Education policy is constantly developing. In the school year of 2014, Danish elementary schools were set to implement an extensive and ambitious reform. Simultaneously, the working conditions of teachers were changed in terms of increased taught lessons and hours of presence at the schools.
The actual implementation happens in the classroom. Here, teachers need the necessary tools in order to transform political vision into teaching. Therefore the Administration for Children and Young People in Odense Municipality decided to structure the implementation of the reform in close collaboration with principals and teachers. They had indicated that it was a challenge to deliver high quality education, while finding time to prepare classes, correcting assignments, and providing feedback to pupils. The challenge led to a collaboration between Odense Municipality and MindLab. Together, we were to solve the dilemma of time versus quality by developing new forms and methods for preparation and teaching.
Over the course of the project, eight teachers, alongside consultants from the municipality and from MindLab, worked iteratively with development, selection, and refinement of ideas that would make it easier for the teachers to deliver high quality teaching within the available time frame. To ensure that solutions would fit the needs of teachers, Odense Municipality made eight teachers available for 25 hours each. This allowed time for an equal partnership where teachers would come up with ideas and have a great deal of influence over the initiatives.
The project took its course over four iterations. Teachers continually developed suggestions for initiatives to ease their preparation and deliver quality teaching. One of the most successful initiatives that sprung from the process was speed-sharing: This is a special meeting format, allowing users to share experiences with each other. Teachers were to do so across schools to combine knowledge in an informal format.
The process that led to the concept of speed-sharing consisted of four iterations:
In the first iteration, teachers were presented with ideas from completely different industries as a means of inspiration. One idea that teachers found to be inspirational was a “mealtime box” to which families can subscribe. They contain food recipes, needed ingredients, and are delivered to the door step. The mealtime box inspired teachers to come up with structured lesson-sharing, where proven teaching materials and lessons would be collected into boxes. A box would then contain already prepared materials and best practices, making preparation quick.
The second iteration focused on co-development, where MindLab produced a prototype of a box with teaching materials. In the prototype stage, teachers can test an actual box, and describe possible contents for and how they would use it.
In the third iteration, teachers prepared future scenarios for speed-sharing in a workshop facilitated by MindLab. Two scenarios were prepared. They showed how speed sharing could take place in the day to day lives in the schools. They emphasized roles of the municipal administration, principals and teachers in order to provide them with an idea of how speed sharing could be carreid out.
In the fourth and final iteration, MindLab and the administration pilot tested the various scenarios for a speed-sharing. Two speed-sharing pilot tests were then implemented at two schools. Here, teachers who had not been part of the development processalso took part. They were particularly keen on speed-sharing. The concept went through minor adjustments after the pilot test. Finally, the Administration for Children and Young People in Odense Municipality decided to facilitate and fund speed-sharing for all interested schools.
Speed-sharing is now a fixed offer from the Administration for Children and Young People to schools in Odense Municipality and more teachers have also facilitated speed-sharing on their own initiative. The distribution of this concept to all schools in the municipality will also be reinforced by the fact that the eight teachers who co-developed the concept are actively contributing to its dissemination. Several other municipalities have also contacted Odense Municipality to find out more about speed-sharing.
The Administration for Children and Young People continues to work with other initiatives that were developed as part of the project. For example, one concept can help improve meeting culture at the various schools.