One of my current focuses as of late has been in Middle School.  What is interesting about this is my undergrad work is rooted in Middle School (yet not sure if this is a widely know oddity).  In choosing a degree, my mother strongly suggested I pick teaching because when all my pipe dreams failed and I found myself stranded in the middle of nowhere, the teacher certificate would save me…. Yes, I realize by typing that I am revealing how I became a teacher.

What I have not told you is why I choose Middle School?  Well, one reason was the Dean of Middle School at The Abbey was a riot, engaging, and a bit off kilter. The 2nd reason was that of all the divisions to choose from, Primary, Elementary, MS, HS, I would find what I sought in my life day in and day out, for I fear the same old same old.  Of all the divisions, Middle School would provide me inconsistency, hourly/minute challenges, students in need of acknowledgment, drama, complex yet engaging PBL opportunities, and change out the wazoo… You see, I am a firm believer that the most important focus for students by teachers/schools in Middle School are the Emotional, Social, Physical, and intellectual areas of a student’s growth during these crucial years. In that order.  Yes, I meant the font size difference…

So how does all the above have anything to do with Yes, and?  Well, today in trying to gain understanding in our work with @ak12dc I had to dig a little deeper with some Users.  Conversations were needed but there was not an agenda or plan to get my Users to share with me… It just happened.   My d.TEAM’s focus is solving for this How Might We…

HMW…reimagine the MSAB space(s) to lean towards a more nurturing learner centered environment that inspires a culture of natural collaboration and flexibility to move.   

We’ve been prototyping, testing, collecting feedback, iterating, returning to Users, hitting reset etc for the last six-eight weeks.  We have been encouraged to put stakes in the ground and move forward but the d.TEAM has intentionally dragged their feet. Why?  Well, to be honest… it’s our User. Simple as that. As we LIVE prototype ideas/solutions, our Users provide us with so much insight and glimpses into their environment, we’ve had to go back into the DEEPdt process to learn and understand more.  I know, what a problem to have 🙂

Well, the Yes, And comes today.  In listening to the User (again), it was expressed, “I really, really want my students to have a comfortable, warm, and homey environment. Couches for them to enjoy while reading.”

Okay, let’s try that.

“But I need to have desks for all my students too.”

We have to work within the constraints.  The constraint is the the walls of the room do not expand.   We can have a Yes, And but not a Yes, Both. We must remove some of the desks to fit the couches.  A Yes, And is some student desks and a couple of couches.  Why can’t some students use the couches while others use the desks?  I bet if you asked your students (We had through previous needfinding for this challenge.) you will find that a majority of them prefer working anywhere other than a desk (especially the desks that are being offered).

“Hmm… I could do that.”

Work within your constraints. Let others inside of your constraints.  It is amazing how creative we can be.  It also let’s others share a different perspective (of course respecting yours in the process). It was an impactful, unexpected, and great change of a day in Middle School today… I think I will go back tomorrow.