Today I have broken the rules on purpose. I have chosen to wear clothes to work which do not meet with our usual guidelines. I did this simply as an initial step in the design thinking process, for my next project which is to re design classroom management practices in my school.
The fantastic thing about design thinking is that small, seemingly insignificant experiences can lead to great insight. The insight does not have to be supported by data, it is simply insight. It can spring completely from your intuition. Insight does not have to be global, it can be discrete and contained to a small part of your project. But it is still insight and it will still inform.
So I have a prediction for today, and that has given me insight. I thought ahead to what might happen through the day as I am wearing my jeans, my scuffed “designer” boots and a little bit of African jewellery. I thought I will be noticed. This gave me insight into one of the possible motivations for students to behave in a way that is counter to the culture set by others.
It sounds a little obvious, but my insight leads me to thinking that in order to shift the culture around classroom management practices, we need to acknowledge the right behaviour of students. We need to notice when students are behaving in productive, respectful and appropriate ways. Too often i suspect we set the rules and then simply expect students to follow them, with little encouragement and reinforcement Who do we notice? We notice those students that are challenging the system and the culture. One of the things that gets in the way of this acknowledgement of appropriate behaviours is the attitude that staff may have of “I’m not going to praise the behaviour that is simply what i expect, i’ll only praise that behaviour which goes above and beyond my expectations.”
Maybe the power of the design thinking is that the insight provides the motivation for action. Idea #1 for this project is for staff to start acknowledging those students that are behaving and learning in a manner that is consistent with our established expectations around student culture.