Interested in Professional Development for Educators?
BIF is grounded in the idea that we need to create new business models in order to transform social systems. So, in the spirit of practicing what we preach, we’re testing out some new business models in BIF’s Student Experience Lab that are closer to home than usual. This work isn't for partners and members; instead, we’re reexamining and experimenting with our own business model in light of one of the projects we’ve been working on.
For the past year or so, one of the Student Experience Lab’s projects has involved teaching educators problem-solving skills through a collaborative, online curriculum. This platform, called Teachers Design for Education (TD4Ed), enables teams of teachers to learn and use this new design thinking skill set to tackle challenges that are meaningful to them in their classrooms, schools, districts, and communities — and implement transformative new solutions.
We created TD4Ed, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, through a series of pilot programs in which teams not only used the online platform, but also participated in hands-on workshops facilitated by BIF staff to complete the curriculum. This model worked: every team — EVERY TEAM! — that started the 6-to-8 week process completed the curriculum and developed an innovative solution to address the challenge they had identified. This was very exciting to watch, and we’re still hearing stories of how these teachers continue to be empowered to drive change in education. After the pilot programs ended, we launched a self-facilitated version of TD4Ed online. Since September 2014, it’s been free and available to any educator who wants to use it at www.td4ed.com.
But that’s not where the story ends. At BIF, design thinking methodologies guide our work, which means that the cycles of iteration never really end. We’re constantly reassessing our work, including TD4Ed, and thinking about how to do it better. We’re looking at how we can deliver TD4Ed to schools and districts that want to incorporate it into their professional development plans, and might want to deviate from the suggested 6-to-8 week timeline to fit their own schedules.
So what does all of this mean? It means that the Student Experience Lab, in true BIF fashion, is prototyping and testing what it would look like to offer a blended, facilitated, professional development version of the TD4Ed experience. Over the next couple of months, we’ll be experimenting with what this offering might look like and solidifying a model that works. We’ve already been offering TD4Ed-based blended workshops for educators: through the pilot programs, through workshops at conferences, and through one-off sessions with schools, networks, and teacher credentialing programs. But this phase of work will give us the opportunity to see how offering TD4Ed-based professional development trainings could be an integral part of how the Student Experience Lab operates.
Right now, we’re trying to gauge interest for such an offering, so here’s how you can help: If you are an educator, school or district administrator, or otherwise affiliated with professional development for teachers, please fill out this quick online form so we can get a sense of the need for this type of offering, and if you would be interested in TD4Ed professional development. Please feel free to send the link to your colleagues and other members of your network, too!