TD4Ed Puts Teachers at the Center of Education Reinvention

Last weekend (June 6-8), BIF hosted 50 educators from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, and Chicago for the final share-out of the Teachers Design for Education (TD4Ed) pilot project.

Throughout the six-month TD4Ed project, 12 teams of teachers tackled education challenges that mattered to them, their students, and their schools. The TD4Ed program uses the tools of design thinking and a six-week curriculum to enable teachers to develop solutions that truly get to the heart of the issues they identified.

The TD4Ed teachers came to Providence last weekend ready to discuss their ideas and collaborate with other teachers in the project. They workshopped together, ate together, played together. They presented their ideas and got rich feedback from each other.

“We were so excited to see the connections between teachers who had never met before,” said Kirtley Fisher, a BIF Experience Designer and a co-leader of the project. “Especially since they were from different cities, types of schools, and grade levels.”

For me, a highlight of the weekend was helping the teachers form a community that could live on after the weekend. We worked to get those who were not already on Twitter there, and to help them find each other easily by adding them all to a public Twitter list and showing them how they could use the hashtag #TD4Ed to stay connected as a group.

By the Saturday afternoon presentations, the teachers had begun using the #TD4Ed hashtag for a productive, thoughtful back-channel conversation between themselves and those watching an online livestream of the presentations.

Altogether, 117 people both inside and outside the project sent 1,049 tweets from Friday to Monday using the #TD4Ed hashtag. During the two-hour Saturday-afternoon presentations, 67 people sent 437 messages. A sampling:

  • @STEAMworkPHILLY: Shawn from @HighlanderInst talking the power of the #hashtag! Go #TD4Ed!!
  • @denabassett: My head is about to explode [in a good way]. Greeeeeeeaaaaaaaat ideas. So much more to think about! #td4ed
  • @eduquinn: #td4ed Community critique is the end of a long thoughtful process, but also the beginning of a much larger mission. #dtchat
  • @relyalma: #TD4Ed Team Wells Prep knows that a real student snapshot includes more than just test scores. I'm loving their holistic view of education.
  • @relyalma: #TD4Ed Team New Media's Blueprint program will empower students. I wonder if teachers can integrate student blueprints into their content?
  • @meegz18: Nettlehorst challenge: being seen, being heard, being known. Cultivating positive identity and social responsibility #TD4Ed
  • @ShawnCRubin: Lots of educators & schools talking about failing fast w/ tech integ in schls, but Team EGHS learned Ss don't want 2B experimented w/ #TD4Ed
  • @SplendidSyd: @ShawnCRubin @PCSEDU Look out world! #TD4Ed #edtech venture to tie us together, better understand ourselves, & best support our kids
  • @meegz18: EGHS: differentiating instruction for teachers (just like you would for students) for tech training...brilliant! #TD4Ed
  • @UnkleArnold: Loving the forward thinking of the Mashpee team design challenge! #TD4Ed
  • @EduQuinn: "There's not one way and that's ok." Big take away from BSA's #TD4Ed project on implementing a CS program in their school.
  • @corserossiL Team Innovate: building compassion, changing hearts through habits. Inspiring! #TD4Ed
  • @meegz18: Building compassion empathy in youth by exploring relevant issues, engaging in community service. So important! Love it. #TD4Ed

“When we first began this project, we had no idea just how engaged teachers would be,” said Lindsey Messervy, a BIF Experience Designer and the project’s manager. “Knowing that they have very little downtime in their lives as it is, their response and enthusiasm throughout the whole pilot was truly amazing. So as we prepare open up the online curriculum to the public, their reflections on what worked well and what could be improved are incredibly valuable.”

“Overwhelmingly, the sentiment from our teacher-guests was that they felt personally cared for, professionally supported, and inspired,” said BIF Student Experience Lab Director Sam Seidel. “Of course we should strive to provide such experiences for anyone and everyone, but this is especially important given how hard this group of teachers work, how many challenges they endure in their work, and how much they are taken for granted — and even blamed for the very problems they are working to fix. The TD4Ed pilot has created a much-needed platform for honoring, showcasing, and building upon teachers’ brilliance.”

This teacher-centered approach to education innovation is the heart of TD4Ed. We gave teachers tools and coaching, and helped them connect. Now they’re carrying the work forward in their schools and cities, and discussing their progress with each other — and the world — on Twitter. Back at BIF, we are now busy incorporating valuable feedback from the pilot cohort of teachers and gearing up to make the online curriculum available to teachers across the country later this summer. We couldn’t be more excited about how far this work has come in the past year or about where it’s headed.

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