Struggle, Tinker, Design and Facilitate

Experience the struggle of Design Thinking first-hand, then write curriculum to use in your own classroom.

Photo of Lisa Yokana
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What if teachers experienced first hand the uncertainty and struggle that come with open ended questions? What if professional development began with doing and making using design thinking to tackle a real problem? Professional development should be about having an experience that you could emulate in your own classroom. PD sessions could start with a design cycle led by other teachers and allow teachers to experience design and tinker with tools and materials first-hand. After that, time for working on curriculum collaboratively allows teachers to brainstorm and reflect with colleagues who will support one another when trying something new. Teachers leave the PD session with something tangible to try in their own classroom-something actionable! They also have support from colleagues and workshop leaders so they can reach out to ask questions later when they are back in their own classrooms-it helps them form a personal learning network of like minded colleagues as well as establishing ties to others who have more experience with Design Thinking. For a teacher to become a "facilitator" of learning instead of a "sage on the stage" goes against what we have been taught in traditional PD. Learning to step back and let students struggle and figure it out on their own can only happen when this learning is experienced first-hand by teachers. 

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Photo of Dan Blake

I am in full agreement about the value of a design thinking approach to professional development. Starting with a "How might we...?" question immediately engages teachers in a real problem to which they can explore and ultimately propose and implement solutions. This approach is in stark contrast to most traditional PD which involves sitting and listening to someone else offer a solution to a problem that may or may not be a problem that you're dealing with or a solution that works for your specific situation.

Photo of John Faig

@Dan,
We are using Design Thinking for PD in hopes that teachers might use DT with students. I'm sure it will take a more concerted effort, but explosure is the first step....

Photo of Lisa Yokana

The thing about design thinking is that it begins to seep into everything you do! I find that if you help teachers during the PD with reimagining a lesson or unit in their curriculum, then they leave with something concrete to try. Once they try something, they get hooked! And then you encourage them to reiterate!

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