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Change Architects

location_on Romania

We transform children from spectators into the architects of their own future!

Every child has the capacity to become a Change Architect in his/her community when he/she discovers through practical experiences their own capacity to create change and gain the 21st century skills. We area building a collaborative ecosystem formed by teachers, students and supporters, using the design thinking method and a social entrepreneurial approach, to generate social change.



HundrED shortlisted this innovation

HundrED has shortlisted this innovation to one of its innovation collections. The information on this page has been checked by HundrED.

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Target group
Students basic
May 2023
Change Architects gave me the opportunity to help my student discover that they have the power to inspire change, find creative solutions and prove to themselves that nothing is impossible!

About the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

The educational system was not able to attract, prepare and maintain high performance educators and couldn’t provide the students with access to practical, life context and authentic skills. As a result students who graduate lack the skills and competencies needed to be successful. This is why we need complementary initiatives to support the development of students, teachers and their communities.

How does your innovation work in practice?

We are building an ecosystem formed by teachers, students and supporters, using the
design thinking method and a social entrepreneurial approach. Our project has 3 levels (Orientation, Acceleration and Deployment) which are implemented over the course of multiple school years. During Orientation: Students experience for the first time the changemaking process, and work with their teachers to design and implement a pilot using project based learning and design thinking. At level 2 - students are assigned a mentor with the goal to design a sustainable social innovation. At level 3 - students had already developed a sustainable solution and they work closely with other students and organizations to scale their system changing social innovation with the goal of increasing impact. At the first level we go broad and as we screen teachers based on interest we increase our support and resources available to them such as mentors and role models who normally come from the corporate sector.

How has it been spreading?

We started the project as a pilot in 2016 and since we had reached over 6000 students (6 to 18 year old) from Romania and Moldova, led by over 450 teachers. When we started we didn't have all the levels but we continued to bring in new resources and support to respond to our community needs, wants and limitations. The latest innovation includes the design of an online course for teachers who work together to implement the first level of Change Architects, while at the same time learn about the design thinking method and learn from each other. The course enables educators to learn the method, practice it in their classroom and receive ongoing feedback from us and their peers resulting in 70 new projects and 1500 students reached. In 2021 our project received the Aspen Community Impact Award

If I want to try it, what should I do?

Activities follow the school year which normally starts in September and end in June. At level 1 teachers sign up on our website and after are contacted by our team to receive access to training and materials. Access to level 2 and 3 is open only to those teachers who completed level 1 with their students and are interested to continue the project. Once at level 2, they are matched with a mentor.

Implementation steps

Express interest
Educatos who are interested fill out the sign up form. Educators can be from Pre-school to high school level, including Special Education Needs.
Onboarding session
Educators who are interested are invited to participate to an onboarding session where the project is presented as well as what is expected from them. This is also an opportunity to build relationships among participants and strengthen the group of educators dedicated to create change. . Educators have to option to conduct this activities as a course over the course of 6 modules or individually using the project guide and monthly training sessions. Either way the project steps are the same.
Introduction to Design Thinking
Design thinking and project based learning can be relatively new for many teachers. This is why we spend a session dedicated to clarifying the key elements such as divergent and convergent thinking. The facilitator role of the teacher. The focus on the learning process as well as the development of the 21st century skills such as collaboration, communication, empathy, creative and critical thinking among others.
Empathy - Learn and do
During this step educators are learning about the importance of cultivating empathy among students and start identifying issues they care about in their community. One activity we propose here is the empathy walk where educators take students outside the school to identify issues they might want to change. Back in the classroom they sort this issues using a traffic light code and identify good things, so so, and things that they didn't like. This is followed by a teachers group reflection.
Imagine - Learn and do
In this phase educators continue their learning journey and start facilitating activities in their classroom related to root cause analysis using a fishbone diagram, as well as 5 Why? In order to help students get to the root cause. Than they start prioritizing and selecting an issue they would like to address. The last step is to brainstorm on potential ideas and select the best idea using an impact effort matrix. The educators group met online and share their experience and receive feedback
Act - Learn and do
This activity encourages students to work collaboratively to put their ideas into practice. Educators help them in planning their work, allocate resources and put their ideas into practice. The goal is to learn by doing something about the problem collaboratively. Educators meet in their groups and share with their peers their experience. They also receive feedback from AllGrow and are equipped with more tools and frameworks from Pareto (80/20) to success wining path.
Reflect - Learn and Do
In this step, educators learn about feedback, formative and summative assessment as well as they are able to practice it with their peers in the group as well as in their classroom. Students are asked to reflect on their project as well as how they worked as a team. The idea of an iterative processed is introduced and they are now able to evaluate their SMART objectives and decide is they would like to repeat some of the steps or they consider their project goals achieved.
Communicate - Learn and Do
In this last step of the course and project, educators are invited to create a summary of the entire project which is considered part of the first level of Change Architects. The project summary is shared with their peers and students are also encouraged to present their project to their school mates and families. Since the timeline is limited to the course duration, those educators and student who want to continue working on the project can do so till the end of the school year.
Project submission
Either through the course or using the online guide educators are invited to submit the project for evaluation. All the projects are published on our website to inspire other educators and students. The deadline is the end of the school year.
Project evaluation
Each project is evaluated by at least 3 judges and individualized feedback is provided. The goals is to see that the design thinking steps were followed and that the children were at the center of the process. We are not looking necessarily for extraordinary new ideas but rather for student centered projects where we can hear their voices, however we believe this is the only way to get extraordinary ideas, if we let students make their voices heard.
Level 2 - Acceleration
Once the project has been submitted and evaluated, it has the opportunity to enter level 2, if the educators desire. At level 2, the project follows the same steps and the students also receive the support of a mentor. The difference is that both the educator and the students are familiar with the design thinking process and they can enhance their project making it more sustainable. The Empathy, Imagine, Act, Reflect and Communicate steps are repeated and at the end the project is submitted.
Level 3 - Deployment
At this level only project with scaling potential are accepted and they receive a social innovation fund to scale their ideas.The goal is to simulated real life condition for entrepreneurs. The process here integrated design thinking, agile and lean practices.Students use and create their own Kanban board to implement their ideas. If at the start of the project the teacher was in the driver seat now the wheel is given to the students who work with the mentor to scale their idea in other contexts

Spread of the innovation

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