Google Thinking, Lone Nuts and Moonshots

Last week I was part of the 2014 Google Teachers Academy in Sydney. 50 teachers from across NZ and Australia had been selected to attend this 2 day experience at Google Sydney. Despite all our inherent differences – age, locations, expectations of the next 2 days, positions of leadership – we were all the same in that we all want change in education. Tom Barrett and Hamish Curry from No Tosh had assembled an awesome team of mentors from last year’s GTA to lead us towards making this change happen.

It started off like any other edu conference these days. People meeting outside the building (or in coffee shops just beside) some that know each other already, but the majority being those wonderful first f2f meet ups. Hugs, hand shaking and introductions out of the way we were then let into the Google buildings (yes, they have 3 in Sydney).

It was obvious from the start that this was not going to be like previous Google Teacher Academies. The first to be led by No Tosh, this was far more about Google thinking than Google products (much to my relief as this was what I had applied for – to push my thinking not for a 48 hour tool slam). Even when the mentors presented Google tools these were shared in 3 presentations through the lenses of community, curiosity and creativity.

The venue was amazing with all the Google expectations: a jungle room for relaxation, endless food, monorail cabin as an office, scooters and unicycles for travelling between offices, endless food, a games room, maker space and did I mention endless food?

Amy, Matt, myself and Suan in the Jungle Room image courtesy of Claire

Amy, Matt, myself and Suan in the Jungle Room image courtesy of Claire

Take your pick for moving between the buildings

Take your pick for moving between the buildings

But, the real highlight for me was the Design Thinking process we were lead through. Continue reading

An Awesome Day of Design Thinking

Tuesday proved to me just how much Design Thinking is the way I approach all aspects of school (and increasingly life) these days. In reflecting on what had happened this week I realised that Tuesday was an entire day of Design Thinking.

I started the day with my Hub completing the redesign of our space. Last week I had realised that things needed to improve with my Hub teaching so we had completed a SWOT analysis of our Hub and everyone had drawn how they would design our space to make it work for us. It was pretty clear from all the pictures that a common theme had emerged. So, away went our old space:

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And in came our new design:

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We have still kept the seating we like for Hub time – mainly ottomans and a few beanbags. But now we have got rid of any other form of seating, created a break out area and swapped the unused table that was a dumping ground for a low table that we can work on from our low seats. Early days but it has definitely created a better feel for us as a group.

After this was finished we Continue reading

What if Moonshot Thinking became common for our students?

This video is made by Google and is being used for one of the questions in the application for Google Teachers Academy Sydney. I love the message that this video brings of aiming for the tenfold improvements.

By aiming for such massive improvements, you have to start again and completely rethink how it could happen. It takes away the ability to just tinker around the edges as this will only bring minor improvements.

Imagine if this was a regular mode of thinking for our students. It tends to come natural to kids – how often do we dismiss their ideas as nonsensical, impossible to pull off?

What If Qs from Room 13 at Willow Park School

What If Qs from Room 13 at Willow Park School

What if we actually encouraged this type of thinking? I have written before about developing students natural curiosity. If this was nurtured, what could they achieve? If this ability actually grew throughout school, what impact could they eventually have on society? What if all that curiosity, creativity, innovation, moonshot thinking was unleashed on the issues facing the world today?

Perhaps those impossible, wicked problems would not be so wicked after all.

 

This post is Day 28 of My Questioning Quest.