Henry Ford Learning Institute

Last week I had the amazing opportunity to participate in a Design Thinking Workshop with two dozen teachers from around the world in Detroit.

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This deep dive gave us all opportunities to feel uncomfortable and successful.  I’m a painfully introverted guy, so when the facilitators shared that first day that we were going ‘out into the field’ to interview people, I froze.  A few deep breaths later, I had reprocessed the instructions.  We were going in teams into public spaces: Secretary of State’s Office, The Amtrak Station, and The Post Office.  Our intent couldn’t be simpler.  We were going to encounter individuals in those spaces, interview them, develop empathy for what they were experiencing.   And just like that, we were off; some vague questions guiding us and a few intrepid ‘locals’ who guided us to the spaces.

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The more outgoing folks started up conversations, those like me carefully observed and made notes.  I ‘created’ a found poem made up of phrases I heard or read while in the Secretary of State’s Office:

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After we reconvened, it was pretty obvious, all three spaces could use an overhaul.  And so, we began to ideate on possible ways to enhance and improve the experiences for the users.

It was this rich jumping off point that got us moving toward a better understanding of how we can integrate Design Thinking into our work with students, teachers, and parents.

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I feel like if you can walk away from an all day workshop with one solid takeaway then you’ve been successful.  Mine is a group of activities collectively called ‘stoking.’  No inappropriate comments here, just motivating.  My favorite stoking activity is a full room rock, papers scissors.  Here’s how it works; your mileage may vary.  You can divide the class into small groups.  You do rock, paper scissors best of three.  Here’s the catch.  If you win, the person you beat now becomes your ‘greatest fan.’  This continues until you end up with the entire class cheering two final players on.  We did it with 24 and it took 3-5 minutes and we were ALL fired up when it was over.  A super fun way to re-motivate when energy is low.

IMG_3676I was also inspired by the physical space of the school.  Finding the giant steel sculpture in the center of the school is just the type of playful integration

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It was fantastic to spend time among fellow passionate educators working to bring joy into their work.  This was my first workshop with HFLI, but it won’t be my last!

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