Sunday, January 31, 2016

Innovation Incubator Part III: Empathy Leads to Understanding

This post is a long time coming, but there have been a number of leaps forward with the Innovation Incubator process. In an effort to "catch up" my blog to the current state of the Incubator project, this is going to be fast and loose.

In my last post, I tried to document how we started our Innovation Incubator process, specifically as we began to learn Design Thinking Processes and internalize the principles that drive Design Thinking. As part of the Summer Design Thinking Experience, we tried to affect the learning spaces of these teachers, short of starting major construction projects. We were able to obtain furniture that could have an immediate impact on classroom culture and activities.

Getting used to the new digs. Photo via Andrew Sharos, @AndrewSharosAP

Photo via Josh Bailey, @BaileyLHS

Renewing learning spaces was a nice start, but we wanted to gain empathy and understanding related to the question, "How Might We Enhance the Learning Experience?" The real work began in August and September, when the group interviewed different groups of students to gain insight regarding how school might be redesigned to meet their needs.

As a group, we convened and summarized these insights on giant sticky notes:

This looks messy, and it is. The Incubator Teachers further interviewed teachers from both campuses and different disciplines.

From my perspective, these are some of the big ideas gleaned from the student insights:

  • Students want teachers who are about them, who "instill hope"
  • Students want real life freedom to work on material that's important to them
  • Students like learning that's active, and working on meaningful projects
  • Students are extremely insightful about assessment FOR their learning, and want opportunities to learn at their own pace 
  • Students appreciate the freedom to redo and retake assessments
  • Students appreciate clear rubrics available ahead of the assignment, and appreciate being able to help create the rubrics
  • Students feel like there's too much material thrown at them
  • Students feel like teachers talk too much
  • Students notice when assessments don't match classroom instruction

NEXT: Prototyping the Model

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