What I learned from being a teacher

How I stopped worrying and learned to love the flow

This fall has been busy in lots of ways. Starting my own business is one and teaching a class in UX Strategy and Experience Design at Changemaker Education in Stockholm is another. Although I have been teaching classes before both at university and at gymnasium level this is by far the most challenging and anxiety creating teaching Endeavour I have embarked on to this date. It was probably a stroke of hybris that made me accept the offer in the first place. And then I hade no choice but dive head first into it!

My previous teaching experiences had merely been about short engagements or in my previous career as an actor teaching drama lessons and acting classes. But that feels ages ago. Almost like another lifetime and (more recently) about doing irregular appearances at Umeå university lecturing about project management or gamification. Two topics I am very familiar with. But planning a full five week course on the topic of matching business goals with user goals, drawing customer journey maps, apply design thinking, doing empathy maps, impact mapping, wire-framing, solution sketching and such – and to try to make it as coherent and sense making as possible… I mean you need to get it right. It’s extremely important. It has to make sense! You don’t wanna f***k it up. In my opinion: This topic is much too important to mess up. The world is in great demand of great Experience Designers! My true belief is that, in the coming decades, the world will depend on its designers and programmers for it’s survival. I am kidding you not. More about that in coming posts.

And as I look back at these five weeks: It’s the time the most demanding thing I’ve ever done but also, at the same time. the most rewarding. 30 students eager to learn the craft of Experience Design. Asking questions. Questioning stuff. Being obnoxious and outspoken. And funny. Full time dedication from them and half time presence from me. Commuting between Umeå and Stockholm. Balancing the structure and content to make it worthwhile and finding the right level of challenge for them. That IS a right out scary thing. You wanna make it the best experience possible. Both for the youngest students who just left gymnasium and the once who had already lots of experience from different areas. One had been team lead at both King and Spotify. Where do you start? What models and methods will be most relevant for them and what they are up to both in their school projects and then later on career wise . “Experience Designer – with a focus on Game Design and business” – obviously a dream combination for someone like me with a background in game design, gamification, digital transformation and UX-strategy. It is what you would call a golden opportunity to both teach and learn yourself. Because that is the thing about teaching: It’s an opportunity to learn and reflect and to dig deep into your own experiences and to express them in a pedagogical way. And share your learnings.

And also to be humble enough about both your own shortcomings but also your best insights. At Changemaker the main idea is about “change to learn – learn to change” and the focus is on learning by doing where projects are at the core of the students learning process. Having them try themselves. My greatest learnings have been that the students contribute so much themselves to that actual learning, both with their questions and their sometimes naive or ingenious ideas. And that a great deal of the learning that actually happens in the classroom is about picking up something from a group or a student and bouncing it around and having the whole group and the teams reflecting on the activities and questions that arise as they happen.

And it’s been great to lead by example and through cases and stories from some of my best and worst projects. To see their prototypes turn into viable solutions with well defined problems and with clear and crisp value propositions was a joy far beyond my wildest imaginations. Wow! I was amazed to see how well “my tools” and methods work even in the hands of others. Some of them even in a new light and renewed power. And even though I may have over planned when I started out: It feels like my rigorous preparations actually paid off. You can never prepare too much. But be open enough to adapt and change and to be agile. On the 4th week things happened smooth and organically without that much planning at all. The group of students and their processes led the way and was inspiration enough. And I love being a guide in learning. It is a truly rewarding experience and a blessing to help other people develop and gain insights. I end this year a happier and more content person than I started it. Learning rules!

#teaching #learning #experience #design #ux #strategy

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