At SXSWedu 2015, Peter Nilsson picked up a book by W. Glenn Griffin and Deborah Morrison called “The Creative Process Illustrated” and brought it back to a meeting with four young teachers then teaching at Deerfield Academy: Katherine Burd, Jael Hernandez, Juan Diego Lopez, and Katie Speed.  Teaching, we had recognized, is extraordinarily creative work–we create every day: questions, assignments, lessons, experiences, learning environments, and much more–and the process described in the book seemed to apply naturally to education. 

Griffin and Morrison’s study asked creatives in the advertising industry to illustrate how they came up with ideas, to take a process unique to individual people and share it in a way that is readily accessible to others.  There is a natural analogy to our creative work as teachers.  How much time do we spend planning for class?  How do we spend that time?  What do we think about?  What are our goals and priorities?  When we sit down to design our classes, what do we do?  Where do great lessons come from?  How could we illustrate all this in one page?

To pursue these questions, we spent the spring of 2015 creating and testing prompts and materials for replicating Griffin and Morrison’s study.  We sent out inquiries to teachers around the country during the summer, and during the fall of 2016–bolstered by new teachers Sam Chapin, Kayla Corcoran, Meghan Jimenez, and Sara Lentricchia–we reviewed the results and started gathered conclusions, some of which are now posted on this site.

The purpose of this online home is to share out what we have found–and continue to find–with the world.  What is your planning process?  How might you capture it in one page?  We encourage you to browse the many illustrations here and to ask questions about teaching.  And, we encourage you to try this at your school to begin a conversation with your peers about how we do what we do.  If you’d like to share the results, we’ll post them here as part of a growing collection.


Katherine, Jael, Juan Diego, Katie, Sam, Kayla, Meghan, Sara, and Peter

Questions and inquiries: info@planningprocessillustrated.com

Note: this project was generously supported by professional development funding from Deerfield Academy.

2 thoughts on “About”

  1. Dear Katherine, I am so sorry I have not submitted my “illustrated path to effective teaching” yet. I have been going through a search process and was just named Head of School, Trinity Prep School, Winter Park, FL. Life has been somewhat chaotic since your first mail out. I believe in the work you are doing and would still like to submit my illustration.


    1. Hi Byron–congratulations on the new post! Work as Head of School must be very consuming. Still, if you’re interested in and able to send along an illustration, we will be glad to post it. Many thanks, and best wishes in your new role!


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