Collab Lab 5 Recap


collablab5A warm thank you to the 20+ folks who braved the cold to join us last Thursday for a rather passionate discussion around engaging with community partners. As always, it is great to see the level of enthusiasm and thought attendees bring to the room and that so many of you were able to make new connections.


Notes from the session:

Why do you want to partner?

Real world validation of content and essential skills
Students get authentic experience
To teach what students can’t get from Google
Showcase what K12 does
Create a spark
Develop career related skills
Foster a symbiotic relationship with community
Change perception within the community
Establish an ongoing relationship
Stop brain drain from Milwaukee
Develop awareness of career options
Learning gets replaced
Offer a diverse set of experiences
Facilitate learning adaptability
Reconnect teachers with industry


Synergy-community-establish makerspace community of practice
Avoid training recruiting costs
Offer real world problems to students
Offer real world validation of kids’ work
Stimulate re-thinking education

What stands in your way?

Timeline perspective of business
Next quarter job needs
Focus is too narrow – What is success measurement
Focus on “doing” not “thinking”
Legislation – political views
School board control
Parent perception of learning
Knowledge of how to build relationships as a teacher
Constraints on teacher time/skills

How will you move forward?

Sharing – Community
Open your mindset
How do you redefine “Ready”
Begin in your own social circle
Building relationships
Ask “the customer”
Learning how to “let go”
Create showcase events for community
Have a plan for involvement
Allow them to help you with the plan

Pewaukee’s Insight program featured on WUWM’s Lake Effect

This morning’s Lake Effect show on WUWM features a piece on Pewaukee High School’s Insight program. We connected Rachel Morello, WUWM’s education reporter with JJ Hesche, who runs the Insight program as part of our efforts to raise the visibility of the innovative work Milwaukee area schools are doing.

You can listen to WUWM’s story here: http://wuwm.com/post/wednesday-lake-effect-suicide-awareness-insight-course-alices-tea-party-exhibit . The piece on Pewaukee starts at 16:00.

Doing great work at your school you’d like others to know about? Let us know and we’ll help get the word out.

Collab Lab 4 Report

Excited Teachers

We hosted over 30 excited education professionals from 10 Milwaukee area districts to connect during our fourth Collab Lab at Ward 4.

We invited these teachers to discuss whether and how their school districts create space to innovate on existing teaching/learning approaches.


Collab Lab Purpose

Milwaukee is missing a vibrant teacher community that stimulates and engages teachers in exploring ‘what’s possible’ to continue to evolve schools to prepare students for 21st century life and work. We’re doing something about that and the starting point is getting those in education to share and hear what works.

We hear that these gatherings are valued for several reasons:

  • Provides a chance for community building among innovation-hungry teachers
  • Provides an opportunity to develop a stronger innovation-oriented mindset and ‘can-do’ attitude
  • Offers participants a tangible, practical, start-this-tomorrow process for doing innovation in their schools

What was the challenge?

We thought we needed to give attendees an opportunity to learn from each other how they are finding ways to start innovating. And if those initiatives are not happening, what are teachers indicating that is standing in the way of that. We asked them to reflect on three simple questions:

  • What is your big innovation dream (What gets you excited in this regard)?
  • What are the things currently standing in your way?
  • How can you start anyway?

To bring in some diverse perspectives on how professionals in other settings approach the challenge of innovation, we invited the following individuals:

It turns out that many have the same challenge: It is easy to come up with 10 – 20 reasons why your project could fail, or not even get off the ground. It is much more difficult to imagine (and think through) how you could get started anyway.

The challenge seems to be 2-fold: anticipation of not getting approval and inability to break the idea down into (much) smaller pieces that could get done ‘under the radar’.

The numbers

We assembled 30+ curious education professionals (teachers, administrators and others) for this second discussion evening of the 2016-2017 season. About 40 % of our attendees returned after a previous Collab Lab, the remainder were curious after speaking with colleagues that had attended.

This is a unique opportunity for those teachers itching for an opportunity to connect with others in the Milwaukee area to share and learn what colleagues are doing.

The districts and organizations represented in Collab Lab 4.

Chart of attendance at CL 4 eventchart of attendee categories for CL4


What’s next?

We are hosting 5 more opportunities to connect with others and build new ties with likeminded teachers this school year. The next opportunity to share what you are up to, or what your dream innovation could look like, is on December 15. We’ll be especially focused on why (and why not) schools could embrace building closer relationships with both local companies as well as non-profits with a mission in education and youth.

For a full schedule for this season and topic, please refer to our Connecting Calendar page.

Curious about the ‘What’s next?’

Once you and your colleagues have experienced the engagement of people attending our Collab Lab, you may want to see if a project is feasible at your school or district.

Learn Deep provides coaching and professional development for teachers excited about tackling their own innovation project. Through our facilitation of the project, we introduce the latest processes used by startups and corporate innovation teams, based on systems thinking and design approaches. These focus on problem identification and solution development in a fast, incremental manner. Initiatives using this approach are much lower cost and lower risk, while methodically collecting evidence to obtain buying for scaling projects for a larger audience.

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