A Strategic Design Lab exploration for anyone who wishes to think creatively and critically about schools

Senior Administrator Team members, Middle Level Administrators, and additional thought partners from school communities, including (and especially) students!

$695 per person; $1,100 for a team of 2; $1,500 for a team of 3 plus $395 per additional person. All teams of 3 or more are welcome to include up to 3 students in the virtual sessions.

In-Person Lab Session

  • Wednesday, October 19, 2022 | 10:00am-3:30pm | Philadelphia Area Location TBD (lunch Included)
Virtual Lab Sessions
  • Tuesday, November 15, 2022 | 1:00-3:30pm
  • Tuesday, January 24, 2023 | 1:00-3:30pm
  • Tuesday, February 28, 2023 | 1:00-3:30pm
Extra community sessions via virtual meeting and community chat will take place between Lab Sessions

At some point, the chaos of the pandemic will subside. We will get our wind back, and once we do, we’ll have to take stock of how we (as individuals, as leaders, as educators), our schools, and the world have changed. And, importantly, we’ll also have to think deeply about what schools and education must become to help us navigate an increasingly complex and uncertain future. In the words of educator/philosopher Zachary Stein, we face an epic “design challenge” in education, one that “brings us face-to-face with the importance of education for humanity.”

This strategic design lab is a cohort/community exploration aimed at finding and developing the opportunities to design a “new normal” for schools beyond this difficult moment, a normal that is fueled by relevance, wellness, sustainability, and justice. Facilitated by Big Questions Institute (BQI) co-founders Homa Tavangar and Will Richardson, this experience will build both personal and institutional capacity to make the best strategic and academic decisions possible for the students and communities you serve into the future.

If you want to unlock your ability to create a fresh path forward, acquire a toolkit of skills and activities to discover opportunity and make sense of complexity, and join with other educators from around the world to learn and share throughout the journey, we invite you and your team to join us. 

This new BQI learning experience is for you if you are seeking to:
Perhaps hold these and use as outcomes under each session below?

  • Develop a clearer sense of how the pandemic has changed the job description for school leaders.
  • Build your personal skill sets and mindsets to withstand the inevitable challenges to come. 
  • Rediscover the empathy, creativity, and joy that led you into education as a profession.
  • Recognize and grow the opportunities for institutional change that the pandemic and other new contexts have created.
  • Reclaim your agency to design and create an experience of school that centers what’s truly important.
  • Have a clear understanding of the starting points for design when it comes to wellness, learning, justice, and thinking about the future.
  • Learn effective and creative tools that you can use to begin the design process in your school community.
  • Connect with a community of global educators who share your urgency for asking big questions about the world and about education and schools.
Session One: The Big Picture: Who Are We Now? (Foundations of the Strategic Design Lab)
August 10, 2022, 10am - 3:30pm In Person
The in-person kick-off session for the Strategic Design Lab will be an opportunity to build trust, celebrate, reflect and ask fearless questions, and begin a process of discernment around what we will “take through the portal, and what we will leave behind.” In community with other educators and leaders, Homa and Will will guide you through a deeper process using the 9 Big Questions to unpack the 3 R’s of Reflect, Reset, Reinvent. Through appreciative inquiry, active engagement, and a design process, we anchor in Who Are We Now? to navigate What Might We Become? 
  • Recognize the contexts impacting schools and the dispositions of radical acceptance and fearless inquiry to weather multiple crises and build leadership capacity for unexpected, complex, relentless challenges. 
  • Determine What is Sacred? in your school, articulate purpose, and use this as an anchor for design.
  • Deepen empathy across various constituents in your school community to design more inclusively and with greater relevance.
  • Interrogate legacy structures and practices while honoring your school’s mission, values and other guiding statements. 
  • Be able to communicate the reasons behind embarking on strategic design to build engagement and support from within your school.
Session Two: Supporting the Whole Person: Designing for Wellness 
October 19, 2022, 1-3:30pm Virtual
If we’re not emotionally and physically well, learning is stifled, exclusion flourishes, and cultures of school become toxic. We will explore a baseline for wellness, identify obstacles to wellness, and practice imagination around how we might create “Islands of Sanity” in our schools.
Outcomes: Participants will work on design of concrete shifts in practice or systems to enhance overall (physical, emotional, social, spiritual) wellness in your school community (for both students and adults).

Session Three: Rethinking “Normal”: Designing for Learning
November 15, 2022, 1-3:30pm
If we are to more fully create environments and experiences in school that center deep and powerful learning, we need to interrogate what we think learning actually is, and uncover the current practices and pedagogies that actually stand in the way of learning. 
Outcomes: Participants will work on design of concrete shifts in practice or systems to enhance learning across your school community.

Session Four: Deeper Than Diversity: Designing for Justice
January 24, 2023, 1-3:30pm
To live the ideals of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, we must acknowledge how these stand at the core of crucial school responsibilities, from educational relevance to a sense of joy and belonging. Recognizing and living this priority benefits the whole community (not only those on the margins), and the viability of our students as authentic, impactful global citizens. 
Outcomes: Participants will work on design of concrete shifts in practice or systems to help your school community go deeper than diversity, toward authentic relationships, belonging and justice.


Please contact Deb Borden, Director of Programs and Research with any questions.