I have been a teacher for almost 20 years and I entered this profession with two goals. The first, more immediate, was to change the lives of young people. The second, more long term goal, was to design a whole new learning environment with the potential to change the world. While I feel like I have been able to impact a few folks here and there during my career as a teacher, I feel like I have had very little impact beyond my school. So, in the fall of 2014, I took what I like to call a “living & learning sabbatical.” My goal was to re-insert myself into the real world and take a look at what was going on first hand. My reason for taking the sabbatical was this inkling that there was a huge disconnect between what was happening in the real world and what was happening in schools. This inkling came from the all too brief exposure I had to the real world. As a classroom teacher your job is all-consuming and it only provides glimpses into the world outside your own four walls. It was my hope that the sabbatical would change all that.
The first thing I did was get myself a “hot seat” at the co-working space galvanize where I would hang out and geek out with the young entrepreneur start up types. Next I engaged with the maker community and various maker spaces. Every day I would immerse myself in experiential learning, ethnographic research, and lot’s of reading. However, the most important thing that I did during the sabbatical was listen and learn from all types of people: politicians, artists, teachers, young people, old people, professors, bus drivers, anybody who was willing to talk to me about learning. In the process of these conversations I began to redefine who I needed and wanted to become as an agent of large scale change. I define this new identity as a learning designer.
The learning designer is different from the average educator in the three personas they assume: the extreme learner, experience architect & social entrepreneur. You can learn about each these personas in the learning designer post.