Quick report: Texas public schools are organized around large regions. Today I spent a day with the professional development support staff of ESC Region One, a huge area along the Texas-Mexico border representing about 40 districts and 450,000 students. There is a strong sense that education can really make a difference in the lives of students in this region, many of whom come from very underserved communities. The attendees at my all-day workshop are absolutely “in the choir”, recognizing that our schools need to change in order to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world. Once again, public or private, teacher or parent or student: we almost all focus on a similar set of skills, outcomes and peak learning conditions that we want to create in our schools.
We spent the morning focusing on a few critical elements of what I am now calling the “Stairway to School Innovation”, and the afternoon on a DEEPDT-influenced design thinking challenge. The teams walked out with a set of activities and conversations that they can have with their various client schools and districts. I think there is a good chance that within the next 6 months, we may have a number of districts (not schools, entire districts) buying into a process of design thinking-based innovation challenges. Stay tuned; I love the idea of building innovation capacity across a region with 450K students!