EOY Thoughts #IMMOOC #ITA17


  • Changing culture
  • Sense of Place
  • Student Centered, Student Voice
  • Design Thinking
  • Developing Mindsets

Been out of school for just over 3 weeks, but summer hasn’t really begun. This is the year summer of “what was I thinking?” and a whole mess of conferences and workshops. (Definitely bit off more than I can chew…. but it’s so tasty!)

I am almost at the point where it’s exciting and invigorating, but I know I have to process it all and get it organized in my head. Not quite there yet – but I think there’s a story.

First order of business after school exams ended was the opportunity to take a group of kids on an experiential learning trip to Iceland. The goal was to be more than tourists and bring back to our school an action plan that would lead us to a better vision of sustainability.

We did most of the usual things and a few less so: hot springs, hikes, geysers, waterfalls, volcanoes. We helped at a Turf House project and built a wall. We lived in an eco-village. We visited a geothermal power plant. We shopped in Reykjavik. We cooked, we recycled, we composted. It was amazing.

About halfway through our time in Iceland, my colleague and I decided that when it came time to make our action plan, we would structure the workday as a design thinking exercise. We felt that we could frame our experiences as the empathy piece, and asked the kids daily to reflect on how what we’d learned helped them construct their vision of sustainability. We crafted an essential question that would sort of define the problem and guide them in the brainstorming session. Our prompt: “What steps can we take to imbue our school with a sense of place such that it embraces a vision of sustainability within a community that is both highly diverse and very fluid?” We brainstormed – no post-it notes, no whiteboard, just pieces of paper and a table. We examined our ideas, talked and took notes.

This is an unfinished story. We are working through a Google doc of plans and intend to submit them to the administration by August first. But the important point is the attitude… the tiny shift in culture, the students taking charge; at one point in our planning day my colleague and I referred to their 10 minds as the leads in this – they retorted that no, it was us too and we needed to make sure we included the whole school community. Might not sound like much, but it was one of those ground-shift moments.

Again, it’s an unfinished story, but I think it’s coming together.