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Design Thinking for School Leaders: Five Roles and Mindsets That Ignite Positive Change


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"Design is the rendering of intent." What if education leaders approached their work with the perspective of a designer? This new perspective of seeing the world differently is desperately needed in schools and begins with school leadership.

Table of contents

Empathy Is King

Opportunity Seeker

Experience Architect

Rule Breaker


About the authors

Alyssa Gallagher co-leads BTS Spark in North America, helping school leaders across the United States and Canada access leadership coaching and professional development. Alyssa combines experience of school leadership and school district administration with expertise in leadership development. She spent 20 years in the U.S. public education K–12 sector, filling many roles, including teacher, principal, and assistant superintendent. Under Alyssa’s guidance, Los Altos School District (California) became a nationally recognized leader in educational innovation, and her work was featured on CNN and by Forbes, Wired, The Economist, and 60 Minutes. Alyssa has coauthored two ASCD books: Design Thinking for School Leaders (2018) and Design Thinking in Play (2020).

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