The Research and Design Process

The Interview

This fall, each middle school teacher identified a leader in a profession outside of K-12 education to interview. Our interview questions addressed three core areas:

  1. How has your profession changed in the last decade? How do you envision it changing in the next ten years?
  1. What skills, habits, or mindsets make people successful in your field?
  1. What advice would you have for a young person interested in joining your profession? What skills or experiences would help give him or her a leg up in this profession?

In sum, we interviewed 34 leaders in the following fields:

Interview pic

Teachers wrote a detailed summary of their interview, and we compiled them into an e-book which we distributed to the entire staff.


During a professional development day in January, we gathered to synthesize our results. First each faculty member identified 5 to 8 “key take-aways” from their interview and wrote each on a separate post-it note. Then, in small groups, teachers shared the “story” of their interview and their post-it notes. These groups looked for patterns in their findings and created a consolidated list of take-aways. Finally, we came together again as a faculty and engaged in a large-group synthesis activity – resulting in a final list of five essential “Attributes of Tomorrow’s Leaders.”

Interested in our findings? Click here to explore our synthesized list.


Ideation and Actionables

What did we do with our findings? As a first step, we engaged in a brainstorming or ideation sessions around each attribute, looking for ways to integrate these skills and concept into our curriculum. Each teacher has developed one small actionable – something they want to field test in their classroom this spring. We also developed three division-wide initiatives to address our findings.


What This Process Gave Us:

Engaging in this research and design process

  1. Created an urgency and investment for implementing change
  2. Revealed opportunities to connect our academic program to the “real world” by better addressing concepts such as adaptability, failure, initiative, and collaboration.
  3. Fostered collegiality and forged external connections

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