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One School’s Leap Into Design Thinking, Part II

After a whirlwind end to the school year and an early summer dominated by a house sale and cross-country move, it is time to finally share more about one school’s attempt to use Design Thinking concepts to tweak the daily schedule.  For a recap of the early steps of this process and the entire plan, please refer back to the previous post here.

Though the responsibility of designing and setting class schedule is mainly left to administration, it was important to us to include faculty and students in the process.  After all, they are the users of the schedule.  As described in the previous post referenced above, the Discovery phase called for the involvement of these two user groups.  After data was collected and compiled from sessions with faculty, we turned to our most important users.  All 6th and 7th graders were split into groups of 15-25 and placed with 2 or 3 teachers familiar with the Chalk Talk and Affinity Mapping protocols used for data collection and discussion.  In these groups, students were given the opportunity to share their thoughts on schedule details that either work or do not work for them.  In order to ensure useful and relevant data, teacher facilitators previewed the session by brainstorming schedule elements with students .  By defining up front the difference between a scheduling issue and other issues, they helped limit irrelevant comments.  For example, when discussing lunch, students would need to realize that time and duration of lunch were open for discussion, but not what food was being served.2014-01-23 08.58.18

It is always evident in sessions such as these that students love to be asked what they think.  This chance to be heard is essential in the development of a voice and the ability to self-advocate.  While there are those that will distract from the task at hand, for the most part students took this opportunity seriously.  Many engaged in the process in a way that showed their belief that they have a say in their own educations.  Teacher facilitators were all advised, however, to remind students that just because they want something changed does not mean it will be.   The complication of putting together a school schedule and the limitations in place due to staffing, facilities, and finances can make the reality a fair bit different from the ideal.  It was important for students to hear this and realize that the goal was to simply get feedback on their experience with the schedule.  This was sometimes difficult as many students wanted to talk about how things should be rather than how they are.  All comments, though, were useful in the overall analysis.

These student sessions were held in 45 minute blocks as part of a rotation of activities taking place on a non-cycle day (such days do not have scheduled classes and are set aside for large inter-disciplinary projects and/or special events).  I have shared the document teacher facilitators worked from to help them get started with the sessions here.  Schedule Student Feedback Protocol 1-23

In the next installment, I will share the next steps of the process which included interpretation and ideation, as done through Empathy Mapping and Prototyping.

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