In August 2016, the Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation hosted its third annual Convening honoring the teacher teams that received LIGHT Awards earlier in the year. The meeting brought together an impressive group of 37 educators along with members of Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation’s board and advisory team. Teachers had opportunities to discuss their projects as well as to socialize and participate in professional development activities as a group.

“I absolutely loved getting to hear about the other amazing projects and connecting with educators who are so creative and energetic (…) an incredible professional community. This program, to me, makes the teaching profession feel really trusted, respected, and elevated.”
Cohort 3 LIGHT Awards Grant Recipient and San Jose, CA Teacher

Ellen Moir, founder and CEO of New Teacher Center, provided opening remarks. Her presentation wove the personal and political, from the story of the teacher that inspired her when she was young (we all have one), to her remarkable efforts to revolutionize teaching through mentoring.

Facilitators from Lime Design primed the group with energizing improvisation exercises, playfully guiding us towards being present, empathic, and open to mistakes. This set the stage for a session on Design Thinking: “a human centered, prototype-driven, innovation process” in which solutions to problems can be revealed through emergent, exploratory routes. Each Convening attendee embarked on a Design Thinking journey of their own, working to elucidate a partner’s “need statement,” brainstorm and prototype solutions, and solicit feedback. The Design Thinking method provided helpful approaches to solving problems (and sometimes, embracing failure) for teachers and other professionals alike.

The importance of an active, emergent approach to enacting great ideas was echoed by two Cohort 2 LIGHT Awards grantees, who participated in this year’s Convening by sharing their “Lessons Learned” over the first year of their two-year project at Life Academy in Oakland. Establishing regular meetings and a culture of communication and reflection allowed the team to realize early on that a fundamental part of their project and budget needed to be changed. They also emphasized the importance of data – broadly defined – in tracking impact through the school year. Often, data helps spur honest, growth-oriented conversations about effectiveness. We were lucky to have these LIGHT Awardees join us at the Convening. Watch a recent feature on their work with Mills Teacher Scholars here.

Participants also had time to debrief with their team members and begin planning their LIGHT Awards project activities for the school year. Each summer, recipients of that year’s LIGHT Awards will be invited to a Convening like this one. Below, you can see some of our favorite moments from this exciting event.

View the current 2016 LIGHT Awards program brochure here.

Images by Danielle Tsi Photography