Design Thinking at Trinity

Purposeful, Encouraging, Empowering, and Forward-Thinking
Four years ago at Trinity, we decided to introduce a Design Thinking Class into your child's weekly schedule. This was a purposeful and thoughtful decision that we believe has significantly impacted our student learning ever since. Tonight, I wanted to take some time to share the what, how, and why of adding this subject into our curriculum as the right choice. 

Mr. Williams, our Design Thinking Instructor and Makerspace Coordinator, has worn many professional hats during his 12-year tenure with us as he has been our Grade 2 Lead Teacher and an Assistant Teacher. Our Design Thinking Program at Trinity has been led by Mr. Williams, the teacher, and mastermind behind it all. He has been instrumental in designing and building upon the program's inception. 

So, what is Design Thinking? This entails a problem-solving approach that encompasses empathy, creativity, and iteration. Our program expands and enhances the skills necessary to identify and solve complex problems within teams or individual projects. At Trinity, this is rooted in social-emotional development. Research has shown that students who feel secure, confident, and empowered are willing to take risks and work through challenges with determination and positivity. These are foundational character traits that can be beneficial throughout one's life. Helping students germinate the first seeds of resilience is a core goal of our Trinity Design Thinking Program. 

Quoted by a current and Alumni Student

What I love about Design Thinking is…
Student (Grade 4), “I love designing stuff like bookmarks, and we can 3-D print stuff. Once, I even made a movie. He has so much stuff to do, and it’s all so fun. I like planning and testing if one idea will work and how to change the design without actually changing the design.”

Alumni student, “What I learned in Design Thinking that I now use in Middle School is the planning ahead and testing if one idea will work or not, and learning how to change the design without actually changing the design.”

Design Thinking research has shown improved critical thinking and problem-solving strategies, increased creativity and innovation, and enhanced collaboration and communication skills. This can also help to foster a growth mindset, which is the belief that one’s abilities can be developed through effort and learning. A growth mindset is interwoven into our programs at Trinity because students are more likely to persevere through challenges and be resilient when faced with challenges. 

At Trinity, students from preschool through grade 5 can prototype ideas and test them, gather feedback, and iterate on their designs through age-level appropriate experiences. In addition, students are taught to view technology as a resource for personal expression, which helps them gain greater technical literacy and empowers them to express themselves in new ways. Our Design Thinking Program also helps students develop essential life skills like empathy, communication, and collaboration. These skills are necessary for success in today's interconnected world, where the ability to work effectively with others is increasingly important.
We look forward to the continued growth of this program for years to come and are excited to see what strides will be made as technology advances. 

Mr. Williams is passionate about teaching - some of his goals are to lead/inspire others, to create a space that lends itself toward creating challenges that lend problem-solving skills, and for children to feel empowered by following through and succeeding. To do this, he supports them with the appropriate composite of patience and encouragement to see them succeed.

A Few Thoughts from Mr. Williams about the Design Thinking Program 
What I value most about Design Thinking is…
“Design Thinking is a very nebulous subject that can interconnect with any subject area - specifically, areas such as coding, 3-D Design, and STEM. These skills are beneficial and can help users define ways of being less distracted by technology. The right technology can be utilized for particular purposes and applications.” 
What excites me about Design Thinking is…
“Through applying the Design Thinking process, students can overcome setbacks and become leaders on their path toward success. This, in turn, allows them to recognize when they are faced with an obstacle and to see failure as part of a stepping stone within the process instead of seeing it as an end, all to their efforts and inability to move beyond this. Instead, they become encouraged to continue through trials and tribulations.”
When asked how he would describe the program in a few words…
“Purposeful, encouraging, empowering, and forward-thinking.” 
Knowing your students is one of the critical factors in finding the right balance for support and is a pillar that transcends all subjects at Trinity, and Design Thinking is no different. Mr. Williams values the close-knit community at Trinity, which is woven from the contributions of faculty, students, and parents. This helps him better understand his students' different challenges and guide them effectively on an individual level. 
Design Thinking at Trinity combines all the best attributes of teaching and learning. Given the fast-paced nature of our rapidly evolving world, the ability to grow and advance executive functioning skills that are honed within Design Thinking is critical. It’s a program in which we’ve made significant investments, and we see the benefit to our students daily.