Jami recognized that changing how her teachers taught would require a tremendous amount of courage. They would need to experience the reason to change.
For years teachers have been continually buffeted by new models of education. With each new model, they were told by their administrators to change how they were teaching. There was a new way, a better way, to teach. And then that model would be discarded, replaced by another model. They would be told once again to teach in a different way.
After teachers have gone through several cycles of these mandated methodologies, many become cynical. They also feel increasingly powerless, feeling that their own experience and expertise is not being valued by their leaders.
Jami understood that she was not introducing a new teaching model, but a new way of experiencing learning – one that mirrored the culture of innovative companies.
That spring, she invited her teachers to a two-day workshop on Design Thinking. This was a voluntary workshop, but one that she hoped they would attend. Most of her teachers agreed to come.
While the elements of design thinking have been around for a while, it was IDEO, a product design firm, that had defined and promoted this multipart process. This process included discovery, ideation, prototyping, and testing in an ongoing, iterative cycle of product development.
This concept of design thinking was embraced by Stanford’s design school, the d.school, who then began to bring this thinking into elementary and secondary education through its K12 Lab.
The workshop leaders had been trained by Stanford. This training introduced a fundamental shift in the mindset of teaching. Teachers are taught to design and implement curriculum - a fixed path of teaching that extends through the length of an entire term. Much like a production line.
Design thinking uses iterative Learning Cycles that continually morph, based on what is learned. They are highly adaptable, requiring a new agility for both the teachers and the students.
Each class or each unit becomes, in a sense, an experiment. But, in this process of experimentation, learning rates accelerate.
The workshop was remarkably successful, opening the door to a new way of learning. Jami knew, however, that there would only be a few teachers who had the courage to fully implement what they had learned.
But she also hoped that other teachers might begin to experiment, particularly if they knew that they would not be shamed by failure.
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