Thursday, February 5, 2015

Partnerships Within and Beyond School Walls

Partnerships both within school walls and out in the community can make learning come alive. Whether partnerships are formed when teachers come together from different disciplines around project based learning or students come together from multiple grade levels, collaboration becomes a powerful practice. Partnerships form a learning ecosystem for students where their knowledge and skills learned in the classroom can reach new heights. Furthermore, partnerships are a key element to enrich the use of design thinking challenges where students can leverage their strengths, pursue personalized learning paths and make connections. 

At my school one of our first partnerships came with working with the LUMA Institute where teachers and myself attended courses to become design thinking practitioners. We came back and trained others and now 75% percent of our faculty have received training. We supplement with the awesome methods and tools from the Stanford d.School as well. 

Partnerships can be challenging to manage, integrate into curriculum in a purposeful and powerful way and sustain. Planning and developing a strategy about how partnerships will be leveraged in your school and who will help support and manage them is a good first step. Making sure the schedule supports robust partnership work and funds are available for transportation and travel is also important. 

At Ellis we define partnerships as being mutually beneficial for the school, teachers, students and the partner organization. Several of our students have learned core content skills in much more active and engaged ways in STEM courses through product and service design for our partners. In the humanities, students have become archivists, anthropologists and digital media designers. We currently have close to thirty partnerships out in the community but also across the globe. Technology affords the opportunity to connect with schools in Rio, Uganda and Haiti. Locally we also have students doing externships all across the city as a part of their curricular experience. 

Learn more about partnerships at my school in this screencast that summarizes two presentations from this past fall. 


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