Start With Teachers

Mobile application design for social impact..

The Mission

Use the power of human-centered design to effectuate social change. We were challenged as UX Designers to implement an actionable solution with clear implementation plans to innovate the current Public Education system.

Scope: 2 weeks

Colaborative Contributors: Katrina Dargel, Mina Yaghoubzadeh, and myself

My Role: Research, user surveys/interviews, strategist, market research, branding, wireframes (myBalsamiq), and user testing.

The Action

My team and I analyzed why the current educational system in the United States was failing. We then researched the models that were succeeding in the United States and the top 5 rated educational systems in the world to see how we could implement their building blocks into our model to build a realistic actionable solution within a 2 week time frame.

The Outcome

After toiling through many different avenues and research we concluded that one aspect that teachers greatly lacked was financial support. The whole educational system is too broke to fix in 2 weeks, but a mobile application that would allow anyone to donate school supplies, funds for field trips, or general funds for extracurricular activities would have an immediate impact to the classroom. Hence, Start With Teachers mobile application was born.

The Recognition

Start With Teachers is not only a mobile application, but it is a movement towards a better educational system. Our future depends on equipping our next generation with as many tools as possible to consistently compete on an international level. Children are not failing in education, the educational system is failing our children. Our team is open to investors who believe in the "growth mindset" to help us develop and launch this application and website to push this movement into the limelight.



Trying to figure out how to fix the U.S. Educational System is a daunting task. Learning about all the bureaucratic malarkey was disheartening, but our idealism, the passion from the teachers, and the utmost desire to give all children the opportunity to recieve the best education was the light at the end of the tunnel that forged us forward. One thing for sure, something different needed to be done.

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

-Albert Einstein

We began our discovery by researching into different teaching models. One model that seemed to pop out was the "Growth Mindset," by Carol Dweck. She teaches that when students and educators have a "growth mindset," they understand that intelligence can be developed. Students focus on improvement instead of worrying about how smart they are. They work hard to learn more and get smarter. Versus the current system which is based on a "fixed mindset," which people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. Just because a child receives an F, it doesn't mean that the child has failed. It just means the child is not there yet. This cultivates developement through hard work and more importantly, it instills hope instead of crushing a child's ego.

Analyzing Survey Results

Through our discovery and research we posed questions focused on finding answers from our local teachers.

  • Survey Results Regarding Teaching Methods
  • Survey Results Regarding Financial Challenges
  • Real Talk From Real Teachers
  • Non-Teacher Survey Results
  • Teacher Persona, Pain Points, Scenario
  • Donor Persona, Pain Points, Scenario

Whiteboarding for "Growth Mindset"

We began to learn about how the "Growth Mindset" method was showing positive results in test schools and how the current archaic system was failing us here in the United States. Our survey results also showed that our local teachers supported the "Growth Mindset" method and believed it would be beneficial.

I had a moment of inspiration from the data and whiteboarded a Responsive Learning System. Basically, students have their set "fundamental classes" throughout the week, but would fill out their open slots in their schedule with "passion classes". The schedule would sort of look like a Trello board and set to be interchangable and responsive on a daily basis. In the end my team felt that it would be too difficult to implement and passed on the idea to flush it out.

Knowledge Is Power

In our survey, 100% of the teachers wished there was more awareness about the financial struggles of teachers. So we went back to the drawing board and hashed out ideas. In fact we were hashing out ideas so much we came up with the idea of a hashtag social impact campaign with an element of crowdfunding.

We would create a website to bring awareness to communities about the financial challenges of teachers through statistical information, testimonial videos, informational videos, and a donation aspect. All the money that was recieved from donations would be spilt equally to our participating local test schools in the form of giftcards to help purchase needed school supplies.

Whiteboarding And Hashing

You have to trust the process to lead you to the truth.

  • Working through the 5 WHYS.
  • Figuring out the hashtag campaign name. #StartWithTeachers was my hashtag input, which got picked as the final name.
  • Trying to sketch out a rough framework.
  • More preliminarty ideas.
  • Comparative Analysis.

"Sometimes one must get lost, so that you may find your direction."

We would end up scraping this campaign as well because as we delved deeper in we began to realize that the campaign was a bit too broad and without us being able to follow up for a few years the solutions could not be delivered. Once again, we were at square one and feeling a bit lost.

We thought about just focusing on the aspect of crowdfunding and seeing if we could come up with a realistic MVP. It was during this process that my teammate Katrina shared the idea of just simply adding a "Teacher Registry" button on Target's website. They already have a college, wedding, and baby registry. Why not add a teacher registry? Target has a lot of supplies and many locations. It seemed logical. Yet, the next day while planning to wireframe I just felt that this would be the wrong direction. Time was pressing, but I knew in my gut that our own mobile app was the way to go. By becoming a part of Target we were going to become a corporate promotion versus leading a movement in a authentic grassroots fashion trying to create change. We would lose our branding.

We talked through it more while considering our user's needs and came to the decision to go with a mobile app. This also made more sense since a majority of users shared they use their mobile devices the most. We would use Target, Amazon, and Zola as inspirations and I quickly jumped onto the whiteboard to sketch out Wireframes and User Flows. I also finally felt that "click" that we were on the right path.


Using my whiteboards sketches I built out wireframes rapidly. I had originally built out the whole application using Lo-Fi wireframes touching every aspect so that during User Testing the tester could experience every flow. I probably built out close to 80 wireframes in 1 day.

  • Teacher User Flow Wireframes

    Because I did the sketching and I am pretty proficient with myBalsamiq I was able to rapidly build out wireframes. Here are just a few related to the teacher's user flow.

    • Sign In
    • Fill out information
    • Take a profile and share your story
    • Recieve your personalized URL code to share with people
    • Choosing barcode reader to add items
    • Camera access requested
    • Reading barcode
    • Adding item
    • Keeping it humanistic


    After a couple rounds of User Testing and iterations my team and I built out the final prototype. My teammate Mina Yaghoubzadeh lead in the Hi-Fi Prototype build.

    (Click image to view prototype.)


    I care about our education system because I truly believe that great education leads to a brighter future. Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance leads to fear and fear contributes to ugly things like prejudice, racism, sexism, and hate. Knowledge is power, but it also needs to be used for good. I personally have friends and family members who are teachers who dedicate their lives to educate children. Learning other teachers' stories and struggles heightented my empathy and respect towards them.

    This social impact project meant a lot to me because it allowed me to see that even 3 people could potentially make a positive impact. We would love to find funding for this and take it all the way.

    • Build out the donor side.
    • Build out the other features like Group Gifting to allow multiple people to chip in for larger items or Project Fund which would be similar to crowdfunding for field trips and special projects.
    • More iterating and more user testing.