Engaging in conferences is a major part of being a leader and staying relevant in the industry of design. We all know the rush and intensity of three to four days of learning session after panel after keynote, but effectively disseminating the knowledge across the office post-conference is where many of us fall short. Newman Architects, a firm with over half a century of experience in the design of innovative and award-winning educational facilitates, recently created and implemented a method of sharing conference findings and highlights in a way that supports their commitment to data-driven and evidence-based design. This method is called the “Design Debrief” and it works like this:
Flipped Classroom: Each staff member was given a condensed K-12 Reference Guide, which included key graphics, summaries, and research from a comprehensive range of recent articles, conferences like A4LE, SCUP, and ASBO. They were asked to familiarize themselves with the themes found in the material before the event.
Firm-Wide Dialogue: The firm then divided into small groups mixing people across sectors and experiences to explore the key themes of Safety, Building Systems, Policy, Environment, and Movement. The groups actively engaged in the themes in an authentic learning environment by using activities commonly deployed in the schools Newman designs (for example: word maps, five senses descriptions, discussions, charrettes, and hands-on movement).
Authentic Learning Environment: State of the art furniture was brought in from A2S and V/S for the groups to learn about and personally experience the big impact that rearranging work surfaces and changing seats can have on a learning environment.
The Design Debrief event facilitated the staff of Newman Architects in not only sharing ideas, experiences, and dreams related to education design, but in exploring how to more deeply and meaningfully engage data-driven methods through ongoing conversations, further events, and knowledge sharing across the firm. Newman Architects plans to repeat the event for each of their project sectors.
Rachel Pampel, ALEP is a designer at Newman Architects. Emma Lineberry is an architectural associate at Newman Architects.