The Glass Classroom Challenge

My last post described the idea of a classroom with glass walls as inspiration for teachers to make their learning more engaging, more empowering, as if an audience were coming to watch the learning take place. The idea was sparked by reading Hacking Education by Jennifer Gonzalez and Mark Barnes. I happened to be reading Tom Kelley’s The Art of Innovation at the same time. From these two books an idea was hatched.

What if we created a teaching competition around the Glass Classroom idea. It is a pretty rough idea at the moment, but one that I’m hoping others will latch on to and help build. In The Art of Innovation, Kelley writes about a local race, the Sand Hill Challenge, that required IDEO to put their design thinking process to the test against other local companies. It was all in good fun, with the money going to a local charity, and encouraged the group to innovate with playful passion and joy.

My hope is to spark that same playful passion and joy in teachers. Using the design thinking process that I learned this past week from the Henry Ford Learning Institute, I tried to frame this as a guiding question.

How might we create a teaching challenge that encourages the passion and joy we hope to see in the classroom?

As I learned about design thinking last week, this might not be the perfect question, so feel free to change the question if you see fit. My hope is simply to encourage teachers to think differently about their teaching, to collaborate with their colleagues, and to push the boundaries of a classroom.

Another way to consider this challenge, possibly from the competitor’s perspective would be:

How might we create a lesson or unit that is so engaging and empowering for learners that people would pay to watch?

Here are some of the barriers that need consideration:

  • Lessons could be live or virtual
  • How long should the lessons be?
  • Could it be combined with Edcamp or set up with a similar approach? Edcamp Glass?
  • We could create multiple categories – by age/grade level, topic/content area, tech-free vs tech full
  • Would there be actual students in the lesson? How do you incorporate students to judge if the work was engaging or empowering?
  • How do you judge objectively? Do you need to?
  • Should there be prizes? Voting? Could we find a way to benefit educational charities?

Obviously there would be a lot to work out, the idea has excited me for the past week and I’m hoping a few others might be intrigued, as well. If you are intrigued by this idea, if you have ideas how to make #GlassClass18 come to life, tweet them out.

With a little help from my son, and taking a page from sports video games naming their games a year in advance, we decided on #GlassClass18. I also figure it might take until 2018 to make this fully come to life. In order to get my son’s help, I had to use a Nascar analogy – explaining that the race teams have to make their cars and engines better every week to go faster.

His response: “Oh, this is like teachers making their brains better.”


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