Monica Snellings

I took on this major challenge for teachers when I was invited to facilitate at ReWork’s Classroom Innovation Studio recently. The day long workshop’s goal: Help 14 teachers and 3 principals improve their problem-solving skills using the principles of Design Thinking.

We started with an empathy building exercise. This opened everyone to the student's perspective and led to many proposed challenges for the day. Ultimately, we decided we wanted to answer the challenging question: How can we help students take ownership of their learning in a way that empowers them with skills to fulfill their professional and life ambitions?

In just one afternoon 3 teams eagerly designed and prototyped over a dozen different ideas, tested them, got feedback, and iterated on their work.

I just finished the Design for Social Innovation master’s program at the School of Visual Arts, so I consider this method of learning by doing to be fundamental and as designer of 25 plus years, design thinking comes naturally to me. But if you are new to it, as many of the participants were, it’s hard to grasp and a bit frustrating at first.

During the day the educators made several discoveries:

  1. The student empathy building exercise opened up a space for new thinking

  2. It’s hard to let go of your assumptions

  3. Standing up and moving helps ideas flow.

  4. We couldn’t believe how well we all worked together having just met

  5. It’s better to fail fast or in the language of ReWork: Learn fast.

I was really proud of my group. They came up with an awesome idea for helping kids explore their talents and interests with a game that crosses all disciplines, matches kids up in small interests groups and culminates in a community engagement internship. They really sold it and got jazzed up! It may actually get developed. And if it does, you’ll hear about it from Inquiring Minds.

And if you want to try this process for yourself ReWork provided a simple one page Rapid Prototyping guide.

Want more? Just search for the key word – workshops.

For more information the workshops we develop with teachers, email us at dk [at]

AuthorMonica Snellings