on at the Design Summit (at least for now)?
Today we met: a frustrated MS teacher who is motivated to take risks and innovate his/her teaching.
We were amazed to realize: that despite our vision statement this teacher doesn’t feel supported in actualizing innovative teaching strategies.
It would be game changing if: we could develop a support system to empower and support a community of teacher innovators.
Tell us about the prototype you built at the Design Summit. What was it? How did it address your POV? In the testing you did with users, what did you learn?
We debated whether an innovation lab or using our hallways as spaces to make learning visible would best support, affirm and promote innovative teachers. We decided to build our prototype around "making learning visible" in our hallways. We got mixed response to our original prototype. The positive response was based on the conversations that occurred around looking at the documentation of student learning. We decided based on the feedback that we needed to add a "connector" or innovation coach to support teachers in this effort to MLV.
Tell us about what you're going to do next to continue iterating. What's your action plan? What are you doing on Empathy? What are you doing on Define/POV? What are you planning to do on your prototype?
We continued to refine our POV and give it a slightly more positive slant. We returned to our ongoing dialogue and decided to prototype and test three aspects of a possible approach to empowering an innovative teaching community.We prepared a three part prototype:
1. innovation coach job description
2. using MS main atrium as a space to MLV
3. innovation lab with a focus on being a space for collaboration, professional development and the initial focus on green screen technology where all disciplines could harness storytelling as a tool for learning ( this storytelling focus came from our empathy interviews with students)
We are interviewing an apple innovator coach to find out some of the obstacles to success he has experienced in his work with schools.
Our action plan:
Build 3 part prototype (3/31/14)
Test it with MS principal for feed back (4/1/14)
Refine prototype 4/8/14
Present to Admin. Team in April
Test prototype with MS teachers in early May
Two of our team members needed to drop out b/c of time commitment/we plan to add one more MS faculty member to our team
Send 2 MS faculty members to Design Thinking at Mt. Vernon summer institute this summer
What other reflections on the process to date and the collaboration with other schools would you like to share?
I think my whole team loved the storytelling exercise. You learn a lot as you edit your story down to its essential elements.
It was an incredible experience to work across schools in a collaborative, rather than a competitive way.