BEP039 – Pathways to Personalization Part 6 – The Design Team & Stakeholder Voice

Shawn Rubin, Chief Education Officer, and Cathy Sanford, Director of Research and Development, both from the Highlander Institute, talk about their new book, Pathways to Personalization: A Framework for School Change.

This is the sixth of a multi-part series about the book. In this episode, Shawn and Cathy talk about the importance and value of developing the right design team, and also the importance of stakeholder voice in framing and shaping what the design team is putting together.


02:24 The design team and stakeholder voice and their symbiotic relationship

02:29 What is the meaning of the design team

02:50 The design team as visionaries – developing their own aspirational vision for what they want the ideal student and teacher experience to be in a pilot classroom

03:04 You really need to think carefully about the participants that you bring to the table

03:50 We talk about stakeholders like students and parents

04:07 It really comes down to the goal and objective of the design team before you dive deep into implementation. You deeply have to understand who the users of the school experience are

04:27 Thinking from a user-centered design lens

05:04 The user-centered design is a frame for being able to study the local conditions in the beginning

05:14 Student shadow

05:39 Student focus groups

06:20 Bringing families or community members to the table

07:23 On what you mentioned with user-centered design. You mentioned the importance of evaluating local conditions, and I assume that it’s not just about location-based, it’s not place-based. Is it also about male-female population, demographics, minorities… And are you putting together personas when you’re doing the student shadowing? Or is it mostly one or two students? How does that work?

09:25 There has to be some aspect of school itself that resonates for them [students] in a way that engages them and motivates them every single time that they come in the door.

10:38 A heterogeneous design team

12:31 8th grader’s insights in a pilot program

14:40 A middle school principal who shadowed a student

16:39 A parent asks: “How are you going to know that they’ve actually mastered it?”

18:03 Suggestions for action items that a teacher or administrator could take away as their first step to put together a design team and take into consideration stakeholder voice the right way


Pathways to Personalization: A Framework for School Change

Book Website:
Harvard Education Press:


Be Education Podcast