Systems Thinking Institute Arrives in Milwaukee - Takeaways

Early March, the Systems Thinking Institute reconvened to answer broad questions like, “What is Systems Thinking” and “How can it be applied to produce positive results in work, life, community and beyond?”. The Institute, facilitated by the Water’s Foundation, inspired all attendees to come together and discuss best practices, experiences, improvements, and disparities on the topic of education.

Tracy Benson, President of the Waters Foundation said, "The second-annual Waters Foundation Systems Thinking Institute held at Milwaukee Public Schools was a tremendous success! Close to 200 individuals working in education, community organizations and businesses came together to gain a deeper understanding of systems thinking Habits and tools. It was incredible to see the collaboration and team building that took place over the three day event. I have no doubt that both adult and student participants will use the knowledge gained at the Institute to achieve desired, sustainable results in their work and lives for years to come."

A few members of our Milwaukee Succeeds team were at the Institute, attending workshops and joining the community conversation. The following takeaways from our team really display how meaningful this event was - to bring educators, community members, organizations together around the common goal: Success for every child, in every school, cradle to career:

“Attending and participating in the Systems Thinking Institute was a truly inspiring experience! During the two days, I joined the “From Systems Thinking to Action” workshops which focused on math discourse in the classroom strategies. Fellow attendees were primarily from Brown Street Academy and included students from Arizona, a principal from Alabama and other MPS school teachers. Engaging with teachers and those who support classroom education excited me as I felt like I was getting a first hand view of the opportunities and challenges experienced around common goals of improving math proficiency rates for our children in K-8 schools. But most importantly, I experienced how earnestly our teachers want to be part of the success of all of our children! All participants committed to transcending their fears and trying new practices that will increase the confidence of our children in math. We all want our children to proudly state, “I am a mathematician!”” -- Danae Davis, Executive Director

“It was energizing to see so many educators dedicated to using models of systems-thinking to improve outcomes for kids. Through this institute, I not only learned but saw the impact systems-thinking and continuous improvement can have on instruction in our schools. The one quote that stood out for me was ‘sometimes you win, sometimes you learn’; for me, that should be the essence of all work to improve outcomes for kids—we can’t improve without doing things differently and embracing cycles of innovation.” -- Dave Celata, Deputy Director

“I had the pleasure of attending the “Systems Thinking to Action” workshop, which was an opportunity to gather significant insight into the factors that affect a teacher’s ability to plan, execute and implement evidence-based strategies that could positively impact outcomes for their students. One great takeaway from the institute was that teachers/Staff from Brown Street academy, Humboldt Park Elementary, UW-Milwaukee, and the Thurston Woods Campus attended, which shows us there is a need and desire for evidence-based solutions to disparities. This is a significant moment for Milwaukee Succeeds’ mission and our 2020 goals for “School Success,” because we were able to connect to a classroom-level coalition, increasing mutual opportunities for collaboration in the spirit of continuous improvement.” -- LaQuan McMahan, Data Coordinator AmeriCorp VISTA

It’s true that systems change and continuous improvement are two goals that Milwaukee Succeeds aims to achieve throughout our collaborative effort. Events that bring people together to talk about that work is a great start toward the difficult work Milwaukee faces. Learn more about the great work that the Waters Foundation does by visiting their homepage! Learn about how you can get involved with the work we do at Milwaukee Succeeds by visiting us online!

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