Innovation Team + Design Thinking

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:


Published by Alex Bragg

Alex is the Upper School Teaching and Learning Specialist at Woodward Academy in College Park, Georgia. She is passionate about student driven learning, the art of giving and receiving authentic feedback and coaching, innovation in the classroom, balanced and authentic assessment mapping, and school redesign.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: