Thoughts on Week 1 Activity

Reflections on social good innovation:
Much of the work I do as Service Learning Coordinator revolves around this notion, though our vocabulary is slightly different. The main purpose of our work is to develop “service-minded global citizens” and we use the service learning process to do that. The idea is very similar - generate collaborative learning structures and activities that will allow students to make positive change in their school and/or community. The idea is to embed such experiences into the learning so that each student has the chance to be part of some change in each of the 12 years of their education at our school. In so doing, we hope, we create a balance of knowledge, skills and dispositions to become changemakers. Loftly thoughts, often messy on the ground, but worthy every moment of time afforded this work.

What is most exciting to you about engaging in social good innovation? What are your concerns?
The Pactful program seems to provide a structure that allows for a common experience for all students involved in the program but also allows for a flexible approach to learning through student voice and choice on both the SDGs and the social change they hope to make. It seems, at first at least, like a great platform to utilize in supporting this learning experience.
In our school’s context the challenge lies in how best to support the work we are already doing at the whole-school level without introducing another “new” thing. Obviously we will need to create a simple marriage between our work and that of the Impactful team which, clearly, has put much thought and expertise into this platform.

Thinking ahead to your challenge, will you have your students focus on one particular global goal or will it be open? Why?
I do not have my own classroom, but rather work in more of an instructional coach capacity at various levels. However, as we move steadily toward infusing the SDGs into our collective work and people become more comfortable not only with the SDGs themselves but also with the systemic and interconnected nature of the SDGs I can see us supporting a more “open” approach to the SDGs. In the end it’s necessary for students to know that all SDGs are related and that addressing one will, by default, also affect others. The key will lie in ensuring that conversations and learning are focused to support his inter-connected learning and solutions-based experiences.


I agree about avoiding adding just another new thing! I’m looking forward to a year of supporting student learning with more questions and less content. They can find the content, and I know students are coming back motivated to create a better world.

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Alison, that piece of “more questions and less content” is one that lets your educational wisdom shine. It’s such a simple statement but shows evidence of a whole new paradigm and lots of ‘letting go’ on behalf of the teacher/educator. And, as well know, to let go would imply a great sense of comfort with ambiguity and a mindset focusing on the journey… just as it should be. :slight_smile:

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Say yes to less! This is a great opportunity for theme-based instruction that allows students (and teachers) to reduce distractions and focus on concepts and purposeful inquiry.


I wish that we had a similar program at my school. I think getting students to look for and participate in changes for the better in their own communities is the only way we can get a majority of them to buy into making the world a better place

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Hi Laurence, you are right, social innovation is messy! I also see a lot of overlap between service learning and social good innovation, as well. What I like about social good innovation is the specific focus on identifying the actual problem (instead of a potential perceived problem) through talking to those affected, looking at data, etc., and then designing and implementing solutions in partnership with those most affected. I suppose that is the heart of service learning, yes? Innovation also allows for the potential to scale. What may start out as a local project to serve a local need potentially has the ability to have global impact if it meets common needs experienced by others. Building a better world for all humans, at a micro or macro level, is the heart of what keeps me going in this work.


Hello Lawrence,
I enjoyed reading your response. I agree with youThat conversations and learning should focus on interconnected learning and solutions-based experiences outside of the classroom.

I work with an organization called Compass Education which focuses on sustainability education and systems thinking (in a very simple level). Lots of our work focuses on finding leverage to make change in our own classroom, team or community. They are big on the idea of change happens in small steps first, by people who often want to innovate the ‘system’. In this case that innovation might just be the reduction of content and the changemaker might just be you. :slight_smile:


Lisa, I love your point about scaling innovation up. Very well stated! I am also drawn to your note about an authentic need versus a perceived need. Certainly this requires a lot of insight on the ‘problem’ itself and we often have our own impression of problems that is not holistic enough to really understand it. For example, for an AP Spanish class our students were doing some research on the workers of Dubai (an often chosen topic in a place where poverty, though present, is hard to identify). The kids decided to interview the guards at our school (mostly from Nepal and India) thinking that they would uncover destitute circumstances and uneducated people with no access to job opportunities. They came back both amazed and freaked out. It turns out that our guards include people with engineering degrees, with masters degrees, etc. Not at all what the students expected to find in this community which they perceived to be really low income due to the nature of Dubai. It turns out that most of them actually had work in their respective countries but left for a chance to save more and either pay for their children’s education or to get some money to start up a business. The perceived ‘need’ was thankfully we took to time to see whether it was a need or not. As I -re-read all this I wonder what all the participants are thinking about our reality in Dubai. :slight_smile:


Can I help? What is in the way of your wish becoming reality?

tough, and necessary, lessons for sure. Getting us closer and closer to abolishing the great lie of “othering”

What an incredible lesson, Laurence! This is definitely an example worth sharing with others on the nature of the problem and connecting with people who are impacted, or who are thought to be impacted.

Since you asked, I don’t know that I have a notion of what things are like in Dubai, but I’m certainly interested in learning more. It would be really interested to try to open up projects for students across countries to work on together. They could learn so much from each other while also working on their chosen project/solution.