Ranney Family Supports Professional Development in Design Thinking
Summer Training at the Nueva School Heightens Cross-Disciplinary, Cross-Divisional Initiatives
Since 2015, more than 20 Ranney administration and faculty members have had the opportunity to participate in professional Design Thinking training at the Nueva School’s Design Institute in San Mateo, California, thanks to a generous mulit-year investment by a Ranney family into our school’s professional development. Unfurling across our curriculum at every grade level, Design Thinking is an empathy-based approach to problem solving and experiential learning using creativity, data analysis, and prototyping. The student-centered approach connects the classroom with real-world challenges.
Teachers have explored this concept in-depth at the Nueva institute bringing back to campus a plethora of ideas for cross-disciplinary and cross-divisional instruction. Upper School Physics teacher Harry Neill who attended the training in 2018 shared:
I found the entire Nueva experience both exciting and challenging. Having taught for 35 years, I have constantly refined and redefined my lessons to better serve the children in my charge. I have attempted to stay current with all technology and to incorporate new educational trends that seem appropriate to physics. Feedback from students who have gone into engineering has generally been very positive in terms of the skill sets needed to succeed in some of the best engineering programs in the country. My teaching has focused on mastery of the more difficult physics topics through practice and through the use of very specific problem solving techniques. I have also focused on creating a love for the subject matter and skills that are the backbone of physics and engineering.
The Nueva School and the discipline of Design Thinking, have made me rethink my entire approach to my subject. We were shown many strategies to incorporate Design Thinking in our daily lessons and the challenge for me is to now incorporate these ideas in the daily routine, without sacrificing specific necessary content. Each day at Nueva, I came home with at least one strategy or idea that I believe can be implemented immediately. Perhaps my favorite was a team building exercise involving tennis balls, that taught each member how to work cooperatively in a group without an appointed leader and with minimal direction, only a specific outcome. I cannot wait to try this in class.
Overall I found it to be refreshing, new, exciting and forward thinking, as we prepare student for the very uncertain world that they will be entering. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity and I hope to share many of the ideas with my colleagues here at Ranney.