Empathy is an important part of design thinking. Learning about your client before you start designing solutions for them is very valuable. For my Real World Learning project, I interviewed four different students. Two male students, and two female students. One each from 8th grade and 6th grade. I decided to ask for volunteer students in my classes, I received many offers, but tried to go with a variety of student types. Some who were very active in class, and others who were quieter or not as engaged in class.
There are many things educators can learn from empathy interviews with students. I learned a lot about the personal interests of my students. All of them had strong family times, even if they were all from different upbringings. I believe the family/home life of a student strongly affects their learning tendencies in school. Another strong take-away I had was that all four students knew what they wanted to do when they grow up. They all have dream jobs, and great reasons why they want to do those jobs in the future. These passions also lead to how they think school is for them. One student enjoys science more because they want to become a marine biologist when they are older, while another really enjoys Industrial Tech, because they dream of becoming a farmer, like their dad.
Taking time of our busy schedules as teachers to interview students is difficult to think of doing, but afterwards, I feel that I can shape my lessons, projects, and activities in class so much more effectively for my students. Even though they are in middle school, the students are able to explain the ways they learn best. It was very informational to hear that they enjoy hands-on projects. Any time they get to get up and move/build/create in class is one of their favorite times. I can relate to this, even as an adult learner, I am definitely much more engaged when I am being active in my learning.
My process through design thinking is just beginning to happen, and already I feel it will lead to some awesome success in student creation. Now that I know how my students think and feel towards school, I can use this information to drive my Real World Learning project forward onto the next phase - Defining the Solution!