International School Teachers Use Design Thinking

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  • Professional Development

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How might we improve teacher collaboration in schools?

That was the challenge presented to 15 middle level educators on January 27th at the 2012 conference of the European League of Middle Level Educators (ELMLE) in Prague, Czech Republic. John Nash, from the dLab, and Jennifer Rhodes, from the International School of Monaco, collaborated to deliver a workshop focusing on how to use human centered design to better understand the needs of teachers and design better solutions to pressing problems in schools.

Entitled “If You’re Hearing Voices That’s a Good Thing,” the workshop stressed the importance of exhibiting empathy if you’re trying to create an improvement in your school. To illustrate this, four design teams were created, each one focusing on the needs of a teacher in their group who was designated as “user.” Through a series of empathetic questioning, the teams uncovered the needs, aspirations, and desired feelings of their teacher/user as they pertained to wanting a better collaborative experience with other teachers. Through empathy, the teams created a brainstorm of ideas to solve the teacher’s challenge from which they harvested four ideas.

The group departed with a fresh set of ideas to address collaboration challenges in schools and a viable process for problem solving in their day-to-day work.