Sonoma County Office of Education

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SCOE launches pioneering teachers' collaboration with renowned design thinking firm

10/28/2015 - About 200 Sonoma County educators convened at the DeTurk Round Barn in Santa Rosa on Tuesday evening, October 27 for a first-of-its kind event. It was the launch of a pioneering collaboration between SCOE and The Teachers Guild, a new arm of the renowned design thinking firm IDEO.

Teachers Guild


The idea driving the collaboration is to re-imagine professional development using those who know best: Sonoma County’s most innovative teachers. To honor those teachers for the work they do and break the mold of the traditional type of teaching partnership, Tuesday's event, sponsored by One Workplace, featured wine donated from local companies, cheese and live music. Organizers invited teachers to kick-start the conversation by pondering the question, "I know I'm learning when..." and post their answers in colorful sticky notes. Answers included, "I struggle...I pause...I have to rethink..." and "I know I'm learning when I want to share it with a friend" and "I'm feeling inspired to do more."

Mickey Porter, deputy superintendent in charge of Educational Support Services, welcomed the teachers, who she described as "the cream of the crop of Sonoma County teachers." She went on to say that the effort, organized by SCOE's Sarah Lundy and Dan Blake, was meant to solicit new ideas from teachers, not provide ready-made answers. "Throughout this entire project together, we're not coming together to get THE answer," she said. "We're coming together to hear voices and we're coming together to hear from a variety of people within our county, 'What could professional development be?'"

The Teachers Guild is an initiative run by IDEO’s Learning Studio and Riverdale Country School’s Delta Group that aims to solve 30 of the most complex education challenges in the next three years. It’s a professional community for teachers who are daring to design better solutions for our students, schools, and the greater system every day. Teachers collaborate and learn while they are designing better solutions together. Specifically, they connect with like-minded peers, share inspirations, make each other’s ideas better, and experiment with new solutions.

Staff from The Teachers Guild expressed great excitement about the opportunity to expand their efforts in collaboration with SCOE.

"Professional development is a question that really matters to teachers. We have heard from teachers that they seek creative learning opportunities that both inspire and help them adapt to the changing needs of their students,” said Molly McMahon, Program Lead at IDEO/The Teachers Guild. “That's why we are excited to be partnering with the Sonoma County Office of Education and inviting teachers to design the learning opportunities that they want so they can truly own their professional journey."

The partnership with SCOE is just the third Teachers Guild collaboration and the first with a county office of education. From November through January, SCOE will be collaborating with the IDEO Teachers Guild as well as AutoDesk, Inc. and One Workplace to ask Sonoma County teachers how they might re-imagine professional learning in K-12 education to provide teachers meaningful growth experiences that invigorate their classrooms.

Check back for more news on this collaborative as it unfolds.

Learn more at scoe.org/guild