Design Studio for Equity and Inclusion Seattle, Wa - 2019
How might we create an opportunity for teams of educators from schools all over the Pacific Northwest to come together for a day to put their equity and inclusion goals to work?
For one day in the spring of 2019, Leadership + Design and the Northwest Association of Independent Schools partnered with Charles Wright Academy to host a one-day opportunity aimed at teams who wanted to put their goals into action.
Over 65 educators from all over the Pacific Northwest spent the day designing with each other and building prototypes for action back in their schools. Designing for equity or inclusion can be particularly hard because schools recognize they are building on top of systems and structures that have created issues of equity and inclusion. One tool that was used: The Five Why's helped schools target the root issues they wanted to solve for. This tool helps schools take surface problems and understand what is at their root.
Here is an example of how this tool works.
Presenting Problem: Faculty are acting complacent in the area of equity and inclusion even though they say they are invested in the work.
Why #1: (Why is the presenting problem happening?) Answer = Faculty have so much to do that they treat equity and inclusion initiatives as another thing on their list, and when they get to it, they are happy, but they often don't get to it.
Why #2: Answer = Faculty lack an undestanding of the priorities in school, and they prioritize based on what feels doable. Equity work and inclusion work often feels ambiguous and hard, and therefore doesn't make it through the doable filter.
Why #3: Answer = Equity and Inclusion work is complicated and the initiatives are not broken down into smaller chunks.
Why #4: Answer = Breaking the work down into smaller chunks can be contentious and hard because it exposes the underlying values that people have and this type of work feels so personal.
Why #5: Answer = Because equity and inclusion is about validating experiences and narratives that have been systemically suppressed.
Insights gleaned from this exercise: This school needed to design for clearly articulating the history of the school and the narratives that both sustain the school and have been suppressed in society.
This school took the afternoon to build prototypes for a professional development day where they re-connected with the founding values and principles that birthed the school in the first place. This school was formed to change this narrative, and they recognized that they had regressed to the mean and needed a shot of values and principles. Three months later, this PD day happened, and the Head of School reported that it was a huge success.
This is exactly what we hoped would happen, we wanted folks to build their ideas and put them into action.
Experience Designers: Ryan Burke, Tesha Poe, Dori King