Earlier in the year, Godolphin and Latymer's Geography teacher, Miss Tallett-Williams, was one of 35 teachers selected worldwide to take part in Google’s prestigious Innovator Programme. Katie provided us with some fantastic insight into her interest in the project and what the Innovator Programme entails.
'All of the successful applicants completed the rigorous application process, which, in addition to a challenging question and answer form, required us to make a video explaining an educational problem we would like to use technology to solve. My educational problem relates to challenge of inner-city students like those at Godolphin and Latymer having access to outstanding fieldwork experiences. Limited time, money and resources available to teachers mean that students rarely get to visit locations with active glacial flow. As a result, their teachers have to help them imagine the ice movements that are important in shaping the landscape without the students actually being able to see them in person. I’m hoping to create a programme that will bring the ice back using virtual and augmented reality, helping students to see how the speed and depth affect the landforms created.
The formal start of the Innovator course was in mid-November with a three day extravaganza of teaching and learning in at Google’s Danish offices in Copenhagen. We were put in a small group “think tank” that would become our support team and inspirational partners for the work that we would do. We were also given a coach to guide and encourage us as we started out on our Google adventures. The three days were transformational - not just in devising ideas on how to solve the problem I faced, but it has also encouraged me to think about teaching in general and how to help my students to learn better. We used a “design thinking” approach where we were encouraged to “fail quickly and pivot”, “start small but dream big”, “iterate, ideate and innovate”. The course was a powerful mixture of inspirational talks, advice on our projects, time for feedback and reflection, and exciting team building work. The challenges were always short on time and high on pressure but the instructors and coaches showed us how time constraints help to build creativity rather than work against it.
For me, it was a radically new way to think about work. Failures were celebrated as opportunities to move in a new more successful direction, feedback always started “yes and…” rather than “no, but…”, and we were encouraged as participants always to assume the best, understanding that the person speaking to us was telling us hard truths because they wanted us to do better and learn more. To be successful we have to be brave, find a tribe who will support us and bring our best energy and enthusiasm, relentlessly falling in love with the problem and not the solution. I found all of these important aspects required for success on my three days away. I look forward to sharing many of the lessons learnt and new approaches to learning and creative thinking with my students in their lessons.'