Den Frie Fakkel: Operationalizing the vision
In the spring of 2021, Snail Academy ran a series of six workshops with the teachers at a Copenhagen school, Den Frie Fakkel. The goal was to support them in operationalizing the school’s progressive vision: that is, to bridge the gap between lofty, abstract goals and their everyday, practical work with the children and as a team.
During the first workshop, Snail Academy took the teachers through a process of identifying the goals that they were already reaching, and put into words their strengths as individuals and as a team. They began to home in on shared definitions – what does it mean to be “good at handling chaos,” for example – and to articulate shared dreams and goals. This phase of the course was challenging because teachers are not used to strength-based assessment of their work.
In the next four workshops, SA organized a series of small activities to concretize individual goals that the team had pinpointed as particularly interesting or difficult. These activities helped create a shared language and strategies that the teachers could implement right away. Each of these workshops contained elements of assessment, to familiarize the team with the cycle of goalsetting, implementation, and evaluation.
During the final workshop the team evaluated their progress during these workshops and articulated the insights they had gained. They expressed not only new and more specific terms for their work together, but also new perspectives on their work with the children. New opportunities appeared when they took these perspectives, and they were able to map out new strategies.
In short, where their old perspectives on their work with the children appeared to afford them no opportunities for experimenting and innovating – and obscured the ways in which they were already innovating – the new terms and perspectives opened up new territories for innovation, and also a new-found sense of confidence.
Finally, during a six-month follow-up meeting with the principal,
t became clear that this new-found confidence and shared language
has positively impacted the team’s collaborations. Moreover, the team’s
new ways of working together on innovative pedagogy had been integrated
in the school’s procedures, thus anchoring innovation organizationally.