We want school stakeholders
to address issues of student behavior.

Chicago Public Schools

  • 1 / 5

    We conducted a series of five workshops with a cohort of eight CPS schools, each of whom had identified a focused issue of student behavior. The issues ranged from tardiness and disrespect to poor attendance, failing grades, suspensions and violence.

    1 / 5

  • 2 / 5

    After conducting interviews and observations with fellow members of the school staff and community, participants sketched and brainstormed ideas for new roles, programs, products, communications and events.

    2 / 5

  • 3 / 5

    Teams selected concepts that showed potential for maximum impact with minimal investment, since budgets were tight and implementation was critical.

    3 / 5

  • 4 / 5

    In one session, teams created low-fidelity prototypes for their strongest ideas, and were able to immediately share them with others for rapid feedback.

    4 / 5

  • 5 / 5

    In another session, teams acted out their new program and service ideas, in order to know how they would play out in real time.

    5 / 5

Project Outputs

Many teams designed new programs they could implement in their schools. For example, one team began with the complex challenge of freshmen dropping out of school. Rather than focusing on the dropouts, they spent time with their positive deviants, on-track 9th graders, and noticed a pattern: all of them were engaged in at least one after-school activity. This team designed an after-school activities fair for prospective freshmen, in order to make the exemplary students’ behavior more of the norm.


Learning Experiences
Through a series of workshops, our participants learned the human-centered design methodology—from framing to prototyping—and began to transfer the process and principles to their own environments. In this way, the experience built capacity for educators to become everyday innovators.

I couldn’t have been more skeptical.
I couldn’t be more excited.”

Workshop Participant

Client & Community Outcomes

The teams who engaged in our process created incredibly insightful solutions, because they went about the work of problem-solving in a completely different way. The focus on appreciative inquiry meant that they studied the small minority of students who were “living the solution,” rather than focusing on the majority who were exemplifying the problem. This appreciative mindset was mentioned over and over as a most valuable new way of thinking.