Through co-designing, co-teaching, and reflection we have identified the following core values that shape our approach to this special work. These values are essential to our engagement in effective, meaningful, and joyful partnerships.
Creative process is at the center of our approach to design and pedagogy. When contracted to deliver a ‘product’ we take that commitment seriously and our process is guided by project objectives while also being illuminated by the unique creative resources contributed by our partners. We value messiness and beauty. We expect to find new opportunities along the way and remain flexible to respond.
Collaborative design requires space for capacity-building, hearing each others’ perspectives, and reaching consensus. We actively listen, sense and respond, reflect, and refine throughout any given design process. While the creative process can be messy, circuitous, meandering, inspired, and tedious, at times, we embrace it all—including (most especially) mistake-making—as necessary parts of the process. We support collaborators to take risks and embrace setbacks and missteps as expected, respected, and worthy of being inspected. Interdependence requires that we lean into hard conversations to grow capacity for creative collaboration in ourselves and partners and to deepen relational trust.
We prioritize the voices and perspectives of those served by our work and design in response to their specific desires, needs and concerns. In educational settings, this means centering teacher and student voices, especially voices that have historically been marginalized. We regularly reach outside our team for diverse perspectives with the intention of centering creative individuals, artists, or designers who are representative of the people, perspectives, and cultures in the communities in which we work. To expand horizons, we balance the familiar with exposure to and understanding of diverse perspectives by including the perspectives of artists from around the world.
We embrace broad definitions of creativity that recognize the social, cultural, and everyday manifestations of human creativity. Each individual embodies a unique set of creative resources that may show up in any aspect of their lives. While the arts are a place for developing and demonstrating creative resources, opportunities for creative engagement emerge continually in myriad aspects of our lives.
We engage the experiential learning cycle, both as a design principle and pedagogically. This means inviting ourselves, our partners, and our learners into authentic creative experience and reflecting on those experiences to gain insight into next steps. Reflection guides our iterative design process, catalyzes our creative growth, and is integral to the creative experiences we facilitate.
Clear, precise communication is essential for bridging across collaborators. We work to find shared language and conceptual understanding that can function across partners and bring coherence. To do so, we identify and define key concepts, mental models, objectives, and group norms. We use metaphor as a tool to envision, express, and clarify ideas, feelings and experiences and to allow for deeper understanding among individuals and across organizations. Documentation of the process is akin to communicating with our future selves or future collaborators. Documentation takes commitment and time, and, when shared as a responsibility, can enhance inclusivity. Careful documentation can create a blueprint to continually refine and develop our process and to celebrate successes.
We follow an iterative design process regardless of the design setting, including arts integrated instruction and curriculum for K-12 or beyond, developing online self-guided professional development courses, or facilitating in person training, workshops of organizational visioning
We develop empathy and understanding about the conditions and the lives and needs of the stakeholders we are serving.
We make sense of all the information and data we gather to set constraints and objectives for the creative process.
All partners have the opportunity to share ideas and solutions during this initial stage for exchange. We hold an open mind and encourage possibility thinking.
We test ideas out at a micro-level to see how they will fit the context and constraints of the project. Then we test a pilot implementation and iterate and refine.
Next we gather and process feedback from stakeholders, make refinements large and small, and let new ideas spin off of this learning.