We finally pitched to Dr. Jacobson, our head of school at MVPS, and I think it went rather well. My understanding was that he was really supportive of the idea and purpose of creating an innovative, creative and flexible learning environment, but was hesitant to think we could have it ready for a grand opening by April 2 which is our hopeful ship day. He also seemed concerned about consistency with the rest of the building as far as things like making the wood match for example, which is something interesting we didn’t devote a ton of time to thinking about before.
He also later made a comment about if we are really attached to the name, which we all laughed about because we actually debated the name a bunch. It was really only between iSpace versus iStudio because we named it during an early period when it seemed fitting for the “i” in front for inquiry, innovation, and impact, the Mount Vernon i’s. We went with iStudio because we thought it was a more descriptive word that was meant to be associated with a design business. At the same time though we aren’t completely attached to the “iStudio” because we did debate for some time until we decided we needed to move further and spending our time focussing on the name early on wasn’t the most productive way to use our time. So we shipped this name: iStudio. (Just to clarify, “ship” is a term in a book we have been reading excerpts from called Linchpin, by Seth Godin. The idea of shipping is basically about the moving forward and finishing part to any project. You need deadlines because they force you to move forward with ideas instead of always ideating on them.)
What surprised me was how he mentioned that he didn’t think we were thinking big enough. He talked about how the future incoming cohorts will respond to the room and was curious if they would enjoy it and if we would have space for them.
The reason I find this interesting and surprising is because I forget sometimes about how not everyone participates in the same conversations. In ID we’ve had many conversations about this new cohort and how they will respond to everything, but we haven’t really feared a reaction to the physical space at all. During the application process for ID’s second cohort (by the way the new cohort members have officially gotten their acceptances and I’m really excited!!) we held interviews in the space so that they would really be in that environment. The group I talked with actually talked about our prototype some and really liked it and thought it had some great ideas for making the space more workable.
We have thought a ton about having enough room for everyone as well. It has been quite evident that our current cohort already struggles with not having enough space, which is part of the reason we started this venture because things are cluttered. The truth is, I probably should have stepped in during this portion of the feedback to better explain our thought process around these ideas because we have not ignored them, and that is something I would definitely do differently next time.
After a myriad of discussions, we have learned the importance of building quick for testing purposes. Our current prototype is definitely not overly ambitious; in fact, it’s rather cautious right now because we really want to get something done quick in order to continue to do innovative work. The idea is based around the need for a flexible and creative space that reflects who we are, and we really are in need of this, therefore we want to start making it happen as soon as possible to push great work.
While it sounds ambitious probably, I would really like to still have at least something done by April 2nd, even if it is just the paint. I want to have that ship date set and I think the iFestival will help enforce the fact that it has to be done and move forward at a high energy, quick pace because the date isn’t set by us. iFestival will be when all of the iProjects present what they’ve been working on all year. ID wants to showcase the fact that we have been doing lots of work, and we want to take advantage of how the rest of the school will already be out of classes and celebrating the progress of the year. Having the grand opening on this day would give us a nice way to “close out” this venture, and also spring into a new one by inviting people into the space so that we can do some ethnographic work as well.
With this said I say “close out” very loosely because really this room is like a high res prototype. We know that eventually a new high school building is being designed, and eventually we will probably move to a different space. However, the space we are designing for currently is meant to be working within these perimeters so that we can have something for the present that still meets our needs. The great thing is that when we eventually move, the paint will be the biggest long lasting impression which would still be great for any work space because the purpose is that the space is meant to be very user friendly and workable.
Many of us hope to design more things, like our idea of the cafe or something on the roof, so the room is a chance for us to implement and test some of our ideas, so that we can think even bigger in the future. Maybe for the future we even incorporate some of our bigger ideas we’ve had in the past that didn’t seem feasible for this more short term goal, like the netting hanging from the ceiling, the ferris wheel for book bags, or the compartment containers in the ceiling ideas to all go with this circus like theme.
Personally, I discovered how what I was more nervous about was the feedback from Dr. Jacobson and how to respond to that, and I realized that maybe we didn’t practice this part as well as we could have. We did take the time to brainstorm potential questions and answers we may get, but we never stimulated actually saying the questions and responses we came up with, which may have helped to have done. I could feel the tension between when to respond to feedback to help our audiences’ understanding versus when to just nod and say thanks you. I’m sure, based on talking to other teachers that were in the room, that people are always going through this struggle, but it was just interesting to experience myself and I think we need to find a way to practice this more so we can get better.
I’m still just thinking about “What are the next steps?” We were given some specific things to look into, like the wood and casters for the tables, but I’m still trying to decipher if there are things that we could start moving ahead with or not. I mean, could we start painting, but maybe we need to hold back on ordering tables? I haven’t quite understood what point we are at with what could be done big scale versus still prototyped scale.
Overall, I’m ready for the team to keep talking and for our conversation with Dr. Jacobson to continue. We are currently in the process of working out our next steps one of which is to finalize crafting our thank you, follow up email to Dr. Jacobson tomorrow, and to continue moving our prototype along. We were all so thankful that these teachers could take time in their busy schedules to come listen to our ideas and it just keeps reinforcing to me how much we do value student voice at MVPS and just how powerful and influential it can be. I think just hearing the positive feedback from “people high up” as we say, was such an accomplishment for us in this coVenture and in all ventures to know that student ideas can be taken seriously if you really put the time and effort into them.
This is the kind of meaningful work that really captures what is so special about what we do in the Innovation Diploma.