Innovation Team + Design Thinking: Meeting 1

Each school at Woodward Academy has an Innovation Team, and I’m excited to lead the Upper School’s team this year.  Last year, the team led the design and implementation of a conference among the Upper School faculty during a late start school day.  Various faculty members presented on topics of expertise, and you chose which sessions you wanted to attend.  It was a tremendous success, and we’re looking forward to planning Conference 2.0 this year!

In the spirit of innovation, I wanted us to do some vision casting when we first met as a team in late August and use design thinking to inform our goal(s) for this year.  Sure, we’re going to continue with this year’s version of the conference, but I wanted us to do some empathy work and be sure we are really targeting the needs of our users: the Upper School faculty.

We used some of Mary Cantwell’s DEEP design thinking resources and scaffolds to help guide our work.  We first started with breaking our team up into two small groups.  We each spent 5 minutes rotating through some discovery and empathy work.  With the discover scaffold, I asked the teams to write one word that comes to mind when you hear “innovation” and to go for volume.  I wanted to start with this so the team could see the trends and diverse representations of the word prior to starting empathy.  With the empathy scaffold, I asked the teams to brainstorm questions they could use to guide their empathy interviews with their departments.  We then clumped the sticky notes into themes or common areas and the meeting adjourned with everyone pledging to conduct empathy interviews in their department meetings the following week.

We’ll meet again in the coming weeks to debrief the empathy interviews and frame a HMW statement to guide our work this year.

Here are some pictures of our work thus far:



A Grateful Heart

Gratitude.  Grateful.   Grace.

What comes to mind when you hear these words?  

Is it the 2018-2019 school year?  Is it your job? Is it your students?  Is it your family? Is it your community?

I would be willing to bet that many of you are like me in that you probably didn’t think of the 2018-2019 school year or students (if you’re in education) when you first heard those words.  I thought of my family and my tribe-the greatest friends in the world! There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but I’m challenging myself to re-frame my lens of gratitude to include my work and professional life this year.  What did you think of?

As we begin a new school year at Woodward Academy, our focus in the Upper School and across the Academy is gratitude.  In addition, we read The Anatomy of Peace this summer.  As I reflect on this book and what gratitude means to me, I’m reminded to be grateful in all circumstances, especially as I navigate conflict and uncomfortable situations. Be grateful for diverse perspectives as they push you to unhinge your thinking and establish vulnerability .  Be grateful for the challenges as they produce perseverance and opportunities for collaboration. And yes, even be grateful for the colleague or student who may seem rude or disrespectful at times as this allows you to practice empathy and understand their feelings.

Everyone has a story to tell. Having a heart of peace filled with gratitude forces us to stop objectifying people and situations.  Instead, it allows us to be present in the moment and grateful for another’s feelings and dispositions (you know, treat them as if they are a human being).  It doesn’t mean we have to accept being disrespected or made to feel less than, but it does mean we should give grace and thanks.  I challenge myself each day of this school year to be grateful in and for all things.

Gratitude.  Grateful.  Grace.

What comes to mind when you hear these words?