Transforming Learning, One Experience at a Time

Infographic of 2017-18 design thinking experiences

In August, Dr. McClurg challenged all of us to begin a journey from the tame to the wild, and as evidenced by some of the data Sarah, Paula, and I put together about our year, the DMUSD staff did just that. This year for us has been a monumental year of learning, creativity, and celebration, which would not have been possible if not for the amazing staff we were fortunate to work with throughout this school year. 
When people think and act like a designer, they must be able to see not just what is, but what might be. The design thinking opportunities teachers facilitated for students this year truly exposed students to what might be by helping students discover their inner genius, and then empowering students to use that genius to advance the world. We watched in awe as students demonstrated sincere empathy and felt a call to action within, and outside of, design thinking experiences. We felt joy when watching the faces of teachers as they saw their students demonstrate their passion for learning. And we enjoyed seeing those proud parents listen to their children present their prototype solutions at packed exhibitions! 
And we learned a lot, too! We learned…
– how important it is to always start with why and to know the priorities. When people understand the why and have an opportunity to be a voice in building the how and what, there is a greater success in change efforts. 
– that every site and teacher, just like every student, has unique qualities requiring a customized approach to integrate design thinking experiences. 
– connecting with industry experts to not only dive deeper into the content standards and relevant application to careers today, but to provide high-quality feedback on student thinking, exponentially increases student learning. And that expeditionary partnerships with local organizations is truly a game changer that leads to extraordinary experiences for students!
– a constant feedback loop is important from all stakeholders. Feedback, or better yet, feedforward, is an art form, and we are all working towards being master artists. 
– our beliefs and experiences inform our actions. It is critical to give people an opportunity to experience something new for themselves so that they are empowered to contribute to leading change initiatives. 
We have some hopes and plans moving forward to the 2018-19 school year. Besides continuing to support the momentum for implementing design thinking experiences in the classroom, we are looking to increase opportunities for expeditionary partnerships and industry expert connections. We’re building design thinking-ish mini-experiences that teachers can use within a lesson, as well as redesigning some of our planning tools to be more user-friendly. 
We are thankful to each and every staff member and student of DMUSD for the opportunity to serve you, and look forward to continuing in our unrelenting pursuit to create the extraordinary school experience for all students.

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