(For more pictures and quick observations from the day you can see the ID blog )
Enthusiastic. That is how I felt at the end of today. I don’t even know where to begin, but I suppose the beginning in nice. No, I must go way back, to before the beginning.
We had a very vague idea of what we would be doing today.We did know the topics were ADHD, blood clotting, and pregnant women taking medication, and that we were helping them go through the design thinking process, but that was about it. It wasn’t until we showed up at school that we even knew where and when to meet so we could get on a bus to go to the CDC. We also didn’t know JamCam and Tedwards would be joining ID on our adVenture today. The theme of the morning: at least act like you know what you are doing. This is what changed our thinking. We were going to be the experts in design thinking, which isn’t usually how this works for us.
We arrived still full of curiosity, but when we walked into the room there was some unease. Adults sat around at different tables, crunched over notepads, and we just subtly made our way to the other side of the room. To be honest, we were nervous and confused. You can tell someone what they are going to do, or you can not, but they have to figure out how to react either way all on their own. We were told we were observing, but that we could also get involved in the process. We were told that we were going to be helping the adults. We were told we could wonder around the room with full range. We were given name tags and told we could eat the snacks. We were encouraged to use our phones and social media to share what we were working on.
Essentially, we were told we could do everything we can’t do in school.
And it was amazing!
It was mind blowing to look at these teams that have never done design thinking, and to remember what it was like for us when we first did a DT challenge. To us the slides that Ms. Cantwell was showing were about common lingo and terminology. We have come such a far way since last year, and I’ve been noticing this all week. When the Disney Cohort (ID team) finally realized that we really do know what we are doing, and got comfortable with leading, that is when things started to get interesting.
The adults looked even more nervous then us. They had no idea what design thinking was coming into today. I think they were intimidated by us, yet they didn’t seem like they believed we could be helpful. They all had that stereotypical adult to kid look, with the preconceived notion that we couldn’t possibly teach them anything.
But once we got comfortable, which didn’t take too long, we moved furniture around and nudged our way right into the mix, whether they liked it or not.
We made them feel uncomfortable and it was spectacular!
To kick stuff off we played some improv games, to really get them more comfortable with each other. The Disney Cohort even lead a game, which really proved to us that we can lead adults because age isn’t important.
Once we started getting into more of the DEEP design mode, it was funny to notice things that they were doing that are blatantly “wrong” in the sense of DT. They were jumping to solutions, they didn’t have focused users, their problem statements were specific before they talked to users, they were scared to put crazy ideas on the table, they were hesitant to deviate from their preconceived plan, but they were generally open to discovering new ideas thankfully.
One of the questions from the beginning of the day was, “How is the design process relate to the scientific method?” Tedwards gave an excellent response that really stuck with everyone there I think: “They are basically the same, but with one extra layer: empathy. Design thinking is all about focusing on a user and really developing a human based problem and solution.” This is when people started to really listen because I could tell that they recognized how they hadn’t really been talking much with users. (I’ve noticed recently that I have a habit of trying to read facial expressions, and apparently I’m often fairly accurate.)
When everyone partnered and did “mock” interviews, (when you interview someone, something comes out of it, so it isn’t really a “mock” interview, but it wasn’t specific to their topics), one person was left without a partner, so he interviewed Tedwards. I observed and participated a little in this conversation, and he was mainly curious about how we use design thinking at MVPS and really trying to uncover what DT is. At the end of the interview he said, “I learned more from this then from any of the visuals and definitions.” This to me was a great example of how helpful it is to talk to real people, and I think the practice exercise was really beneficial for the members there to realize why they were even there today; to learn a better way to problem solve for people.
By the time we got around to making HMW statements, the adults were still a little on the fence about us students being there. However, by the time we were through brainstorming some possible solutions with them, they got over us being “high school students”. They told us that we helped them come up with ideas they never would have though of. It was great to hear that because at least for me it really made it feel like we were making a dent. We were helping to solve a real problem. We were helping to change lives. We were doing.
When it was time for the real interviews, the CDC doctors were coming to find us to join them with the interviews. They wanted us to work with them for the greatest possible outcome. While we were interviewing I noticed that my group was still really fixed on their initial “made up” user. They had told us at the beginning that they were designing for a parent of a preschool child with ADHD and their problem was how to get the parents to go to a therapist rather than just medication. The big problem with this was that the person we actually interviewed didn’t have a preschooler. This mom had a 14 year old boy that was diagnosed in 3rd grade, and she was really a success story. This mom handled the situation ideally, and really the team wants to figure out how to encourage other parents to be like this mom. It is nice to hear from success stories sometimes, but they were focused on asking her about preschool ADHD children which she couldn’t relate to.
One of the HMW statements we created earlier was “HMW annihilate the social stigma behind ADHD treatment?” (Or something to this extent.) I really liked where this conversation was going too. This wasn’t technically focused on preschool children, though that is what they originally planned as the end goal. Later at the end of the day a lady from the pregnancy group said the “what if”, “What if we are focusing on the wrong problem.” From what I saw today I think this might be the biggest thing that the CDC members need to look into: defining their problem statement. It’s okay to pivot from the original problem which is what we were trying to teach them, so I wonder how they will decide to do.
A great part about working on the ADHD team was that their problem related very closely to school at the end of it. From our brainstorming and interviewing, we discovered that school communication with parents is really struggling. We also noticed that sometimes all of the ADHD children get thrown in one room because that teacher can “best” handle them. What happens is that these kids just get isolated all together rather than really trying to involve them in activities with the rest of the class. So we though what if we add a therapist into a preschool? What if preschools had times where this therapist did activities and exercises with all of the class to lessen ostracization of just ADHD kids? What if the teachers were better educated about ADHD so all teachers were the “best” at helping them not just handling them? We learned that it is actually quite normal to have ADHD, so why is it still called an issue or a problem? These kids aren’t “messed up” they just learn differently and have different skills. What if all preschool classes had a bigger enfaces on different learning styles to encourage everyones strengths? Another issue is that even if students are better helped at school, the parents don’t always know how to best benefit their child. What if parents came in and watched class to see how when teachers interact with the kids in this way, it is helping their child to lear? What if, to take away social stigma, parents and students met as an after school program with a therapist, but it was given a name other than “therapy”. Sometimes simply changing a name can make a huge difference in how it is perceived.
All of these ideas we came up with at the CDC. When we got back to school, we started unpacking what we did at the CDC. We had three big questions that were something like this: HMW assist the CDC with these three problems? HMW enhance creative confidence among others? HMW share our story with others? After all, my favorite quote from interviewing potential heads of school was: “If done correctly, ID should effect the rest of the school.” If we want this to effect everyone, we need a way to show what we even do.
We ended up realizing that this adVenture could connect to so many new Ventures. We wondered if MVPS could be a test group for the preschool ideas having to do with ADHD. We discovered that we really enjoyed leading design thinking and wondered, “What if we create a ID Counseling Team that goes to other companies to help lead them in DT and team building?” “What if we had a video team that came on adVentures with us to record and document the events? We wonder, “What if we taught a (i)time class for the students at MVPS?” We were curious as to why teacher meeting don’t have students at them since they are planning and designing for students; why don’t we practice our own advice with empathy designing for a user? We have ideas about creating a “Collage Timeline” with pictures from all of our adVentures, and putting a TV in the overlook so students can see our blog post about what has been going on.
Overall, after today we were inspired to think of tons of projects that our out there that we can do, and we acknowledged that we need a way to share these ideas with the rest of the school, and then to the world, so we can get involved and take action. We went to the CDC and when we left, we had made a mess. We came back to school, and now we have made plans for a bigger mess. A mess for success.
Now I’m Enthusiastic.
(Side note: Another success of the day is that I got a lead in both of the school plays we are about to start! I’m playing Princess Keli in Mort, and Ophelia in 15 Minute Hamlet! Come see the shows!!!!!!!!!)