For the last 6 weeks, I’ve been emerging myself in the world of Design Thinking. My learning journey has taken me (and my students) on a voyage I didn’t expect. But now that my (virtual) bags are unpacked and I can reflect on my experience, I feel as if I’m ready to tackle a real problem (though it is also a problem beyond my control).

Background: Most professional environments struggle with communication. And schools are no different. Endless emails and meetings often affect people’s productivity. Each Monday morning as I walk to the Performing Arts Center for our weekly Superintendent’s Briefing from 7:00-7:15 am, thoughts of: “There has to be a better way” resurface. Inspired by this Edutopia Article, I’ve decided to apply Design Thinking to create a prototype that just might generate a viable solution to the Superintendent’s Briefing challenge.

Empathize: Because morning briefings are attended by all staff on Monday mornings, staff (teachers, administrators, and business office personnel) are unavailable to students and parents. Additionally, for those students who are already on campus, during the 15-minute meeting, they are unsupervised which could be a safety and security issue. Considering my own organizational routines, before school Superintendent’s Briefing‘s don’t work for me. I like quiet mornings before the students come in. I like to get to work early and putz around in a quiet environment. The morning time allows me to prepare a last-minute brainstorm I had, reply to emails that came in over night, or just enjoy the calm before the storm. Breaking my routines with a Monday morning briefing is the antithesis of zen. Using Nielsen Norman Group‘s quadrants in empathy mapping as my guide, I doodled my thoughts on the Superintendent’s Briefing:

Define:  After my doodle, I defined my problem: Our community needs to revamp the Monday morning Superintendent’s Briefing because they are scheduled at a time that is (potentially) unsafe for students.

Ideate: I gave myself 3 minutes to come up with ideas that could solve the Superintendent’s Briefing problem:

  • Cancel “briefings” completely
  • Add “briefing” minutes to the school iSams calendar
  • Create a “briefing” blog
  • Create a “briefing” vlog
  • Begin Superintendents Portal on the weekend
  • Hold “briefing” meetings for different departments on different days
  • Begin faculty meetings with school-wide “briefing”
  • Delegate divisional Principals to present “briefing” items in their weekly bulletins
  • Share a Google Doc with all “briefing” items
  • Blog/Vlog/Google Doc can have comments/questions capability
  • Email out “briefing” notes
  • Livestream the “briefing” so people can be “present” around the school
  • private YouTube channel with “briefing”
  • Google Hangouts livestream
  • Superintendent available from 7:00-7:15 am on Mondays for questions regarding the “briefing”

Prototype: After reflecting on my ideas, I decided to prototype an amalgamation of some of my ideas.

I created a prototype blog which I will present to my administration.

The idea of the blog would be a “record” of items that the Superintendent needs to share out and would also include videos of the Superintendent’s Briefings which colleagues could watch at a more suitable time and could review and refer back to. It also put timings on there so it could be LiveStreamed (or alternatively, could be uploaded as it would allow the Superintendent to record them remotely–from the comfort of his own home or his hotel room when recruiting). Office hours could be Monday from 7:00-7:15 should people questions, concerns, or follow-ups which could then be added to the site for future reference.

I made a screencast walkthrough about how the site could work so others could use this as a springboard for their own solutions.


Test: The big test is yet to come. I will try and get in with my administration team this week and share my Design Thinking project and prototype with them. … I’ll let you know how it goes.

Reflection: I don’t know how this prototype will be received, but going through the Design Thinking process to solve a real problem gives me confidence that I can apply this to other issues both in and out of my classroom. Wish me luck!