The Teachers Guild is a professional community that activates teachers' creativity to solve today's most complex challenges in education. While learning and using design thinking, teachers build their creative muscles and connect to diverse partner organizations, who are committed to bringing their solutions to life. Our goal is simple: bring teachers together to collaborate and solve 30 education challenges in three years. Building on each other's ideas, teachers will flood the market with better solutions—designed by teachers and for teachers—that truly keep pace with the changing needs of students today.
The Opportunity There is no shortage of challenges facing our education system. The needs of today's learners are evolving as rapidly as the technologies that compete for their attention. We keep looking for a silver bullet to fix our system, and yet we're often ignoring the best answer we have: our teachers. Teachers are our most powerful innovators, solving challenges in our nation's classrooms every day. Yet they're often alone in this work, and disconnected from the school-, district-, and statewide solutions that others are generating for them. That isolation makes it difficult for our teachers to collaborate, problem solve, improve upon their work, learn from each other, see the greater impact of their solutions, and contribute to the larger system.
In a system endlessly pushing accountability on to teachers, what if we could simultaneously foster their creativity? What if we created a grassroots movement of teacher-led solutions for our classrooms, schools, and communities? What if teachers were able to collaborate and learn from each other across the country, regardless of school walls? Teachers are our most critical resource in making learning relevant experiences for our students—how might we help teachers see themselves as the designers of the future of education? The Teachers Guild—as an online platform and an offline community—helps us activate teachers' creativity to solve today's most complex education challenges.
Our Target Audience The Teachers Guild uses the Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit, and the mindsets of being human-centered, optimistic, collaborative, and experimental, to guide the problem solving process with K-12 educators. In designing the toolkit, we learned that teachers have questions about the future of education and want to try new practices to keep pace with the changing needs of their students. We also learned that teachers naturally are designers and have an untapped desire to redesign the future of our schools. And while many think educators don't have the time or will, actually what they didn't have was a process to problem solve and the permission to be creative. The toolkit answered that need. It has been downloaded 100,000+ times, translated into seven different languages, and been part of a movement around design thinking in education.
The Teachers Guild is designed as both an online and offline experience to encourage collaboration beyond school walls and help teachers explore their own creative confidence. And we provide pathways for their concepts to be brought to life, so teachers are recognized for their ideas and their impact.
Educators can find the Teachers Guild through a number of channels. They may already be connected to like-minded educators, who are exploring design thinking and are hungry to connect and collaborate with other teacher designers. They might find the platform through a participating partner inviting them to solve a design challenge together. Or they could be referred to the online platform or a local meet-up to try design thinking.
Our Strategy & Approach We believe that every teacher is a designer. Our hope is that through The Teachers Guild, educators will have more and better solutions—designed by educators and for educators—that keep pace with the changing needs of students, schools and greater system today. Our North Star is the transfer of teacher-designed solutions from teacher to teacher, teacher to schools, and teacher to the greater system. Teachers are smarter, faster and braver together. Their creativity can lead to real and powerful change.
One of the shifts from our original point of view is prioritizing building teachers' creative muscles first. We believe that as teachers build and flex their creative muscles, better ideas will emerge that have an even greater potential to be shared and tested by other teachers, schools and the greater system.
Our Craft & Research At the heart of The Teachers Guild is community design, creating immersive experiences and tools that seek to enable human connection and collaboration. It's about creating the conditions for people to be their best selves. It requires a combination of traditional design crafts and well-executed implementation.
The Teachers Guild is built on IDEO's proprietary OI Engine, an open innovation platform that enables online collaboration. OI Engine is built on JavaTomkat, and the first version of The Teachers Guild was a redesign of OI Engine's UI and UX for a cosmetic overlay that was more teacher-focused. We had a dedicated interaction designer create a welcoming onboarding experience for teachers new to design thinking, with the intent to invite them to share their ideas on the platform. We use the Medium API to allow for easy storytelling.
A systems designer, communications designer, interactive designer, and a developer originally made up the platform's design team. The team also partnered with the program management team to update the OI Engine open innovation platform to be relevant, inspiring, and easy to use for teachers. We tailored our content through insights from brand research, A/B testing, and workshops with educators. Teacher voice and insight influenced the messaging and content, while the interactive team observed the community's online behaviors to create a teacher-centric experience.
The current team running the experience includes a program director, program designer and digital strategist. As a startup, the skills the team uses on a day-to-day basis are a mix of product management, program design, and operations. We are constantly evolving, taking an agile approach to our program and platform development. However, what drives the success of The Teachers Guild is its community. A team of 10 teacher coaches, from across the United States, greet every member of the community when they join, and then provide coaching throughout each challenge.
Teachers inspired our approach, and we invited them to be very active in our design research phase: + Teachers informed our brand design by sharing personal experiences and identifying inspirational words + Teachers did A/B testing for different homepage designs, helping to determine the page's interaction features + Teachers also did a life-size gallery walk of the platform and delivered feedback around what inspired them
Our Impact Teachers sit squarely at the center of reshaping their profession. By pushing their creative and professional edges, not only do they get to delight in their own creative growth, but also they gain the skills and mindsets to better prepare our students today. As teachers become design thinkers, their students will as well.
The Teachers Guild celebrates the creative capacity of all teachers to design better solutions for their students, their schools and the broader education system. This growing community is not only designing the future of education, but also the platform encourages educators to develop their creative confidence, and in some cases, help to redefine what it means to be a teacher today.
The Teachers Guild impacts education by: + Fostering teachers creative confidence to create better solutions for their students, their schools and the larger system + Building a wealth of inspiration, ideas and solutions for teachers to keep pace with the changing needs of students today + Developing pathways for teachers to collaborate with other teachers, beyond their school walls, and create change in education
We've seen promising impact already. Within the first six months since launch, The Teachers Guild saw:
+ 1,640+ teachers sign up to use the platform + 2,400 return visits per month + 180,000+ page views + 14 minutes on average spent on the site + 700 new ideas generated for students and schools + 345,000+ Twitter impressions + 100+ Google Hangouts + 7 in-person meet-ups + 14 tweet-ups (Twitter chats) + 44 original stories shared by teacher designers
Applies design thinking as core element on their unique web based community driven platform. Excellent efforts to push the boundaries of design education higher with lots of creativity.
Perfect presentation, engaging video story, effective use of social networking medium and active/buzzing online platform.