An Amazing Experience: Innovation and Design at the d.school at Stanford
As educators we are often the worst students. As you look around the PD room you see the adults exhibiting all of the behaviors that we would never tolerate from our students. They are on their computers getting a worksheet made, grading papers, texting, and sometimes even searching Facebook or Pintrest. But my recent experience at the d.school was completely different; I didn’t see any of those activities during these two days. The participants were focused and engaged. They used their phones and computers to take pictures and copious notes. The energy and excitement in the room was inspiring.
I was a last minute addition to my district’s team for this institute, and I am so grateful for the opportunity. From the moment I stepped into the d.school the vibe was amazing. The people, both the leaders and other participants, were warm and welcoming. As the d.school staff began to explain that we would be looking at the bike situation at Stanford, there was a pause in the room, but I love the fact that our first day was built around a situation that was not based in education. This allowed us to really dig into the process and build a deeper understanding of design thinking without getting caught up with our educational baggage and preconceived notions based on our district or philosophy. We don’t often get to be so creative and free in our daily work for our jobs. The design thinking process allowed us to think outside the box, see situations in a new light, and be creative in a new way.
There were lots of opportunities to share ideas and gain knowledge even at lunch and in between activities. The mix of people to collaborate with was perfect. There was a representation of districts from throughout the state. The collective wealth of knowledge was astounding and every minute was filled with an open sharing of ideas.
Not only did I leave with the tools and strategies to come back and share with my district colleagues to help implement the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, but with a renewed excitement to do it. I feel prepared to identifying design challenges and know that I have lots of support not only from the California Education Partners, but also from the other districts involved. This process is not a quick fix. We will take our time to find what the real obstacles are and build lasting solutions that address the heart of the problem. We are often quick to think we know the problem and rush to fix it. This works as well as putting a Band-Aid on a crack in a damn. Then when it doesn’t work out we rush to try something else, creating a vicious cycle. We will work with our district administration to make sure that this is not the case. I am glad to have the support and guidance of so many to walk this road together and implement a system correctly. Already, my short time on this team has been a wonderful experience.