Wednesday, 24 September 2014

#GTASYD Moonshot Thinking

I've been very lucky, my head is bursting with ideas whilst I sit amongst a bunch of super talented educators at Google Teacher Academy - Sydney 2014. #gtasyd  I've experienced two fast-paced, action-packed days, lead by the inspiring team at NoTosh.  I'm at the reflection stage of the process however I have to admit, that with all of the incredible energy and thinking this is surface level for what I am capable but it is a start.

Here is our awesome team 'Google Big Kids', lead by our Google mentor Abi, who was patient and supportive as we had our thinking stretched within the amazing spaces at Google HQ, Sydney.


A little bit of context, we have 50 educators selected from within N.Z and Aussie who have been selected to participate in a programme to take an inkling of an idea and turn it into a project that in turn will have a great impact on our education context and beyond.  We've been inspired by what Google call moonshot thinking.  It's about getting you to challenge your dream and think bigger, like 10x.  NoTosh have guided through a process to get us reflecting, challenging and looking at possibilities working in collaborative teams.  It was a great opportunity to be critiqued and stretched in thinking by other educators who are doing amazing things in their classrooms, schools and beyond. Our groups were a mix of teachers, leaders, e-learning facilitators which gave the opportunity for different perspectives, skills and thinking to be brought to the table.  I felt it was a good mix and made me think about how we group students and the need for diversity to bring about tension, and falling out of that growth.

The process has been super fast paced.  At times, I felt a little overwhelmed and hit a couple of walls.  Day one was particularly frenetic and I spent a large amount of that time borderline anxious however aware that this discomfort had to be good for me!  My day two experience was more comfortable, and allowed a little more reflective time that I appreciated as I was connecting some of my thinking. Google tools were been slipped into the day that were new to me and I had some time to note, explore a little and co-create some tools with the others in the room.  At one point we hit hundreds of new ideas, that were collated and counted in a 10 minute time span.  Insane!  Goes to show just what can be created in the right environment and with the right sort of process.

To come up with our 'moonshots' we spent a period gathering observations and interviewing to immerse ourselves in our context using a reflective lens.  I work in a modern learning environment with collaborative teams of teachers who practice in a way that personalises school and learning.  We honour student voice so this is where I started as whatever my moonshot was going to be it had to be for the benefit of our students.  With so many visitors walking through our doors (approx. 2000 to date in our two years of operation) one of the greatest influence we may have on reshaping education is from what visitors take away from what our students are saying, doing and creating.

I used a range of tools such as interviews, surveys and reflecting on snapshot pictures to help me immerse myself in the learning at school.

This student voice was both amusing yet telling for a couple of reasons as I reflected on what the learning design looked like on a typical day in the senior learning space.  Q:  What do you think of workshops?   "Poo...another workshop. To be honest.  I don’t really like workshops."
Note: Typically workshops tend to be short, intensive, teacher lead sessions with a focus on a learning strategy or skill building in reading, writing and/or mathematics.

..and this .. a snapshot of practice across a typical day in the senior learning common. This discounts the massive amount of fantastic learning taking place but we are are striving to constantly push the boundaries and strive for better.

At google, we set about taking what we had observed in our contexts then going through a process of deconstructing our thinking then pulling it back together again to form a moonshot.

After, a couple of rigorous days of thinking I came to this...

'How might we leverage our open-mindsets for us to continue to innovate, engage and inspire learning in our schools whilst under pressure?'

My solution to the problem to to honour student voice and align to our values of personalising, innovating, collaborating, relationships and authentic learning.  But I'm missing parts to the puzzle.

So what now? thinking is to bring the kids to the board table...have them reviewing, critiquing and discussing our overall learning design model alongside staff.  Have them truly driving all aspects of the learning design, the day to day design and the bigger picture parts.  'Under pressure' is another part of the puzzle as under pressure we tend to default to the tried and tested in other words our safe place.  So we need a tool to help us to reflect against, we have our values but also there's a need for something else to sharpen our thinking.

After a month of reflecting, actioning and talking to the kids I'm now going with a moonshot of:

'How might we leverage student voice to continue to impact on, redesign and create what schooling could look like?'

I feel this puts the kids at the centre and that's integral to my project.