Godzilla Gazette, 24

Week of February 15, 2016


  • From Grace
  • The Reflective Practitioner
  • Weekly Team Planning Link
  • Weekly Events
  • For Your Information

From Grace

Aloha, everyone! This is a busy time of year (when isn't it, really?) and during busy times, it's easy to let stress creep in and affect our energy, outlook, and health. When people are stressed, they fall back on things that are comfortable and they feel successful at or at least know how to do well. I know I do this and I'm trying to be cognizant of this and take myself out of my own comfort zone. This week I've been watching TED talks on how to listen better and continuing to do research on design thinking in education: two things I am working on getting better at school and in life.

This week we're trying something new - STEAM Day - and it's exciting and stressful both. Exciting because our students are going to be engaged in hands-on learning all day and it's new and has the potential for fun! Stressful because of time commitments and differing philosophies about activities and purpose. This causes some discomfort and that is okay. Okay, because varying opinions and beliefs are a good thing. If we all thought the same way about everything, we would never grow. Okay because if we're never trying anything new or different, we never grow. And we must grow - there really is no other acceptable option.

What is important, however, is that when we disagree with each other, we are doing it in a way that is productive and not harmful. This is why it is so important that we supportive of this to others. We are Ohana and sometimes, in a family, people get mad at each other, feelings get hurt, disagreement happens. But we are still family and have each others' backs, regardless. This means that we follow the advice of design thinking in the Reflective Practitioner and start with empathy. Understanding where each of us our in our thinking and learning and growing is the first step to building something great together. As Covey said - "Seek first to understand." Then, and only then, can we work together to continue to craft something that is strong and beautiful.

So as you go about your week, I ask that you open your hearts and minds to each other and the possibilities of new traditions. I hope you see how hard your colleagues are working - all of them - and that we all have something inside so strong. Learn something new, help one another, breathe, and smile. It's going to be a great week.

The Reflective Pracitioner

Design Thinking in Education: Empathy, Challenge, Discovery, and Sharing

Big image

Photo credit: Scott McLeod via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

February 8, 2016

"Design thinking gave me a process to weave through all of the project–based learning experiences I create with my kiddos."

"As a leader of a #NextGen school, design thinking is our continuous innovation process."

"Design thinking reminds me all the time why I became an educator; it all starts with empathy."

An Oasis for Educators

The quotes above -- full of insight and affirmation -- are just some of the many that I've heard from educators taken by the power of design thinking and moved to bring it into their practice. When we started the @K12lab at Stanford's d.school back in 2007 we began with a hunch that design thinking would be a great tool for educators to deploy in their classrooms and schools, and that ultimately, it would be a useful process for kids working through interdisciplinary challenges. What we found in our initial prototypes -- launching an innovation lab space, creating a design thinking professional development experience, and running student-facing design challenges for middle- and high-school classes -- was that the design thinking process functioned as a kind of oasis for educators, reconnecting them to their creativity and aspirations for helping students develop as deep thinkers and doers, not just as test takers.

In the last few years, the field has witnessed an explosion of interest in design thinking, nationally and internationally. You can literally see its growth mapped on the Design Thinking in Schools map and in the internationally booming Design for Change student challenge platform. The spread of design thinking also shows up in new national efforts like IDEO’s Teacher’s Guild platform and the very active Twitter chat community built around#DTK12chat. Educators are also supporting each other as design thinkers in regional collaborations like Atlanta’s #AK12DC, a collection of 30 public and independent schools working to accelerate design challenges, and Henry Ford Learning Institute's work in Michigan to gather regional enthusiasts and design thinking leaders.

As the movement for design thinking in education broadens and deepens, many practitioners are flexibly customizing the design thinking process in their own contexts. Coming from the d.school, I particularly love seeing the teachers and leaders with whom we work sharing how they moved from the process we taught them (empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test) to language that works in their own context. For example, check out Mary Cantwell’s DEEPdt or Urban Montessori's incorporation of design thinking in their core values.

4 Modes for Developing Your Practice

If you're considering how to embrace design thinking in your school culture, I believe you should focus on four critical modes underlying the process:

1. Lead with empathy.

Empathy is, of course, the root of human-centered design. Leading with empathy builds on the classic definition of "walking in someone else's shoes" to get us out of our own heads and into the lived reality of others so that we can understand the implicit needs and root causes of the situations in which we work. Leading with empathy means pushing yourself to get closer to people, and to do so consistently, publicly, and with conviction.

How do you do it? Listen more; talk less. Immerse yourself in how others experience your school or program. Adopt a beginner's mind and use all of your senses to notice what's happening around you. At the d.school, we believe in these practices so much that we're issuing a Shadow a Student challenge from our School Retool project to illuminate the power of leading with empathy. If you want to step into empathy, it will be a great way to get started.

2. Challenge assumptions.

This is the opposite of "keep calm and carry on." Challenging assumptions means that when confronted with a problem, you seize the opportunity to do better than you've done before. Useful phrases to build into your lexicon are "What if. . . ?" and "How might we. . . ?" Just the simple act of introducing the language of possibility can start the shift from how we've always done things to the potential for a reframe. Reframing is critical for innovation, but it's also a way of moving from a deficit point of view to an asset focus. Challenging assumptions lets us see what both children and adults are truly capable of doing. Harnessed for good, challenging assumptions steers you in the direction of more effective policies and practices because you're willing to see things differently.

3. Make experiments happen.

Here's the rub. "Just do it" is more than a pitch for selling sports gear. It means try something and learn from it. We can tangle ourselves in all kinds of knots about "embracing failure," but what really matters is trying something, letting people know that you're trying it, and generating opportunities for feedback. You'll learn the most from what doesn't work.

When you find yourself sitting in one more meeting to make a plan for a plan, just stop and say, "What could we try in order to figure this out?" This sets you on the path to experiment with quick hacks and low-resolution prototypes. Whatever you try will point you in the direction of what's next. At the d.school, we call it a bias toward action: Don't talk -- do. And when you do, then you observe, reflect, and try again to get it right.

4. Share your process.

Design cannot thrive in isolation. As you share your empathy work or your experiments, share what's hard, not just what's shiny and new. You can share those things as well, but we'll all learn more when you share your process, warts and all.

I invite you to investigate how leading with empathy, challenging assumptions, and making experiments happen can deepen your teaching or leadership practices. And as you do, please share what you've learned -- you may have discovered what we've yet to imagine.


Weekly Team Planning Template Link

Weekly Events

Monday, February 15, 2016 - Presidents' Day

  • Parent Teacher Conference Day!
  • Title I Meeting - Office - 9:00 am - Maria, Grace
  • LPAC/TELPAS Meeting - 9:30 am - Office - Elise, Grace
  • MFC Field Trip - 9:00 am - Austin Aquarium - Mary and Crew
  • Principal Meeting - 11:30 am - Austin Java - Grace

Tuesday, February 16, 2016 - C Day

  • Class Visit - 8:00 am - Grace
  • Tentative Student Climate Surveys - 8:00 am - Making Lab - Robin, Cindy
  • Safety Audit - 9:00 am - Office - Grace
  • Interview with UT Education - 11:30 am - Office - Students, Grace
  • Thinkery and SXSWEdu Meetup - 6:00 pm - Thinkery - Grace, Any Interested

Wednesday, February 17, 2016 - A Day

  • Elementary Principal Meeting - 8:00 am - Delco Center - Grace
  • Tentative Student Climate Surveys - 8:00 am - Making Lab - Robin, Cindy
  • MOY II Writing - 8:15 am - Classrooms - Katherine, Kirstie, Vivien, Janie, Matt

Thursday, February 18, 1016 - B Day

  • PDAS - 8:00 am - Classroom - Grace
  • CST Meeting - 9:30 am - Office - Suzie, Elise, Kara, Grace
  • ARD - 11:30 am - Learning Lab 1 - Janie, Katherine, Elise, Robin, Grace
  • Reverse Evacuation Drill - 1:00 pm - Schoolwide - All
  • OPTIONAL TELPAS Calibration Session - 3:00 pm - Library - TELPAS Raters, Elise, Grace

Friday, February 19, 2016 - C Day

  • School-wide STEAM Day!
  • Kinder Field Trip - 9:30 am - Texas Memorial Museum - Becky, Paula, Nicole

Saturday, February 20, 2016

  • City-wide Science Fair - 8:00 am - Palmer Events Center - Diana McG, Stefanie, Grace
  • AISD Innovation Summit - 9:00 am

Sunday, February 21, 2016

  • GBP Induction Ceremony - 1:00 pm - UT - Grace

For Your Information


  • If you need something, ask.
  • If you haven't already, make sure to take the Educator's Ethics Course through AISD's HCP.
  • Make sure to utilize reading/writing workshop and small group instruction during core.
  • Remember to take attendance daily on TEAMS.
  • Arrive and pick up your class from special areas on time - respect each other's time.
  • Ensure 504, IEP, ELL, and Gifted Accommodations are being followed
  • Actively supervise your students - Spread out at recess to monitor each area.
  • Check our calendar for important events
  • Try something new and have fun!

Kudos: Do you know of something good? Share it with Grace to be included here or write it in the comments below!

  • To Vivien for organizing a powerful essay contest for our school!
  • To every teacher who helped with the student essays - so incredibly beautiful!
  • To Diana McM for being awarded the Whole Foods Gardening Grant!
  • To everyone on the STEAM team for preparing for this week's big event!
  • To Corinda and Kellie for spreading the love!
  • To Claudia, Lauren, and Stefanie for spreading the love to UT on Friday!
  • To Corinda for attending the 100th Planning Meeting!
  • To Steve and Jennifer for taking on music students during a sub shortage!

Upcoming Events:

  • MOY II Math - 6th Grade - February 23rd
  • MOY II Reading - 6th Grade - February 24th
  • Fire Drill - February 25th
  • CAC - February 25th
  • EOY Circle PM Window Opens - PreK - February 26th
  • African American Student Celebration - February 28th!
  • MOY II Math - 3rd-5th grades - March 1
  • TELPAS Calibration Session - March 3
  • Music Under the Starts - March 4

Website to Explore:

http://www.openmiddle.com/- This site is a wonderful resource for challenging math problems to get our students thinking. Don't let the name fool you, there are questions for Kinder - High School students. Each question has:

  • a “closed beginning” meaning they all start with the same initial problem
  • a “closed end” meaning that they all end with the same answer
  • an “open middle” meaning there are multiple ways to approach and ultimately solve the problem