I know, firsthand, how disempowered teachers often feel. Despite the importance of their role, teachers have little say in how schools run, and grow accustomed to being told from above that they need to adopt this or that new strategy to be more effective. Would Design Thinking seem like just another “new thing” to the teachers we were working with in Beavercreek, and would that lead to resistance?

As we prepared for our first workshop, our team decided the best way to help the teachers become effective DT facilitators would be to throw them right into working with kids while we were there. So we planned to have the teachers go through the design process in the mornings, and turn around and teach it to students in the afternoons.

Ambitious....I know.

As 1pm on the first day approached, doubts flooded my mind. After only four hours of exposure to DT, were they prepared to teach it? Would they succeed? Was there enough trust and relational equity in the room?

When I began preparing them for their afternoon sessions, I noticed something amazing. They were on the edge of their seats. People quickly volunteered to handle various components of the afternoon, they actively read every word of the instructions, and then descended upon their classrooms like athletes taking the field.

I’m embarrassed to say that I’d forgotten how much good teachers know about engaging students. There was no mutiny. Together, we pushed one another and learned about facilitating a great design challenge.

Today, a chemistry teacher emailed me. She wrote about how her kids are designing their own labs this week. They are brainstorming the steps for the lab procedure on stickie notes, then meeting with a peer to put the steps in the right order and identify gaps. After this initial “prototyping and feedback,” they’ll formally write out their Procedure.


Victor Saad