My colleagues in the Math and Science Departments and I spent the last two days working with a truly innovative educator, Don Buckley. (How could he not be innovative…it’s in his title!) It was an exhausting, but worthwhile workshop as we learned and experienced design thinking in relation to our work to imagine/create/implement our school’s STEM initiative.
Here are some take away lessons from my experience working with Don and my colleagues…
- There is an important difference between “collaboration” and “cooperation.” Collaboration involves compromise, and that’s when the real work begins. It’s also when real problems often reveal innovative solutions.
- Everyone is capable of innovating. Given the time, resources, and freedom to think big thoughts, great things can happen.
- Time. I know I just mentioned it above, but…wow. We spent almost 5 hours yesterday and 9 hours today in a room thinking about our program. Separated into 4 teams of 4-5 people, we had the time and space to really think.
- Innovation is a mindset and a lens through which to view work. Don pushed us to think about our program in different ways. Through his guidance and the design thinking process, we used the knowledge, passion, and expertise in the room to propose innovative programs and solutions into practice.
- Prototyping and refining are every bit as important – or even more so – than the idea itself.
- Just because you have the time, the guidance, and a good process does not mean that every problem will be resolved. See point #1 on collaboration and cooperation.
- Limitations will always find a way into a discussion. The longer a group can hold off on exploring the limitations of a situation, the more innovative the possible solution. All this is not to say that innovation has to fly in the face of reality. It just means that when a group begins by thinking about all the things that can’t happen, it becomes more difficult to think about the things that can happen.
Having had the opportunity to work with Don, I feel we all walked away with a better sense of the road ahead as we look to build our STEM program. It’s not an easy road, but we now have the tools to begin building an innovative program…and that’s exciting!