The pilot program for TD4Ed was focused on testing the curriculum across a variety of settings, rather than embedding it deeply within one location. This meant that each participating school or district sent just one team to be involved in the process. Despite this “lone wolf” model, however, we saw individual teams take the design thinking process and run with it — bringing it back to their schools and districts, and getting their colleagues and students involved. In this second phase of work, we wanted to explore how we could more deliberately foster larger cohorts of teams within particular settings, and what effects might come from this kind of scale.
We were especially curious about what it might look like to roll out TD4Ed across an entire school, district, or network. We wondered if this approach could effectively build momentum around design thinking and problem solving within a community, and ultimately attract others to join in, too. We also were hopeful that such scale could make it easier for teachers to get support for their solutions from their administrations and colleagues. This kind of roll out also seemed like a good way to create a community of TD4Ed users who could help each other through the process, give feedback as necessary, and otherwise spur each other on to innovative solutions. A single school, district, or charter network seemed like a logical place to start. But we were also interested in exploring online and other larger communities to see how we might engage an existing network around a shared challenge, and provide a way for them to meaningfully collaborate with each other.
As we investigated how this form of rollout might work, we found that starting with local networks and connections was particularly productive, as was tapping into self-defined online communities with which we were already at least tangentially involved. A teacher from one of the TD4Ed pilot teams put it best when she told us that rather than trying to implement her team’s solution across their entire school in one fell swoop, their strategy was to “start with the people who already love you.” I think this notion holds true for spreading education tools, too. Starting with the relationships and connections you already have and the networks that are already in place around you gives you access to a dedicated, active group of teachers who are more likely to give you and your tools a chance — and who can also give you valuable feedback on what is and isn’t working for them.
The first chart below contains details for a sampling of the education networks out there. The second is a list of school districts that have innovation officers in place (or similar positions), and so may be particularly amenable to trying new approaches and supporting education change. Are we missing any? Let us know and we’ll add them to the list.