Things I Learned at the d. School

On Saturday I participated in the Stanford d. School's 21st Century Schools Challenge. I had heard a lot about the space and had even read Creative Confidence, but I hadn't actively participated in design thinking before. It wasn't what I expected, but I like it. It stimulated my brain and challenged my ways of thinking. I always appreciate that. Here are a few things I learned from the day:

I love problem solving way more than I realize.
Design thinking is all about identifying and solving a problem. Once you have a solution you try it, critique it, and re-solve the problem based on your new insight. It's cyclical. To many people, this can be frustrating. But as I was thinking through and solving these problems I realized (or re-realized) how much I love solving problems. I literally think it activates something different in my brain. I loved that designed thinking allowed me to be analytical, and it forced me to move out of the analytical into the practical. It made my brain (and my soul) feel so good. I need to actively pursue more instances in my job and life to do this intentional problem solving. It's good for me.

You need to listen to all the voices. 
Our challenged combined a lot of people from a lot of different places. There were parents. There were high school students. There were teachers. There were people who have nothing to do with the education market. Each person brought a different perspective, and they were all important. I really enjoyed hearing the parent perspective on our challenge, but I also found myself yearning for people to understand my teacher-perspective as well. And I really wished there were some admins there as well, because I know they would add a completely different perspective. The workshop really encouraged me to listen to the other side. Further, since I was interviewed about my problem, I wasn't able to hear the the interview of the problem I worked to solve. This forced me to shut up and listen to other people discuss the situation. That was good for me.

Create experiences for people (and create them quickly).
Part of the design thinking process is creating a prototype. Usually this involves making a thing, but they challenged us to create an experience since that's what most of us were trying to do in our classes anyway. First of all, it's a brilliant idea-pitching technique. When run well, that's going to change people's minds way more than a pitch (note to future business self). There's something beautiful to me about this intentional manipulation for people. We have control over the spaces we create. It was a great reminder to me about the environment and experiences I create for my students every day. I have power; it needs to be used wisely.
Not only that, but you can create these quickly. The first prototype for Google Glass took only 45 minutes. These quick ideations prevent us from being too emotionally attached to our ideas, and they allow us to get feedback when it still matters. This was a good reminder for me in the projects I facilitate in my own classroom. We can't wait till the end to review. Really, we should start every day with this review process. Start every day fresh with feedback. Make every day a new prototype. It's a nice frame of mind to me.

Thank you, d. school for a great event (for free!). I appreciate your dedication to solving problems, especially in the education space. I look forward to seeing how I can be a part of things in the future!