I find teachers’ instructional design and delivery processes fascinating. Most of us will have, at one time or another, been expected to create fleshed-out lessons plans using one kind of a template or another, and yet few (any?) of us use this as a way to design and deliver learning experiences day to day (unless required from above). What, then, are we doing? What are our processes?
Currently, I am thinking that we may be best understood as designers. There are a number of visual representations of the design thinking process (see below). All of them share a similar trajectory, or cycle, from a state of learning, to ideation, to testing, and back. This, to me, feels like a simple yet insightful and fairly thorough framing for what we do as teachers. We empathize with our learners, and try to figure out what kind of experience, activity, space, and so on will allow our learners to achieve a target end goal, or defined problem. We have students go through these experiences, we observe, we assess, and we revise our initial understanding and our initial design. On and on.
What changes if we think about ourselves in this way? For one, it becomes clear how Rodriguez’ five areas of teaching awareness – of our learners, our context, our interactions, best practice, and ourselves as teachers – are fundamental to the rest of our work as teachers. It also becomes interesting to think about which practices directly inform and enhance each stage of our design thinking, and which practices do not?
In other words, does thinking about our work as design work help us better evaluate our pedagogical choices?