The Learning Leader Lab

Laura McBain

November 16, 2022 David Culberhouse Season 1 Episode 1
The Learning Leader Lab
Laura McBain
Show Notes Transcript

Laura is the K12 Lab Director of Community and Implementation at the Stanford University D.School.

Music by QubeSounds from Pixabay - Rock Beat Trailer


Laura  00:00

We as educators are constantly designing all the time. We may not use that language we might not say I embedded a design thinking process, but it's kind of almost impossible for educators not to engage in the process of design. Because design basically requires you to think about how I create a new learning experience, right, which is focused on prototyping and iteration.


David  00:37

Hello, and welcome to the Learning Leader Lab, brought to you by San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools and I'm your host, David Culberhouse. If you are looking for conversations around innovative change leadership, or complex and exponentially changing times in education than you have definitely come to the right place. We want to welcome you to this episode as we talk with leaders inside and outside of our county and the important work that they're doing. And so with that, let's get started. I'm incredibly excited for today's conversation with Lauren McBain who is with the Stanford d school and as a K 12, Lab Director of Community and Implementation. I was on the website a little bit ago. And I love the quote that she adds to our space on the Stanford d school site says "unleash educators to change the world designer of experiences, systems thinking and social justice advocate. Incredible. Laura has an incredible mind. It is truly my honor and pleasure to be able to talk with her today. And I don't know if you want to add anything to that, Laura.


Laura  01:52

Yeah, I mean, well, that's Wow, thank you. It's always fun when you're like, oh, yeah, I wrote that. Thing that remember that? Um, no, I think one thing to say, and I think it's really important is that, you know, I have been a lifelong teacher, you know, I started my career in San Diego, at a public comprehensive high school, taught there, five years down there. And then I moved and helped open. Well, now like lots of schools, but developed was the founding teacher of a charter school called High Tech High and then served as a principal of a middle school as a middle school principal, as well as a high school principal within that network. And so I think one of the things that, you know, I think really grounds me, is always like, I think one of the challenges that we're facing is there's a lot of innovation in the world, like, there's tons of stuff, and how do we meet people where they are? How do we like, create experiences and innovations and ideas that people can take and do something tomorrow, that really fits well within their context. And so, you know, all the things that I that I have on my bat are great. And I think so much of what I tried to do or aspire to do, is really create resources, tools, experiences, that allow people to take something and use it right away.



That's incredible. And I don't know if you remember, because I know, we I think we had a joke the other day that I talked to you more now that you're in Northern California than when you were down here in Southern California. But I don't know if you remember, I sat in on one of your sessions at design camp quite a few years ago. And so her work is incredible. And so, and going on with that you're also going to be one of our featured speakers at CISC in February. So we're looking forward to that, too. So let's just jump right in. So I know you've done tremendous work in regard to design, design thinking and applying design abilities for educators over the years. Can you describe the evolution of design and education just from how you see it? And then also, can you describe what it means to be an educational designer and where you think that design is heading towards or evolving in education? I know it's a lot there. But I I know, yeah, run with this.



That's, I mean, those are all a really good questions. I mean, I think, you know, I mean, to to get kind of, I mean, I think there's a couple of places to start, right, which is really thinking about, you know, where design has been and where is it going? I mean, I think one of the easiest ways to think about design, you know, as an educator is like we as educators are constantly designing all the time. We may not use that language, we might not say I embedded a design thinking process, but it's kind of almost impossible for educators not to engage in the process of design, because design basically requires you to think about how I desi, create learning experience, right, which is focused on prototyping and iteration. If you have ever taught in a classroom where you have to teach the same subject, like three periods in a row, I don't know if you all done that I'm sure you have, you get really good at prototyping and iteration. Because whatever you did in first period looks radically different than what you did in third period. Because the whole time you're testing, right, you're prototyping, well, that didn't work that didn't work, and you're taking data in. So educators, I think, are actually really poised more than anyone else to be designers. Because we are always in the process of listening to our students, because we get real time feedback, which we could call empathy, or learning with people are constantly in the process of like designing a new worksheet, designing a new experience designing a new test, we're always doing that. And then I think the last thing that we're always doing is like sharing this work out in the world, we constantly have to think about, like, how does it land? How do we get better at it. And so I think, you know, whether we get into the technical pieces of what design thinking is, getting into the design abilities, I think that educators right, are really poised really well, to be designers. Because we constantly you're getting feedback from our young people, we're consecrating new things. And we're really trying to improve our practice, right? So I think educators are designers, we naturally do whether it's creating a classroom environment, using the chairs, the walls, you name it, you know, creating a test, creating experience, that is the process of creating something new that did not exist before. Bottom line. And I think what's happened in the last, you know, 15-20 years is that design thinking the process of design thinking is really, you know, gone viral, for lack of a better word, like we've seen it emerge from like a simple process to now it's used, you know, in every domain, it seems like nowadays, whether it's fortune 500, companies, it's in schools, it's in social sector, everyone is like using design to find innovation. And so what I find is interesting to me, is the proliferation of design has really, I think, you know, spiraled in the last 15 years, and I have, like, I guess two answers for where I think this is going and where it's not going, I guess. I think one is that in the best possible way, design has proliferated. But design is never the silver bullet answer, just like project based learning is not the silver bullet answer, just like learner, etc. Education is not the bolt, you know, the perfect answer. What design ultimately does for you, and I think many of these pedagogy is to is help you uncover what is going to work best for your students for your context. And so I think it'll be nascent for me to say that, like, Oh, if you just do design thinking, you'll get everything right. I'm like, No, the process of design is actually to find the right things. And I think partly where I think people get confused when they're thinking about design thinking or design is that they did a project with their students, you know, whether it's a wallet challenge, or a chair challenge, or whatever challenge it is, and they did a design thinking project in their classroom, which is good. But that's also very different than the process of how am I approach engagement in my classroom in new and radical ways. Right, that's a process designed to improve something that's in my practice. And so I think, I mean, this is just a roundabout way as you give me like, you know, fluidity to do this. But I think where we need to go as designers is like, move beyond the small challenges, but embed design postures and our practices and our structures and our systems. That is where I think the power of design truly has is, yes, we should be doing good projects with our young people that let them do really cool challenges and address challenges in our community. And we as designers, as educators, or educators, as designers, really do need to spend the time noticing, what's working, what's not working, and giving our space giving our time and space and PD to think about what we might do differently. And that's where design can play a role in not just helping young people be designers, but really using design to really radically change the education system.


David  09:14

Wow, I just love that answer. And as you were talking and brought back to me, all my years of teaching middle school, because you know, when you drop it in first period, and that lesson plan goes out by sixth period, it could be something completely different. And so it was always iterating and always changing. And so


Laura  09:37

it's very true. Yeah. And I think we did it by default. You did it because you're noticing and you're seeing and I think that's the thing. I think educators like we are constantly doing this work and we may have not called it design thinking at the time, right? We would have said I gotta get that lesson better. But I think the posture of just like noticing that that work that didn't, how do I get it better than next time or the next period? that radical bias toward experimentation that happens between first and fifth period. That is the process of doing design. That's a part of the process of doing design. And so like getting more more comfortable with that, and reminding ourselves that we kind of do this already, but how do we actually shine a light on it? How do we improve other practices around design, within our, within our work.


David  10:24

And what I really love about that is that whole, even though you didn't say you brought out that whole empathy side, because you're really watching what's happening in iterating, to support that engagement for your students, which is incredibly important. And then, and the other thing that I love that you were talking about is that, you know, you do work at Stanford design school, and, and I know that, you know, deep in what you do, but it's the thing that I really love, what you're speaking about there is that there is no silver bullet, you know, it's yeah, it's understanding that, you know, systems thinking integrates into this, you know, and we're gonna get into this a little bit about, you know, futures literacy and things like that. Because when you're able to look, look at improvement, when you're able to look at, you know, how you're implementing, and all those different things they integrate in a way to actually build something that's better. And, and I love how you brought that out. And because a lot of times, you know, you hear that, you know, we're a design school or where we're about improvement science, but it's when you start to see how those things integrate together, I think you actually build something that is, is better.



Yeah, I mean, that's the hope. Right, that is the hope. And I think, you know, for all of us who've lived, you know, for the last number of years, we have to design something better. Right, that that is I think, if anything, you know, for all of us who've been working with schools and in schools for the last, you know, I would say two decades, but as well as, particularly in these last couple years, like there is no clear call to action right now than like reimagining the face of learning within schools. And, you know, within our communities like we have been, it has been noted in every, every community, every place on the planet that like what we're doing right now is not working, it might be working for some, but it's not working for everybody. And that is that is true across the globe. And we've been the pandemic has spotlighted this right. And so, we really have to, we cannot get you know, just because we can go back in person, you know, and use the same systems and structures that we did before the pandemic taught us that those systems unnecessary work, particularly the folks who have been underserved or historically under invested within our communities. And so, you know, we can't we have to, like have a real focus on like, what didn't work? How do we get better? How do we ensure that every student right has access, it's not something to the graphs, do the gaps and the gaps, and then like, ensuring that everyone really is equipped to kind of shape the future as they see it? And so that is, you know, for all of us now, that is the call to action? Like, I don't know what other question, we need to be asking ourselves beyond that.


David  13:22

And that's what I really love about this podcast, because it gives us a chance to bring voices in, like you to really discuss, you know, cuz I really feel imagination is a strategic resource. And we're gonna see new possibilities, we really have to dig into that. And so this is something that I really love. And and I know it's some of the work that you have been engaged in around. And you've, you've even written articles about it that you can find on medium, it says the need for educators to be futurists. And there's this focus on the responsibility for educators to support how we're shaping our collective futures. And the thing I love about that is is plural. It's not just one future that we're heading towards, that there's a variety of futures emerging at any time. Can you kind of take us a little bit into that work you are doing around that futurists literacy and educators as futurists, and and engaging in that type of thinking?



Yeah, I mean, I think you know, that, you know, it's we all kind of like write things, you know, before so, my colleague Lisa Kay Solomon, who is a futurist, she is the futures in residence at the D school has been a longtime few futurist for 20 years. You know, I will say, she and I started having conversations. I will say in February of, I think it was February, March, January, February of 2020. We actually launched we did a Futures Fest at the D school in January of 2020. Called futures fest, and we started to play With this, this concept of how might we help educators move beyond this concept of being merely prepared for the future, but with with, equipped with like the skills and capacities to really shape the future that they want to bring to life? That was the question that we asked in January 2020. Fast forward two months later, here we are at this massive pandemic, that we're, you know, that we all experienced. And it really brought to light this group question for us, you know, within the K 12 lab with also within the d school of like, how do we get better at sensemaking at seeing signals, but actually seeing the future. And so what we spent, you know, the last two or three years on is actually creating frameworks and practices for educators to become futurists, which means to actually practice the skills of what futurists do. Now, there are a futurist, I would say, in many ivory towers, there are futurist companies who spend time thinking about like how the future will unfold. That is like jobs that people have across the globe. And educators, I was struck by so many conferences I went to, it was here are the skills that every young person must have, which were essentially like a list of predictive skills, not to say that they wouldn't be needed, but it was always there always chambers, to some extent they were highlight as like reactionary. Like, here's the future that your young people may have, you need to get ready for it. They need to get them for it, get them ready for these jobs. The irony of that moment, though, whenever I saw this, I was like, but you the the future is naturally unfolding as we go. So how do I just move from as an educator merely getting young people ready for the job to be think might predict, but actually giving them the skills to actually see the future and that for us, that looks like a framework that's around cultivating empathy for the future future. It's this this capacity of seeing in multiples, which is what you highlighted, like multiple futures, it is the capacity to like start to envision visions of coexistence. It's the practice of world building. And it's this practice of tracing change over time. So we are developing these like different frameworks, because we believe those skills or practices that you're calling literacies, are important for young people to really think about how they actually can live in a world where they can start seeing how the future will unfold. So that they have the opportunity to start shaping the careers, the jobs that might exist in the future. And so that's kind of where this work came from, I will say, actually, it was a real need. And it's not surprising, we all got hit with a pandemic, as well. And so we spent a lot of time at the D school in scenario planning, thinking about lots of possible futures of how the next six months next year might unfold. And we that for us was a grounding moment to realize that actually, one of the key thing that we need to get better at is sensemaking, of noticing signals of contextual intelligence of seeing what's happening our communities and being able to respond or be able to shape it in such a way as we're not just an urgency, responsive mode, but actually like looking far ahead, to what how things might evolve so that we don't just become, as my colleague likes to Lisa likes to say like, we don't want the future to happen to us. So how do we get better at noticing how these trends unfold, so we can start seeing the possibilities and actually have the capacity to shape it. So that's where this work started from.



And I really appreciate that. Because I think sometimes when you hear the futurist you think a crystal ball work. And yeah, and what people don't understand is is really not about predicting the future is really like looking at those signals on the horizon, and having foresight and then it's also very rigorous. You know, you're really going deep on, you know, how are these things going to affect our organization? How are these things going to affect our students? One of the things that I appreciate a futurist out of UNESCO Real Miller talks about is that it's helping people anticipate the future. That's right. And I think what's really important about that right now is and especially having two of my own sons is that it's it's very difficult to anticipate the future right now, because it feels so uncertain. And, and it's hard to see that light at the end of the tunnel and where do I see myself in the future? And that's what I've really loved about your work. Is there is there any other things that you've been doing around this I ended scenario planning stuff is so important in helping people see that, you know, the you know, it could be utopian, it could be dystopian, or it could work out in different ways.



Well, yeah. So thanks for the question. I mean, one of the things that we're launching right now is actually a fellowship. So we're launching two different fellowship tracks, with some regions around the country, to help educators, you know, build their capacities as teachers, and a set of educators we're working with is superintendents, like yourself, system level leaders, and we're using future is to take a new approach on on kind of addressing or approaching what I would consider system level issues or challenges that are yet to be figured out. So for example, we worked with the University of Pennsylvania, and we worked with about, I would say, probably about 80 superintendents or so. And we brought them together. And we applied some of this futures thinking kind of a zone of possibilities to the cone of possibilities. But we looked at the trend around the teacher pipeline issue, and in particular, the teacher shortage, which is an area that I imagine you all are probably being impacted by right now. And most counties are right now, which is like, there's not enough teachers, we're seeing that, you know, we're seeing a massive rise of resignation, we're seeing a low numbers, and this is an issue that's been brewing for a while. And so what we did was we work with the superintendents to start thinking through what are other possible ways to think about how we might address this issue that continues to be starting to unfold in front of us without being using the same solutions, which is we need to just hire more subs, we need to get more people into programs, like we need to radically think about differently, what is the role of the teacher? Can we actually move from, you know, what we've normally done in the past? Or really start reimagining? What does a flex teacher really look like? What are the needs? Can we start thinking globally? What are the wild possibilities in this mode that we can start doing thinking about so that we can get to a different solution space? And so we were recently doing that, we're also working with educators to help them bring the frameworks I mentioned, into their classrooms. And then we're going to be launching some community webinars so people can think about kind of the futures of civics, the future of biotech, if you will, so that people can see where are these fields going? So that we can not just address I would say, the urgent issues that we face and new and kind of bold ways, but then also start getting better at seeing how, how trends are changing, and how we can see them right now. You know, I would right now, I mean, if I were a superintendent, I will be looking at the roll their AI right now, like how is that going to unfold in my district and the next 15 years? Yeah, I would be looking at that, like that is a thing. And we see it changing radically every single day. I was on Dali this morning, creating AI art for our presentation. And so like, that's the thing. And so how are we even beginning to start thinking about these issues? And how they're going to show up in our classrooms? And how do we get better at shaping that and not just reacting to it? You know, which is often I feel like my case is pretty good as a principle, we're so in reactionary mode sometimes because we have to be, but how do we get ahead of things so that we can actually see, you know, how these trends are changing, and how we choose to respond to them, not just reacting to it?


David  23:36

It's just a follow up question on that, when you started digging into the work with educators and superintendents, there's a bit of a language with it. And there's a different feel, especially coming out of education. Was it a slow start? Or were people able to grab on to it and see where it was going? Or did it take a little bit of work? To really open up into it?



You know, I think it took obviously, it took a little bit of work, and we kept messing with it, you know, iterating, if you will, on our framework, I think I think that one of the things that we noticed again, during the pandemic is that there was such a need to really think in multiples to imagine differently about how we even approach the school year. And we're seeing right now such a proliferation of futures showing up in K 12. I'm seeing it like people are starting programs that are embedding futures thinking that's like, I'm not the only one now. It's just really interesting to me. So people are getting more adapted, adapted to it or more kind of custom or are seeing it more and more. I think the biggest thing was really interesting is like, as people realize the challenges that were happening their community, they saw the need for it. I'll give you an example is you know, we worked over during the during the height of the pandemic, between the end of 2020 and the start of that 2021 school year. And we work with 36 school districts around the world. And we spent time thinking about schedules. And we started looking at like, what are the factors that need to impact the school schedule? And it wasn't like it wasn't about the content, we were looking at what are the economic forces in our community? That are that impact the schedule? What are the health factors that are impacting the community? What are the social emotional needs of our community? So that we saw our schools ended up creating, like multiple scenarios of schedules. So that they, as they notice, economic forces changing as they notice health issues, changing, they actually were not coming up with something? And like, they it wasn't like they were sitting on something in real time, like, here it is, they actually had gone through the thinking process of like, if this rolls this way, how might we we respond with this? If it goes this way? How might we think about that? And so that level of I would say, need became, I would say, the urgent thing for superintendents and districts to really like, oh, I need this. I don't know what it is. But I think I need this because I'm not ready to face the school year yet. And I don't think that need is going away. You know, as you already said that the the years that we were facing right now, it's pretty unpredictable. And so I think part of what futures does, is that I think it allows us to map the uncertainty, but also create lots of pathways for how the future might unfold, which, if you're a superintendent, or if you're a principal, or even if you're a teacher, it allows you to lessen your anxiety about how it's going to happen, because you actually can envision what's possible, not because you can predict it, but it gives you like, Oh, if this happens, I actually have the tools to face it.


David  26:55

And I really appreciate that flexibility to not only adapt, but to understand that you might have to pivot, because you don't know what's coming. And that's so important. And it also even goes back to the quote that you did at the beginning, from from the website, that I that I read was that when you add that, that plural to future, it becomes an understanding that everyone actually has a different idea of how the future is emerging. And that understanding allows more marginalized marginalized voices to enter the conversation and and it allows you to see what's emerging across your system, which is incredibly important. And it's the fun thing, you know, especially for for me today is just hearing the work that you're doing. And not only that it's different, but that is really having an impact on how we start to look at the future. I'd like to go into, I have a couple more questions for you. I know that one of the things that you you mentioned, and not sure if you want to get into this, but you would discuss it, you are actually digging into some new work with your colleagues at the Stanford d school, or you're exploring some new work. Is there anything out there that would be interesting that you could share?


Laura  28:22

Yeah, so you know, we're Yeah, we're kind of always, you know, I think like anybody else, we're in this process of reimagination. Just like schools, the D school is a school. And so, you know, we are in the process of, you know, I think probably both of you, when you first interacted with the D school, we were like this institute on campus where you like, cannot get a degree, but you can take a lot of classes if you're a Stanford student, or come and take a course. And as of this year, you know, we actually are running master's programs and undergrad degrees, we actually give degrees, which is brand new for the school. And so, which is exciting. And that requires some shifting, you know, at the organization level, to really imagine how do we provide, you know, innovative and consistent learning experiences for the undergrads and the master students. So for us, that really has taken on a lot of different new explorations is what they're calling them. And one area we're looking at is like, what is the future of design? You know, as you early as we talked about design is changing. And so what is the role of design as we think about space? What is the role of design as we think about climate justice? What are the new sectors, or new areas that we need to uncover around where design is going? That's an exploration that we're that we're literally in the midst of, and we don't have answers yet. But we're asking the questions about what's possible. Another area that we're looking at, which I think is really important, and speaks to some of my interest and passion, is how do we activate communities in such a way where they can leverage designs to address some of the challenges they're facing, and so We actually have one of my colleagues is literally undertaking massive amounts of empathy work to really think about how do we activate communities in new and different ways, like that's undergoing right now. And then the last one that I think is really fun that we're also embarking on is really looking at massive impact projects. Right now we've got a project working on elections, and particularly healthy elections. Because, you know, that's definitely an important aspect of the planet we live in and the democracy that we live in. And so we're taking on these really juicy topics right now. And some of them might be on elections, others might be on reparations, or climate justice. But the d school is like embarking on like a new wave of design work is how do we really take on some of these bigger system issues? And how can we use design to propel solutions toward addressing some of these, you know, big issues that we're just not yet to solving, but are really important to the planet?


David  31:04

First of all, not only does that sound incredible, I think the thing that I love the most at the very beginning of of as you started describing, the work that you're in is that you don't start with answers, you started with questions, and then you create this space to grapple, which a lot of times in organizations can be difficult, because we often start with the answers before we start with the deep questions. And in that place where you grapples where that capacity is built. But yeah, it's, it's really incredible to hear some of the impactful work that you're doing, not only in one space, but in so many different spaces, and sets,



right? I mean, that's part of my new role is also as one of the managing directors is helping people grapple, and it's, and it's a tough one, I'm not gonna lie, like this hard, you know, as we grow is uncertainty. And there's only so much uncertainty we all can handle and so much ambiguity, right now that we all can handle. And yet, like in order to get to, I would say, a new pathway forward, you have to give yourself and your team everyone space to explore and wrestle, as you said, without defining the solution. And that is really hard to do. Because I think our tendency, and I will say for all of us who sit in leadership, is the tendency or the reason we feel this responsibility to give the answer or the right answer, and give the solution because that lowers anxiety, it lets people feel like they're being led, like there's a problem you're solving. That's a really, it's an interesting space to be in, where, I think most folks want to see, let me know the solution. So I can see how it goes. And as a designer, also knowing that if I actually predict the solution, I will never get to like the innovative answers. And so that's the really tough space, there's a spectrum there, right of like, so part of like, I think, for me, and for all of us to do this work is like really leaning into the fact that like, we don't know the answers, we're going to start with questions, there's going to be a lot of wrestling, and it's okay, that is the learning that we're going through. And at the same time providing psychological safety as we go through that. Right. And so like, there's, they're both important. But I do think that like, especially in our education field like this is we're trying to we have a real rough thing right now. I think there's a lot of folks, we're trying to figure out the silver bullet solutions. And I think it would be easy for you on all of us on this call to say everyone should do design. And if you do that, you'll find the right thing. And like Yeah, I think you and I both know that like that might not get you where you want to go. And so you we really do have to be open to like what are the pathways, what is the learning that we need to undertake, and really starting with these questions, and really giving ourselves not just to explore them to prototype to experiment with them to hunch to them because unless we do that, we're just going to come up with the same stuff we did before.



So true in a really appreciated how you talked about, you know, for me, I see it as two C's, you talked about the compassion side and the capacity side. I think there are two sides of the same coin. You have to have that safety and and what I would call you know, below the green line, the psychological safety and all those things that are needed to do that work. But it's also about building capacity. And I think that's become really hard because people float out of COVID very tired. And yeah, and grappling when you're tired is not the easiest thing or the thing that people necessarily want to do. Sometimes it's very much just tell me what you want me to do. And I can move on because I am I'm tired, I'm overwhelmed. So yeah, incredible work in difficult work. So thank you for sharing that.


Laura  35:06

Yeah, that's right. Yeah, it's definitely I mean, we're all sitting in that mode. And I think that's it. And I think and I, again, there's no right or wrong there, right. It's a spectrum of just like continuing to iterate on both of, you know, as you said, compassion and capacity to move forward. And I think that, it's really good to have both. And I think we, as leaders have to know when to really push, you know, when to slow down, and when to speed up. And that's the sense making, I think, and going back to our conversation about what I would call, like, our future stuff, like, that's the sensemaking are building our contextual intelligence about how ideas are landing within our community. Because, you know, I spend a lot of my time, you know, talking to folks, you know, I'm brilliant, but I think a really fun innovative ideas. And, like, I also am super aware that like, not everything is urgent. And we do have to make space for people to wrestle like you and I, as educators are like, Oh, my God, let's do an AI thing in the classroom tomorrow, like, we think that's really interesting, could be really fun. And, like, it's okay to go slow. And I think that's one of the like, I think there's a misnomer, actually, around design, that design is like this quick, rapid process. And I think if there's one learning, you know, David, you had asked me like, five years ago, like what I thought of design, then what I saw design now, like, I definitely, I think one of the things that we as educators have to remember that design is not a rapid process. Yes, we do a quick design sprint, yes, you can come up with ideas quickly. But the process of actually doing, I would say system level organizational design work, or even product design takes time. It's so and it's okay to give it some time, you know, we don't have to rush to something. And I think when you don't rush to the solution, it gives you the time to not just like a come up with other ideas, but then also start to evaluate the impact of the work that you're creating, which I think is almost more important.


David  37:05

And I love that, and also seeing the you know, what's emerging, I think sometimes we get moving so fast, we don't really see things that are emerging in the system that are really important.



That's right. That's right. No, that's so true. And I think that's where the space is. And it's, it's following those threads that allow us to, like, create something interesting and new and like it's okay to so I mean, one thing that I think I feel like is, you know, as meant to be, you know, said I think at the D school is that like, we spent a lot of time in experiments, like trying something new learning experience, whatever, like you try an idea. It doesn't mean that idea actually becomes the next program, or it becomes you actually it's okay to stop and learn and say I'm not doing that again. That's right.



It's hard to because sometimes, it reminds me of Eric Ries The Lean Startup, he calls it launching a rocket, sometimes we launch a rocket, and we're going to write it the whole way when he says you need a GPS and, and a car and a steering wheel, because sometimes you're gonna have to change direction. 


Laura  38:15

That's right. That's right. 


David  38:17

It's really difficult sometimes, though, because we, we built the rocket, so we're gonna write it.


Laura  38:22

That's it. And I think that's the tension. I think as we as we think about like, design, I think, I think the conversation we're having now is really about design, as leadership, essentially, is where I think we're circling around. And I think I think that's the challenge because, you know, you got these rockets you want to build, and it's okay to say, we're not like you thought it was gonna be this, but he realized it's something else. And that's where I think the wrestling are, as you describe the emergence is part of the design process. It's part of the leadership, and it's part of the innovative process. And I think giving, you know, our teams a headline that this is the process, and it's okay, we might actually have a couple of experiments and Max, you might realize we're never going to do that again. Like, and that right, and that's okay, that's totally okay. Because that's the learning. And that's kind of a weird thing. Because I think oftentimes, as educators, we invest so much our heart and soul does something, and we say, well, we must keep doing it. Well, if it didn't work, why would you keep doing it?


David  39:23

Yeah. And why it's that vulnerability in the safe space to say, hey, we thought it was going to work and and it's in it's not. So we're not just going to keep trying to do something that's not working. That's right. Yeah. All right. So this is our last question. And this is going to be one that we ask of all of our guests and you can take it where you want. What do you think is next for education and learning just from from your viewpoint?



Oh my gosh, and yes, we I think we've been having this conversation throughout the whole call, is great stuff. Yeah, you know, I love that question. I think there. I mean, we kind of tinkered around it. I mean, I do think the role of AI in the classroom is going to be one that I think we all have to wrestle with. So I think that like, when I think about the horizon for learning is like, that's a one that I think all of us need to be wrestling with like that will impact our lives in the next 5 to 10 years, maybe even sooner. And so like, and again, it's not because AI will replace the teacher, I don't think that but I do think like, how do we have students learn with AI? And make with AI is a different question. And so I think we should be thinking about that, because the jobs of the future that we can't predict them, the role of technology is not getting smaller, it's just getting larger. And so how do we have young people starting making with these emerging technologies, and really strong conceptual ways, not just giving them becoming coders, but really starting to think about how these technologies are shaping the world, and how they can have a voice in that I feel like very strongly about that, that is an area that we all need to get more versed in. And this is not just for technology teachers, this is for, you know, these are for civics teachers, economic teachers, I have a colleague of mine, you know, who works at a magazine, which I won't say, but he's, you know, he told me the other day, he's like, all the economic reports that come out are done by AI right now. That's That's reality, like Bearcat force forecasting models are done by AI. So how, like, that's the thing. So what is the role of a writer now in this age? So these are questions that I think we need to be exploring. And then the thing that I think is also, you know, as you said, in the call in the offset of this call, like uncertainty, or as you like to say, you know, vocal world, right, as you put up on your blogs, I do wonder a lot about, you know, why we don't necessarily know that there's another, you know, we don't know what's going to happen with a neck another pandemic, God forbid, we have another. But I do think one thing is definitely more clear, as we look at, like, whether it's health changes, climate change, economic changes, there will be disruptions and learning and young people's lives, whether it's through, you know, I'm the bay area that's fires that closed down, you know, its health changes, you name it. And so one of the areas that I've just like, I'm very baffled by and not quite sure, but what does, you know, learning distributive learning look like for young people who are living in a world where like, learning is getting disrupted constantly, because of climate justice, economic forces, and health issues. You know, I read this morning, that, you know, I think it was by 2050, the UN council met, you know, recently or today, and like, we're on the brink of like, massive climate change. And we're like, we're walking, pretty steadfast into making that happen. And so I think a lot about like, what happens when, you know, we have a large number of young people in the US who are climate refugees. We're already seeing that there was a school up in Chico that now lives in the bay, and this whole communities are moving because of climate. And so while that's not happening tomorrow, it is an area that I feel like we as educators need to start paying attention to, again, not because we're going to predict all this stuff, but in the same way that like the, the pandemic kind of happened to us. Do we have systems in place for when learning gets disrupted? So that people can, you know, learn across time and space? And sadly, I think that's an issue that like we all need to figure out.


David  43:54

And it even goes back to your quote in the beginning, I think that that level of systems thinking is becoming so much more important in today's in our in our leaders, and we have to see those not only see those issues and challenges, which you know, I would call it adaptive challenges, or, you know, some people call them wicked problems that we're dealing with. But it's it's also really looking at, not not straying away from being able to ask the questions about it. And really, like everything we talked about here today, is looking at these tools and these ideas and these possibilities and grappling with it. And the one thing that I always appreciate is I'm always looking for people who I like to call cognitive pioneers, and I would definitely put you in space and watch why I was so excited to have you here today. Because it's truly an honor to get a chance to talk to you, and just listen to your ideas and the work that you're doing. Because it's not only incredibly important, it's inspirational. And it's innovative. So I really want to thank you for your time today.


Laura  45:15

Oh, thank you, I It's been a such a joy. And I feel like, you know, I hope you'll edit this up, because I feel like we just kind of went down a lot of rabbit holes, which is really fun. But I do think that like the questions that you're asking about, like, one, just thank you for the time and the space is a great way to chat with you all. But I do think these are the questions that I think we all need to be wrestling with right now. And, you know, be really fun to start thinking through these more globally. And I'm excited to be at a conference with you soon, David. But I think that like, I do think we as like leaders in you know, the system level leaders, these are the conversations we need to get into, because I don't think things are going to become less rapid or less, less mild file. And so having the conversations that we can do, like on podcast and with communities, about how do we want to be great, how do we want to show up when these things happen? In our communities, and our role is really important. Not because we're predicting the moments, but because we care about how we need to be responsive in those moments, as leader as an educator. So, you know, conversations like this help us think about, like how we want to show up. So thank you.



No, thank you. And hopefully, we'll be able to do this again in the future. But really thank you again for this time. It's truly appreciated. And for all that you do so thank you, Laura. 


Laura  46:36

Thank you.



On behalf of San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools and myself, we want to thank you again for tuning in for this episode of the Learning Leader Lab. And we look forward to you joining us again for future episodes as we engage leaders inside and outside of our county to explore leadership that is having real impact for the future.