Mountain Park is a high achieving school with tremendous community support and an incredibly devoted staff. Most of our students have numerous advantages with varied, rich, life experiences. Therefore, they come to school eager to learn. Our high achievement earned us the 2013 National Blue Ribbon Award. Our motto is simply stated: "Learn to Think, Think to Learn."
What was your original HMW (How Might We) question coming out of the January 14th Design Workshop?
HOW MIGHT WE…Utilize our time to create more opportunities for students to engage in real world problem solving?
Tell us about your team's experience with the Empathy phase and the biggest surprises and unexpected insights you found.
The empathy interviews started out with fairly predictable and similar responses from both students and teachers. However, as we dug deeper, we realized that the focus needed to be on the teachers to reveal more insight - and thus gain more empathy. What started out as a project to design a complex schedule, evolved into navigating "change management" through designing a plan to reduce staff angst and build confidence about pending instructional change.
Tell us about your team's experience with the Design Summit. What stands out most? What will you take with you?
The evolution of my design team is what stands out most...it was incredibly hard work to synthesize the empathy data AND achieve consensus. What I will take with me is that the deep understanding achieved through empathy interviews needs to be a guiding practice, particularly when facing change.
What POV (Point of View) statement did you settle on at the Design Summit (at least for now)?
We met…several hardworking Mountain Park teachers who hold themselves to extremely high standards.
We were amazed to realize…how much they feel like their day-to-day schedules and tasks prevent them from making the most of the time they have with their students and colleagues.
It would be game changing if ...
staffers had clarity, confidence, and ownership to implement school-wide enrichment to help students become real-world problem solvers.
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 prototyped an intimate lunch meeting during which the concerns about change shared by staff were addressed through a master schedule, benefits for staff statements, and an FAQ sheet about EB (enrichment block). In testing with users we learned that the intimate setting and tangible take-aways were highly valued.
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 have begun rolling out the prototype. We have invited grade level teams to lunch and learns where the tangible items have been shared, explained, and questions have been answered. We are continuing the empathy conversations as we work on refining our EB roll-out while meeting the needs of out staff. We are collaborating with one of the schools we connected with through the Design Challenge to observe and learn about their implementation of project based instruction to help inform some of our decision-making as we move forward with our challenge.
What other reflections on the process to date and the collaboration with other schools would you like to share?
The collaboration was amazing. Gaining feedback from potential users and learning from the challenges and insights of others has proven to be very helpful to my team as we refine and reflect about our project.