A spring break full of connection and unity? Yes, please!

HFLI joined classroom educators, school leaders, artists, and change-makers for three days of brilliant learning at the Deeper Learning Conference San Diego. Inspired by this incredible group of people, we leaned into the power of the Deeper Learning Competencies to uplift all young people. 

Though this was HFLI’s fourth time attending the conference, it was the first time back together since the pandemic began. We learned, we danced, we even shed a few tears as educators from around the world shared their stories of power, change, heart-break and healing from the last few years. 

HFLI’s Executive Director, Deborah Parizek, and Learning Experience Designer, Jessica Stock, facilitated Inclusive Design for a More Equitable Learning Environment, a full day, Deep Dive Session that challenged and inspired educators to imagine a more equitable learning space for students and the learning community. Full of hands-on activities with plenty of time for discussion and reflection, participant learners grew their capacity for creative problem solving in an active, dynamic workshop.

The day was rooted in the metaphor of a journey. All learning is a journey, a journey that is never complete–especially our work toward a more equitable future. Thus, our Deep Dive Learners began by packing their suitcase–full of their identities. 

Our identities “travel” with us on every journey, so a critical first step is to pause and take stock of who we are and how our identities frame our learning experiences. After adding identities to their suitcase, learners used the Deeper Learning (DL) Competencies of Effective Communication and Collaboration to discuss how these identities create and influence their core values. Travel stickers, representing their values, were added to the outside of the suitcase. These identities and values became the center of the day’s work.

Our Deep Dive Learners also used the DL Competency Critical Thinking/Problem Solving in a co-creation process–Make, Tell, Enact. Building on the research of Liz Sanders (Ohio State University) HFLI asked everyone to let go of limitations and imagine a learning environment where the lived experience centered the values most important to them, as educators. 

Engaging in deep dialogue and thoughtful reflection, learners framed a vision for their future and built a physical representation of their ideas. 

One school leader challenged the very definition of a school building by asking, “What if all schools were outside, in the natural world?” Another educator imagined a future world where students decided the curriculum, leading a third teacher to proclaim, “What if the students built the school itself?” It was an energetic, imaginative segment that gave rise to big ideas and powerful creative thinking. 

Learners shared their work with their colleagues by enacting a “movie-trailer-type” skit. Student learning styles, curricula choice, values and inclusive practices were all centered in the learning spaces. 

In co-creating their imagined future, learners were able to see the possibilities for a more equitable learning environment–while also realizing that some ideas were actionable now. The Travel Guide activity helped learners to identify a piece of their co-created future to enact now and process steps to bring it into reality. One learner shared, “Loved that this session pushed me to think of how we can continue to move forward in our equity journey.” 

HFLI is excited to join DL Global for the Deeper Learning Twin Cities Conference in St. Paul, Minnesota June 2022. We hope you can join us there!

Join HFLI this summer for more workshop experiences. Visit: https://hfli.org/upcoming-workshop/

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