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.