Improving My Practice in Real Time

This week during our Design Thinking Challenge I’ve tweeted and blogged about our work in progress.  Jennifer Chan of Exhibit Change and Nogah Kornberg of Rotman Ithink chimed in with comments and suggestions that caused me to reflect and then immediately make changes. The tweets addressed gaps in my understanding of the DT process.  They also helped me recognize how to bring in elements of Integrative Thinking – something I had been struggling with.





Today, before they returned to building, we gathered for a 10 minute lesson/discussion.  I shared that we had received advice from professionals and we needed to reconsider how we are approaching our designs.

I began with the Ladder of Inference.  We used it to question assumptions in our causal model.


I had referred to the Ladder, but only incidentally, which was a missed opportunity for students to use the tool to question assumptions. I’m glad the tweetversation poked me.  All of our energies have been focused on the MRI machine. That is what most have selected from the data pool.  What if the need to sedate children has nothing to do with the noisy machine?  What if it’s about the poor training of technicians? What if the technicians don’t really know how to deal with kids and that is why the kids become stressed and then need to be sedated?  If we focus our energies on the machine we will have built the $50 million Nano car. We’d had a conversation about this the previous day, but the ladder made our thinking explicit and helped us see the limitations of our conclusions.

We then considered the forest = calm assumption and that professionals are advising us to think differently about design choices.  I explained that we needed to shift how we were thinking.

I asked them what feeling they want the children to have when in the machine. Many ideas came out: happy, confident that they can do it.  calm, neutral.

I then asked them to think about places where they experienced those feelings: lake, cottage, nature, home, on the couch, in their bedrooms were some of the responses.

I took the calm = forest and asked what is it about the forest that makes one feel calm? Birds singing, sunlight through the trees, a beautiful path to walk on, animals, family.

Next I pointed out that we need to question our conclusion that forest = calm.  When wouldn’t you feel calm in the forest? forest fire, bears, when it’s dark and the trees look like monsters, thunderstorm, freezing cold winter, when you’re lost

The students began to nod as they realized the point being made.  We stopped. They were done listening.  They returned to their builds.  I noticed several begin to change their designs.

Coaching in real time was invaluable.  It allowed my students to receive better instruction.  We have increased awareness of some of the subtleties of design thinking. Imagine if all classroom teachers could be coached as they taught?

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