TD4Ed Reflections: More Passionate Teachers!
I gave serious consideration to becoming a teacher when I was graduating from college. But then I thought about my father, a public school carpentry teacher who would eventually retire after 28 years. He was passionate about his job, but always expressed frustration around decisions being made that didn’t take the teacher’s perspective into account. There were scheduling and staffing decisions that made it nearly impossible for him to plan projects that were relevant to his students’ needs. Did I really want to take on that challenge?
I decided to pursue a different career. Now, years later, the TD4Ed project has brought me back around to the frustration that teachers in our country face far too often and what led me away from the teaching profession. We have had the opportunity to work with 50 teachers from Chicago, Philadelphia, and Rhode Island — some in their first year of teaching, some veterans with nearly 30 years of experience. We’ve asked them to work in teams to choose a challenge they face in classrooms, schools, and districts, then tackle that challenge through a six-week program centered around the methods and tools of design thinking.
In such a short timeframe, we have seen teachers take on challenges that they normally would have shied away from — moving from anxiety about making waves to being confident about the ideas they developed from a rigorous and human-centered process. Here's a video that shows what I'm talking about:
And here is what we’ve observed:
- The power of collaboration. Not only are teachers finding a new and effective ways of working with each other, they are meeting like-minded educators to support and motivate them. The teachers in our pilot sites are from a range of schools and teach different grades, but they have discovered they all deal with similar systemic issues and can learn from each other.
- Seeing the “aha” moment. We encourage our teachers to think bigger and to look beyond the simple solution. As they dive in and start exploring, they understand what is really behind their challenge. One team started with how teachers can use student testing data, then realized the information teachers really needed was around the child’s experience — what is happening beyond the school walls. All of our teams have had at least one of these “aha” moments, and they become passionate about finding solutions.
- Finding their voices. Teachers are confidently presenting solutions to their peers and principals. Not only are their peers and principals listening, but they are helping to implement new practices. We’re excited to see how we can build a community to ensure their ideas reach the next level, and beyond the four walls of their schools.
Our teachers are excited about what they are learning from TD4Ed and how it has changed their teaching practice. Like my father, they have passion for their craft and face frustrating problems; however, our teachers have now learned a process that taps into the mindset and skills they already have to address these challenges.
I encourage you to join us via livestream on Saturday, June 7, to listen to the stories of our teams, learn about the incredible work they are doing, and give your support and feedback to them as they begin to craft the future of their projects. Until then, you can read about the experiences of our Rhode Island pilot teams, who have finished the pilot program and continue to prototype and test their ideas:
- Team BVP is building a way for teachers at their school to collaborate and differentiate lesson plans for their students.
- Team EGHS is taking the concept of differentiating instruction for students to differentiating professional development for teachers.
- Team MET is working on a common rubric for students, teachers and administrators to talk about student projects.
- Team Warwick has started an informal learning group for teachers in their district.