Teaching to UX: How does it relate?

The skills I picked up as an educator are numerous in relation to psychology, communication, subject matter expertise and creative iterative processes.

Melanie Ogunwale
4 min readDec 20, 2020


I was a teacher for 15 years!

I loved working on teams as a creative force that can make a huge impact in organizations. Here is a few comparisons of my role in teams of teachers in classrooms and community organizations in relation to how we might understand the role of a product designer-

To my core subject teammates I’m a UI designer:

“You are brightening the hallways, this school looks great with all bright colors and art. It used to be really dreary in winter.”

To admins like principals, interventionists I’m a UX Designer:

”I see that visual arts can boost test scores, let’s integrate curriculum to get these results that can show up in our data.”

I’m a UX Researcher with parents collecting information often as a collaborative partner:

”I was never good at drawing. Glad some other people know. Just not my thing.”

Then we have the users:

”What are we going to do today? What are we doing? How?”

Users are the center to this whole structure. How do we engage them? How do we get them to persist through unsureness? How do we meet their needs?

At the end of the day the parents, the admins, your teammates can and will have their own goals, but the bottom line is the user engaged, fulfilled? Are they able to access the information essential to them so they are able to continue with little obstacles and joy? Have you convinced them your product (lesson and curriculum in whole) is worth it? Are they motivated to come back?

That level of problem solving is the core of teaching.

Three students working with mosaic tiles. They are laying them on grid paper to create a picture.

Can our designs, or lessons, withstand the conditions given to us?

Here are things we always consider much like designers need to:

Everything is based on standards
I’m obligated to connect this to standards mandated by the state and district. (They usually overlap, but they must be defined).

I’m obligated to make everything I do accessible to every learner that comes through my classroom. It’s not just the law, it’s the understanding that it helps them cope with near constant inequity.

As an arts integrationist I tasked to make other core subjects like math and reading more accessible through the arts. This way as a team we can improve an entire experience in a school or community system for our students.

Meeting The Users They Are At
Rarely is everything optimal and perfect. People are complex! I meet my learners where they are, based in reality, which is often not as in control as we imagine. Change is the only constant.

Multiple Intelligences
What is in this for visual learners? Folks who learn through moving their body? Folks who learn by listening? Logically and procedurally minded people? Creative and imaginative people? There needs to be something for everyone.

Responsive to Environment
I design for school assemblies, parent groups, newsletters, learning demo days, lesson studies, and even recess school yard fun. The design of my lessons interacts with life on campus.

Three children painting on an outdoor chalkboard with chalk paint.
My practice doesn’t stop at the classroom door. It is applied to all areas of the school and beyond. In this instance admin requested a space in school yard where younger kids could engage motor skills, sensory play, and artmaking.

My job is only as good as the quantity of what it provides.

As a creative I am only present in a school if: the budget allows, the parents like me, and the data shows I’m of good use. It’s just the reality. So the bottom line means that I am:

Actively thinking about how my work boosts data points.

Contributing to the emotional needs of the community I serve and work with.

Managing a budget and time prudently and resourcefully.

Teaching overlaps quite a lot with a UX designer and the reason why I wrote this article is to let you know:

I have worked on iterative process for over a decade. Let’s design something together!

A placard reads: “I became a teacher for the money and the fame.”
A sarcastic placard of why I became a teacher. ;)



Melanie Ogunwale

Product Designer | Research, UX, UI for Mobile and Web Based Products