Design thinking can seem bizarre to people who have not seen it in action. It can feel like a sharp departure from traditional pedagogy — because it is. This is why it’s important that you communicate your intentions with all stakeholders.

Communicating with Your Leadership

So you want to use design thinking but you’re not entirely sure what your leadership will think of it? Will your principal be on board or will it seem like too much of a departure from the traditional way you teach? What will you do if your school has scripted curriculum? How do you even approach the subject?

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Treat it as a pilot project. Explain why you are trying something innovative and how this can be informal action research for you to improve in your practice. Describe the research you have already done in learning about design thinking.
  2. Explain that this is not replacing the standards. It’s simply a new framework for teaching the same content that you are already teaching.
  3. Share the framework with your leaders. Go over your design thinking unit plan and ask for their feedback.
  4. Show examples of other schools that are using design thinking. Share how this has led to increases in student engagement.
  5. Offer a rationale. Share how design thinking is used in the corporate world, in engineering, and in social and civic spaces. Give a defense for why this is vital for students entering the creative economy.


Communicating with Parents

You might want to share the design thinking process with your parents. This could be in a Meet the Teacher Night meeting, during conferences, or in your newsletter.

  1. Offer a solid rationale for parents, including how this will help students in the creative economy. Explain how this framework will boost creativity and innovation and why it will help their child learn valuable skills.
  2. Share links and resources that they can connect with.
  3. Explain that design thinking isn’t simply a fad. It’s a process that has been around for decades and slowly grown organically in each industry.
  4. Provide examples of universities that are using design thinking. Share how this process will help students become ready for college.