The two-day summit, led by Scott Sanchez and supported by his coaches, our global mentors (Laura, Bo, Shelley, and Anona) and my fearless co-director, Bob Ryshke, was an intense, exhausting yet exhilarating experience. We started off on Saturday with all 85+ of us sharing "how we were feeling" (we have some folks with extraordinary humor!) and what we as teams were "amazed to realize"--our big surprises--during the past 8 weeks. Often we heard that the power of the empathy phase to uncover unrealized needs and user groups. Who knew that a parent's "fear of failure" and a focus on specific outcomes (grades) was limiting student explorations and risk-taking thereby inhibiting curiosity?
We gave teams a large chunk of time, heavily supported by the mentors and coaches, to narrow to one user and refine their POV statements. Key questions: Who/what is most important to us? Where might there be a POV that is a good starting point? What is our team excited about?
Teams were then prepped on how to ideate (generate ideas that might solve the HMW question modified if needed by the POV), and given a half hour to brainstorm. A critical part of this process is honoring each idea, (no matter how outlandish) and dismissing any thoughts about feasibility. As teams worked, it was fascinating to watch so many try to stay in the comfort zone of what they knew was possible (logical problem-solving) as opposed to stepping beyond (why wouldn't we consider teacher sabbaticals?).
After a cross-team lunch break, and using a color-coded and scaled voting system (safe bet to long shot), individuals on each team voted on the ideas they most wanted to move forward. Within a short period of time, ideas were narrowed to 1 or 2. Scott provided an overview on prototyping, along with a few exercises, and teams were off to develop and then test their initial prototypes with the other teams for the rest of the afternoon.
What the planning and mentoring team was amazed to realize at this end of Day 1 was how tired we all were and how tired the teams were. The pace of the day was intense, and people left really excited, but the teams were all in different places. Some teams were very clear on their POV and their initial prototype/feedback cycle gave them a lot to work with. Other teams were less clear on their POV, received some valuable feedback, and would need to iterate their POV and/or their prototype and to gain more feedback the next day. So, we adjusted...
Day 2 came with larger blocks of time for the teams to dig deep on their POVS and prototypes. Mid-morning we brought everyone back together (in cross school groups) to workshop storytelling in preparation for the afternoon presentations and demos. A highlight of the storytelling time together was "storytelling in the round"--a bit of improv and yes-and's as public and private school educators at each table built on the story feed from one another.
The presentations and demos (skits for the most part) were as unique as the individuals, schools, and the defined needs and solutions. We were amazed to see the variety, the palpable sense of accomplishment, and the rich sense of a great year ahead of us as we continue to collaborate and encourage one another.
Each school team is being asked this week to respond to a series of questions about their experience to date, including what they are working on and where they are going next. We will share each of those responses, one by one, here on the blog. It is hoped that this will not only help our school teams help one another (they also have a private Google + community and some face to face visits in planning for the fall), but give the broader community an opportunity to ask questions, offer suggestions, cheer them on.
Finally, we are deeply grateful to our sponsor and friend, Blake Williams at Proper Medium, for his team's presence at our summit. Forthcoming will be a PR piece, a slightly longer documentary, and a full archive of footage from the afternoon presentations.
Again, we thank our sponsors and potential new funders who showed up to support all the schools: The R. Howard Dobbs, Jr. Foundation, Westminster Schools, The Lovett School, and the Zeist Foundation.