OBSERVE: What pleasant surprises did I discover this week?
This week, I was invited to serve on a panel of visitors to hear and evaluate some serious design work for a school’s learning-and-play space called The Frontier. The designers, fourth graders at MVPS, have been engaged in a design challenge connected to observations and collaborative interviewing they’ve been doing with Preschool partners. Among four classes, they created six design solutions, and they presented to the panel for feedback and evaluation. The most pleasant surprise – the format of the panel and some insider information from the students and the teachers point to the enormous desire they have to implement a solution and make a significant impact. Their determination to see a prototype through to implementation is even higher than I’ve seen it before with other challenges. I am thrilled that these learners have such a strong sense of agency, desire to change the world for the better, and the will to persevere through the complexities of real-world projects.
REFLECT: What lessons did my work teach me that I could build upon next week?
Being present for support and collaboration on classroom challenges – like that described above – makes my work more fun and rewarding. What’s more, my immediate MVIFI team reached out to the Fourth Grade Team to ask if they would document the project for the archives on mvifi.org/designthinking. That simple ask is the least an innovation team can do to encourage, promote, and amplify the incredible efforts of the instructional designers – the Fourth Grade Team – and the solution designers – the student learners. Then, the work has an even greater chance of being seen and influencing others’ work. #IdeasWorthSpreading
FOCUS: Are my short-term efforts and long-term goals sill aligned?
Long-term goals are connected to amplifying the thought and action leadership of the MVPS faculty, staff, and students. The short-term efforts to be with the panel, to meet with the Fourth Grade Team the week before, to reach out for their archivable story…those efforts are very well aligned and important. I wonder why the Fourth Grade Team thought to reach out to me a few weeks ago – I mean, specifically why. How might I make certain that I am seen as a willing and excited collaborator and amplifier?
BE PRODUCTIVE: What could I have spent more or less time doing?
I love my office mates and the serendipitous collaboration and creative sparks that happen with them. I would not trade that. At the same time, we all have aggressive To-Do lists that often require more secluded work. How might we balance these dually important work modes and make sure that we are in-phase and out-of-phase with each other’s frequencies at the best moments?
HAVE COURAGE: How did fear and uncertainly affect what I did and didn’t do?
In an early-week meeting with a number of education leaders, I sensed that there is significant tension over the perceptions of “what’s on our individual and collective plates.” I totally understand such tension – one to be managed probably, rather than resolved. I think I still “fear” (not sure that is the exact right word) that this group of education leaders possesses yet the best level of shared understanding of whole-part-whole collaboration needed to move forward the “right” set of objectives to advance the big-picture ideas in the most coordinated ways possible.
CLENSE: What mental clutter can I clear?
I experienced a setback this week regarding the way an educator graded a paper/presentation such that the student scored the maximum point value for the desired learning outcomes and mindset demonstrations, but turned in the work late and had 15 points deducted from the single-score, reported grade. I am puzzled why more schools have not worked faster (is that the right word?) to disaggregate the numerous assessment gauges that are inappropriately lumped together into a single number and a one-chance-to-show-proficiency. That’s partly why I tweeted these two tweets recently:
Should I just let this emotional and mental clutter go? In talking to a parent, they expressed that they think such penalties are completely and totally fair. So, perhaps I just need to get over it. #ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmmm
BEGIN ANEW: What is the first logical step for next week?
Start crafting my own prototype of a week-long PBL lesson connected to observation journaling, recording and archiving observations, pooling such observations together with a team, and operationalizing the ways in which collected, curated observations can become fodder for PBL engagements. Also, continue to explore how we might better know about and collect the incredible PBL/DT work of the faculty and those “tribe members” at other schools.
NOTE: I am venturing into an experiment. I plan to use these 7 Questions to End Your Week as a discipline of regular reflection. I feel very strongly about reflective practice. As John Dewey has taught me, learning is not simply experience, but reflecting on experience. Additionally, I think we neglect a fundamentally important opportunity when we choose to assign “homework” as a school but fail to prompt reflections like these seven questions as a building habit in young (and old) learners. What if a menu of prompts like these, and others, became more integrated into the home learning that we expect from our students and colleagues at our schools? So, to explore this wondering, I am assigning the questions and prompts first and foremost to myself. And I have invited other members of my tribe to enter into this experiment with me. I cannot wait to see all that I/we learn.