Designing for Learning
Design is a system that can be employed to transform our current educational realities and classrooms through informed problem-solving. As educators, it is a part of our role and our profession's nature to continually engage in design. We are designers of educational spaces, pedagogical approaches, curriculum, instructional planning, and our relationships. Our practice is informed by design, but also, our design is shaped by our experiences and the identities of the communities we are serving. As a current preservice teacher, I will strive to create/co-create and employ design thinking that is curiosity-driven and solution-oriented. Underlying problems facing our system and students today need to be addressed, and design thinking can be an avenue to do so. I believe that there cannot be growth in our practice without authentic engagement deeply embedded in our spaces, with design in mind.
I hope to practice this by using design thinking in a way that is responsive to not only the desired outcome, but student-centred, that acknowledges and supports their identities, funds of knowledge, realities, and greater learning needs. I would also want to think beyond the classroom walls, ensuring authentic learning environments that tackle real-world issues. I believe we should model this and encourage our students to practice design. This can be in the form of a project where students can employ this problem-solving process to try to investigate and solve an issue that is of value to them.
Design thinking is a reflective process and tool; when engaging in design, there are a multitude of factors and actors that must be considered. As teachers, we are not silos, and design is a collaborative process. As I have learned through my field, employment and research experiences, there is a great deal of value in involving multiple stakeholders—ensuring an interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving that is benefitted by this integrative conceptualization. I am currently a research coordinator on a project studying the lived experiences of recently arrived Syrian and Yazidi refugees in Calgary. I had the opportunity to do an independent study of the educational experiences of school-aged Yazidi refugee children. While speaking with these children and discussing their experiences with teachers, making friends, language, access to academic supports at home and in school etc., it was clear that these environments are a product of design and can be improved through design. I am currently in the process of writing a report to the local resettlement agency on my findings and recommendations. Doing such research, I realized the importance of design from an educator and sociological researcher's perspective. Through an interdisciplinary understanding of learning, I hope to inform design creation and implement pedagogies and tools to enrich the teaching and learning experience.