Last week I had the honor of facilitating an Envisioning Session for Felicity Franklin Local School District (southwest Ohio). Superintendent Dave Gibson gathered a rock star team of administrators and teachers to begin discovering the future of learning and researching best practices across the US. The Felicity Design Team is charged with creating a new vision for the district that will personalize learning ensuring every child is on a path to future success.
I introduced the team to the EnvisionEdPlus Innovation Design Process, opening them to idea of to shifting the culture of learning from perfection to iteration. As educators we work very hard ‘get it right’ and then keep doing it that way - because it is right. We aim for perfection. We teach children to value the ‘A’ . At graduation we honor the valedictorians - they earned the most ‘As’. EnvisionEdPlus challenged Felicity to move beyond the ‘A’ and focus on teaching all children to think and innovate.
We had deep conversations about what it looks like (and doesn’t look like) when students are innovating. They reflected on the practices of a 5th grade teacher in the district. When one of her students makes a mistake - she stops the lesson and CELEBRATES! Every student feels safe to make mistakes and learn/grow from them.
Throughout the day, I modeled personalized and blended learning. We used Google Drive - not paper - to store and share resources. Instead of following a prescribed plan where everyone reviewed the same materials at the same time - they were given 5 resources to review (digital articles, infographics, data and videos), a timeline and a task - and sent on their way. Some team members stayed in the room and worked together. Others went to their offices for some quiet time. Another, put on his headphones and stayed in the room. When they returned, we had very rich discussions about the future of learning and implications on teaching and learning in their district. Hands down, the most powerful resource was Tony Wagner’s Tedx NYED presentation on Play, Passion and Purpose.
The Digital Learning Now Smart Series publications: Blended Learning Implementation Guide 3.0 and Personalizing and Guiding College and Career Readiness led Felicity to the greatest ‘aha’ of the day. One of the high school teachers looked around the room and said “ Oh, my - this means we have to re-think everything: roles, structures, schedules, staffing patterns, and budgets”. My response was - YES! While we don’t have to make these changes overnight - if we are truly going to personalize learning so every youth succeeds in school and beyond - we must completely re-envision education.
We ended the day physically building structures that metaphorically represented visions of the future of Felicity Franklin Local School District.
What is the next step for Felicity Design Team?
They are attending Ohio’s 1st Personalized Learning Design Lab in Columbus Ohio on March 17th where they can move from envisioning personalized learning to planning and prototyping their district initiative.