A few days ago I taught a Professional Development session for PBL teachers in the Napa Valley Unified School District. The topic: The Startup Classroom: How to Rock Your Classroom Like a True CEO.
The theory behind the topic: If we are teaching project-based learning in the classroom, wouldn't it make sense to look toward industry leaders and how they do business on a daily basis? The skills used in current project management in the tech industry, where startup companies reign supreme, include:
Having an Expert in the Field Makes All the Difference
The teachers who came to the training were really excited to have this information! They were grateful to have some systems and protocols that can help teach students to manage their projects, their time a and their work.
At the training, we brought in a real Scrum Master/Program Manager from a High Tech startup company (Leap Motion), Art Weisen, who added a whole other dimension to the conversation. He served to share his views on what works and doesn't work in industry, as well as provide the background as to why and how certain systems have been created and put into place. Interestingly, the next class in my series is on helping teachers to bring Industry experts into the classroom. There is huge value in bridging the gap between the world of education and the "world out there," for students and teachers alike. If we want students to truly be prepared for the 21st Century, we need to forge these sort of relationships on a regular basis.
Considering for Next Time
This was the first time offering this sort of subject matter to teachers, as I have only started implementing these ideas in the classroom over the last two years. I would like to be clearer with participants that, although we do an overview of Design Thinking, this is not a class on Design Thinking.
For many teachers, it might be the first time they are seeing the stages of Design Thinking, but covering the entire topic might take an entire session all on it's own. If there is expressed interest in going more in depth on the subject, I can certainly develop a separate curriculum for PBL teachers. I did provide a basic worksheet from the D School that helps a teacher see what the process of Design Thinking entails. It is simple enough for teachers to follow with their students and to adapt as needed. D School also offers incredible training classes for those educators who wish to pursue further training.
"You should consider offering this as PD to other teachers!"
It's perfect to hear this from an attendee at our very first offering of this sort. It took everything I had to not say, "Well, duh! That's the plan!" ;)
We truly have something wonderful in this class. When PBL was first created and implemented at New Technology High School twenty years ago, professional work environments where very different than they are today. It's time to take our cues from current work practices and find ways to adapt those practices into the classroom.
We get over 2,000 visitors to our school every year. As one visitor to my classroom said:
“Talking to Lisa's high school students as they explained their projects, I saw such clear passion, confidence, and command of their projects and processes: I could have been speaking to adults. The skills they’ve learned – like design thinking, project management, and creative thinking – are skills we rely on daily at Adobe. So I was incredibly impressed, and I’m thrilled thinking about what they’ll do next.”
– Tom Nguyen, Principal Product Manager, Adobe
This is the work I am most eager to continue in the world of education. These are just the first steps toward integrating startup company practices into PBL. As our work environments adapt, so too, our learning environments should be adapted so that we are best aligned with what students really need to know. PBL is innovative in and of itself, but must adapt as the world changes. I want to be a part of that adaptation.
Lisa Gottfried is a CTE teacher with 20 years experience as CEO of her own Video and Motion Graphics Production house. She currently teaches Intro to Digital Media, Video Production and Game/3D Design. She loves her job and her students!