If I liked Cake

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If I liked cake, today would have been the great icing to end an exciting week with!!! EdLeader21 was a design thinking conference for educators that was going on for the past couple of days, but today it was specifically at MVPS, so ID and the Prefects got to help be student representatives. The first part our day was more about greeting and helping set up the event, then we got to be interviewees. I personally like being an interviewee more than and interviewer because I really like to talk about my stories, and I still need to work on being able to develop questions that lead others to tell their stories.

The design thinking challenge for today was, “HMW design learning environments that promote the 4cs?” To my understanding, the goal was for the educators to become more proficient at design thinking themselves, and to also get ideas for ways to implement design thinking in their schools. They were broken up into groups of 6, but from there they were broken up so that 2 people from each group toured at the lower school to observe and ethnography, 2 people toured the upper school to observe and ethnography, and 2 people stayed and interviewed 2 students. I’m still working on being proficient at being able to coach design thinking, because let me tell you, it is a hard task and I applaud all of my mentors for doing as well as they do, but anyone can be interviewed and it is really fun to then see how the people design for you. (Not to say not anyone can be a coach, but you have to work a bit harder at that.)

What was interesting to me was how their challenge had a lot to do with the topic that my coVenture group is exploring with the roof and the idea of student designed space. The group of educators that were at MVPS today found some great insight about how students need to have a place where they can be comfortable, and often times, while we promote design thinking as a norm at MVPS, there is still a clear divid between “design thinking time” versus “academic time”. While the educators purpose from the day wasn’t to actually finish producing a solution for MVPS, we don’t want this insight to go to waist because it is truly valuable.

As far as student designed ideas go, there has also been something bugging me lately with regards to how the rest of the school has these iProjects. ID is different from the rest of the school because we don’t do an “iProject” that has specific requirements and due dates, we do ventures instead and we are the only ones as of now to do them; however, the school will occasionally take ideas that worked with us and try to implement them into the rest of the high school.

One thing the Disney Cohort has our what we call “passion boards”. There isn’t anything special about the 3 by 4 (I’m just guessing on this, I have no idea about the dimensions, but it is decently large) black styrofoam boards we were given, but we were told that we could do anything with them. The idea was to put things on the board that you cared and felt passionate about. Each cohort member has their’s set up a little differently, and that’s the idea. While some people may have to look around at other people’s boards to get ideas for what to put on their’s and how to structure the layout, everyone is still discovering what works best for them. There aren’t teachers having to say, “Put quotes you like on the top right, and pictures of after school activities on the top left, then capture everything you research and put it on the bottom so you can track the things you have looked into; oh, and this all has to be done by the beginning of next week and then you are done with it because it can’t change.”

Now while the rest of the school isn’t that extreme, they have a lot more structure to their “passion boards”, and I think they just call “iProject boards” which seems like it defeats the idea somehow. ID students at least, have a joke about how the rest of the school has “fake passion boards” because from what we have heard, the students don’t have as much free liberty with their boards. The other high schools may just be missing the point behind the boards, but I haven’t heard much about students actually being passionate about their “passion boards”. This has been bugging me for the last few days because after knowing how our situation is with these boards, I can’t imagine being confined the way students make it sound.

What also bugged me a tad, is that the educators at EdLeader21 only saw the iProject boards that each grade has in the hallway. They only saw the version that showcases what students think is what they are suppose to be doing to get a good grade. They didn’t see ID’s passion boards to show a different way to use the boards. This made me realize that while every student in the high school now has a board, there isn’t a place to showcase the personal boards. A story is worth so much more once it is shared.

Anyway, with all of the excitement and pure joy I have felt after this week, that was just one thing that I observed which bugged me. At the end of the day today we had 7th period which is ID time and we all shared some piece of insight from this week. Ms. Cureton said how she realized how impactful time can be because before this week there were people in the cohort that still felt like ID was a class because there wasn’t a ton different in regards to what we did in the typical day; we showed up for that one period, did some work and continued on. I don’t even slightly mean that we did nothing, because I’m a strong advocator and storyteller for how much we have done, but it is true that in the schedule itself, it was like a class period. Now that the schedule has changed, we have had so much more time together which has allowed us to really dive DEEP and explore our interests more. After this week I think everyone is finally realizing that ID isn’t a class, it is a start up; we don’t do school projects, we do ventures and there is a difference because our goal isn’t to get an A at the end of the year, it is to create and innovate where we see fit in as much time as we need to make a dent.

At the end of the day we read an article about creativity and then held a book club style discussion about it. I wanted to end this post the same way I ended my school day and week, by sharing some of my favorite quotes from the article “What I Wish I Knew About Creativity When I Was 20.” 

Your creativity can reveal itself in so many different ways: parenting, relationships, wardrobe, problem-solving, ideas, shoelaces, Tumblers, cooking. Everyone is capable of creativity. However, waiting around for creativity to strike might mean you never see it coming. Though it might seem counterintuitive, constraints can help you be even more creative. In fact, it can be helpful to create something silly, strange, ugly, or useless because you’ve taken the step that so many people never do.You’ve created. Writers tend to train themselves to notice when they’ve had an idea- it’s not that they have any more ideas or get inspired more than anything else; we just notice when it happens a little bit more. Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with + You are the sum of your influences = Surround yourself with greatness. What do I think about when I write? Ideally nothing. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things. And when you link these feelings together day after day, you’ll start to long for the ability to create. Get started. Finish. Ship. Repeat. Many times, my creative ideas sound better in my head than they do once they’re created. And that’s okay. It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. Is the work you’re doing feeding your need for creativity? 

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4 thoughts on “If I liked Cake

  1. Thank you so much for your time and insights yesterday. It was great hearing from a student’s perspective and learning from you. I know Jeff and I were happy that we were given the assignment of interviewing students. It meant a lot and we took so much from our experience there at Mount Vernon. We also really enjoyed our design thinking task (coventure?), and tried to apply what we heard from the two of you in our student designed space.

    I enjoyed reading your reflections on the day and other topics in your blog. I look forward to reading some more of your posts in the future.

    Thanks again.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing your story and your perspective on yesterday’s EdLeader21 “invasion” of your learning space- the visit to your school was most certainly an “icing” moment for me as well! Also wishing we could have spent more time doing some school-wide ethnography, as that might have led us to be able to see your personal passion boards. The idea for somehow making those more public / accessible sounds like a good one- do you have any “first-blink” solutions to that issue?

    Looking forward to learning more from you in regard to all of the experiences you’ll continue to develop in the DT world- please keep sharing your learning with us!

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