What is your BIG opportunity for impact? #DesignCamp

Today I had the pleasure of attending #DesignCamp. This event is a participant-driven deep dive into all things related to Design Thinking! The big levers towards deeper learning and equity for all students are: pedagogy, culture, leadership, and innovator methods/mindsets with the goal of spreading more goodness on the world (website). It was my first time attending this event, and definitely won’t be my last. Kaleb Rashad and Eric Chagala certainly know how to throw a party!

The day started with some epic jams by Atlanta-based musician Chavis Flagg (Check him out – it won’t disappoint!). I’m sure the inclusion of Flagg at the start of the day was intentional, as music impacts our ability to connect with one another. According to music psychologist Stefan Koelsch, music “impacts brain circuits involved in empathy, trust, and cooperation” (article).  Flagg’s musical talents did a great job building empathy and cooperation amongst the attendees. Energy levels were high, smiles were big, and everyone seemed ready to embrace the day’s learning.

IMG_9198After engaging our empathy, Billy Corcoran and Mike Strong (with a special remote guest appearance by Dan Ryder) defined the Design Thinking experience for us by taking the group through a quick-paced challenge to design a space suit for attendees of a rock concert on the moon. Many assume Design Thinking challenges will take days or weeks away from academic instruction, but this entire experience was less than an hour. And it did not require a huge makerspace. In fact, our prototype consisted of trash bags, cardboard, tape, and a piece of paper.

Once our astronauts were safely launched on their voyage to the moon, it was time to dig deeper into the learning. The variety of sessions addressed many different facets of Design Thinking and deeper learner in the classroom.Having a large group of educators from our district, we were able to divide and conquer, gathering information and ideating on what all these new ideas meant for the work we are undertaking in our classrooms.

IMG_9201Because I was speaking in the second session, I could only choose one, and so decided to spend my time with David Culberhouse, who always leaves me with more questions than answers! David shared the rapidly changing future with us, from Artificial Intelligence and the new gig economy to the skills this new work landscape demands. David challenged us to consider: 

– What is your BIG opportunity for impact?
– Where can I have action?
– Where can I make change?

It was the perfect segue to the session I led with Paula and Sarah. In our session, we challenged participants to craft a new story of education, to question the systems, structures, and beliefs that have defined education for the past hundred years and embrace a new vision. We discussed the parts, purposes and complexities that reside in our current educational landscape, and dove into the ways in which design thinking can transform learning so that students develop student agency and cultural intelligence.

After our sessions, I appreciated the fact that the day did not just end. Back together in the common space for some more music and sharing of learning. Sara Schairer, of Compassionit.com, briefed us on the prototype her group of participants developed to help promote the work her non-profit is doing to inspire compassionate actions and attitudes. One of the teachers from our group who participated in this design deep dive definitely heeded the call to action and began sharing her plans to spread the compassion to her students.
Ending our day was a moment to reflect on the day, to consider what we had learned and what we were going to do with that learning. These quiet moments are so few and far between in our work. Often times, we attend trainings and then rush out at the end of the day so that we can get lesson plans ready for the next day. Having that opportunity to just think gave me a chance to consider ideas I want to test back at our district to make a BIG impact on our mission to ignite genius and empower students.
Thanks to everyone who made today remarkable! It was truly mind-blowing!

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