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How we got here

The Teach Different Method is a conversation technique conceived by practicing educators in response to the traumatic experience of a high school sophomore on the west side of Chicago in 2017.

 
What started out as a really bad class turned into a really good conversation about revenge the next day which became an obsession to use short quotes to start classroom discussions about ideas that really matter to young people.
 
Through hundreds of hours of iteration and input from stakeholders at all levels of education, the Teach Different Method was born and now serves as the key framework for engagement of teachers,

students and families in Teach Different’s social impact initiative – The Conversation Project.

Twin Founders

Dr. Steve Fouts | Founder

I think the only thing that has meaning in life is how you treat other people. It’s your passport to immortality – because whatever you give out will be passed on. I’ve taught most of my career on the west side of Chicago and believe that America’s next great generation of leaders will come from its urban communities.

I believe that America’s polarized state is temporary – and prophesied in Plato’s Republic — and that philosophical and charismatic leaders will emerge to bring about justice in our society.

I see social emotional learning skills and critical thinking as the most important gifts that we can pass on to students. I value deep, meaningful conversations that give everyone a chance to listen, speak and understand. I want to work with teachers, school leaders, business leaders and philanthropists to promote life-changing conversations and pave the way for the next generation of leaders.

Dan Fouts | Founder

I’ve taught high school social studies since 1993 in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. I did my undergraduate work in philosophy and political science at Bradley University, and completed a graduate degree in education and social policy from Northwestern University.

Outside of the classroom, I’ve presented extensively at the state and national level on questioning and conversation techniques. I serve on the academic advisory board for PLATO (Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization) and have worked with the American Philosophical Association to bring philosophy into K-12 classrooms in the United States.

I believe the most difficult and important job of a teacher is to create environments where students listen to each other and share their unique perspectives on the world, without fear. Conversations achieve these ends in the most beautiful way. The byproducts of conversations are compassion, understanding and a collective sense of belonging. This is the soil that makes academic learning possible.

But it’s more than that.

With the mental health needs of teachers and students taking center stage, conversations now have added therapeutic value– they nurture mindfulness, disrupt negative thinking patterns and remind us all that we are not alone. We need conversations now more than ever.

Twitter @iteachdifferent @dmfouts

Where we are going

OUR VISION

A world led by courageous critical thinkers and problem solvers 

What we do

THOUGHT-PROVOKING QUOTES

We help spark unforgettable conversations about ideas that matter from the world’s greatest thinkers. 

SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING

We create culturally responsive, caring learning environments that inspire story telling and personal expression.

CRITICAL THINKING

We challenge everyone to play devil’s advocate with their own beliefs, so that they expand their mindset and appreciate different viewpoints.

INQUIRY

We challenge everyone to ask and answer life-changing questions.

Workshops and Conferences

Date: July, 2023
Where:  National Association of Secondary School Principals Conference, Denver, Colorado

Date: July 2023
Where: Illinois Education Association Summer Leadership Academy, Normal, Illinois (pending)

Date: April 2023
Where: Association of California School Administrators, North State Professional Development Conference, Reno, Nevada

Date: March 2023
Where: Illinois Education Association Representative Assembly, Rosemont, Illinois

Date: February 2023
Where: Chapters International Worldwide 2-Day Workshop

Date: January 2023
Where: McHenry High School Social Studies workshop, Crystal Lake, Illinois

Date: January 2023
Where: Lake County Regional Office of Education Administrator Academy

Date: November 2022
Where: Proficio Special Education Conference, Oak Lawn, Illinois

Date: November 2022
Where: Chapters International Worldwide 4-Day Workshop

Date: October, 2022
Where:  City-Wide Equity Conference, Reynoldsburg, Ohio

Date: March 2022
Where: Special Education Conference Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Date: January 2022
Where: Chapters International Worldwide Conference

Date: January, 2022
Where: Jackson, Mississippi

Date: November, 2021
Where: Proficio Education Conference

Date: November, 2021
Where: Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Date: October 2021
Where: Birdville ISD, Texas

Date: July, 2021
Where: Springfield, Illinois

Date: June 2021
Where: Birdville ISD, Texas

Date: April, 2021
Where: Oregon Council for the Social Studies – Portland, Oregon

Date: November, 2020
Where: Mid Hudson Social Studies Council

Date: 11:00am EST, November 14th, 2020
Where: 3-Step Method Webinar Series   Sign up here

Date: November 2020, December 2020, January 2021, February 2021, March 2021
Where: National Webinar Series

Date: November 2020
Where: Proficio Special Education Conference

Date: November, 2020
Where: Lake County Regional Office – Grayslake, Illinois

Date: September, 2020
Where: Folsom Middle School, Folsom, California

Date: July 2020
Where: Folsom Middle School, Folsom, California

Date: March 2020
Where: IEA-RA Rosemont, Illinois

Date: February, 2020
Where: DuPage Regional Office of Education – Wheaton, Illinois

Date: February, 2020
Where: Hindsight 20/20 McLean County – Bloomington, Illinois

Date: January, 2020
Where: Kinnikinnick CCSD #131 – Roscoe, Illinois

Date: March 2020
Where: University of Illinois at Springfield, Springfield, Illinois

Date: October 2019
Where: Online Webinar Hosted By National Council for the Social Studies

Date: October 2019
Where: Illinois Council of the Social Studies, Harper College

Date: August 2019
Where: Tri-Conference Event, McHenry High School, IL

Date: December 2018
Where: National Council for the Social Studies, Chicago, IL

Date: September 2018
Where: Ohio Center for Law Related Education, Columbus, OH

BIG QUESTIONS AND TECHNOLOGY = BIG POSSIBILITIES
Date: August 2018 Where: Tri-Conference Event, McHenry County, IL
TEACH THE RIGHT THING: ETHICS IN YOUR SOCIAL STUDIES CLASSROOM
Date:  December 2016 Where: National Council for the Social Studies, New Orleans, LA
TEACH LIKE SOCRATES: ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
Date:  June 2015 Where: National Council for the Social Studies, Washington D.C.

Advisory Partners

Dr. Frank Houston

Dr. Frank Houston

Dr. Steve Fouts

Dr. Steve Fouts

Kimberly Mitchell

Kimberly Mitchell

Dan Fouts

Dan Fouts

Dr. Terri Daniels

Dr. Terri Daniels

Mike Petitti

Mike Petitti

Jacob Plummer

Jacob Plummer

Dr. Jana Mohr Lone

Dr. Jana Mohr Lone

Joyce Kelly

Joyce Kelly

Jenna Daube

Jenna Daube

Kathleen B. King, Ph.D.

Kathleen B. King, Ph.D.

Haripriya Mehta

Haripriya Mehta

Bhagirath Mehta

Bhagirath Mehta

Dr. Doug Bolton

Dr. Doug Bolton

Organizational Partners

Teach Different partners with individuals, schools and non-profit organizations on the local and national level to promote critical thinking and civil dialogue in our Conversation Project.

 

The Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities
The Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities is the oldest independent college association in the nation. The Federation is an advocacy organization that represents the public policy interests of Illinois’ non-profit colleges and universities.
Plato
The Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization nurtures young people’s curiosity, critical thinking, and desire to explore big questions, through philosophy and ethics programs for students, educators, and families.
Teach Different
Founded by practicing teachers in 2017, Teach Different is a Chicago-based startup that provides professional development to educators in discussion-based techniques for the classroom.
Inquiry Partners
Inquiry Partners works with students and educators to develop the questions and dispositions needed to solve problems, think critically and build social-emotional (SEL) skills. Five key inquiry strategies guide or work. We prioritize joy every step of the way.
Illinois Institute of Independent Colleges and Universities
The Illinois Institute of Independent Colleges and Universities was established in 1982 with a broad mandate to strengthen private higher education in Illinois through research, fundraising and other collaborative activities.
Republic Foundation
Founded in 2009 by teachers, writers and artists, Republic Foundation is a Chicago-based, non-profit organization that supports professional development of teachers and leadership development of underserved youth.
Mighty Networks
The technology used by the Conversation Project is powered by Mighty Networks. Mighty is a cultural software platform that allows any person, brand, or organization to build a community with content, courses, commerce, and more.
TeachFX
TeachFX's mission is to promote more meaningful and equitable classroom dialogue by superpowering teachers’ work — using technology to provide educators with regular, automated feedback on their practice.

Where we have been

The Conversation Project has trained over 2,000 educators and impacted 30,000 students across five continents.

Workshops and Conferences

Date: July, 2023
Where:  National Association of Secondary School Principals Conference, Denver, Colorado

Date: July 2023
Where: Illinois Education Association Summer Leadership Academy, Normal, Illinois (pending)

Date: April 2023
Where: Association of California School Administrators, North State Professional Development Conference, Reno, Nevada

Date: March 2023
Where: Illinois Education Association Representative Assembly, Rosemont, Illinois

Date: February 2023
Where: Chapters International Worldwide 2-Day Workshop

Date: January 2023
Where: McHenry High School Social Studies workshop, Crystal Lake, Illinois

Date: January 2023
Where: Lake County Regional Office of Education Administrator Academy

Date: November 2022
Where: Proficio Special Education Conference, Oak Lawn, Illinois

Date: November 2022
Where: Chapters International Worldwide 4-Day Workshop

Date: October, 2022
Where:  City-Wide Equity Conference, Reynoldsburg, Ohio

Date: March 2022
Where: Special Education Conference Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Date: January 2022
Where: Chapters International Worldwide Conference

Date: January, 2022
Where: Jackson, Mississippi

Date: November, 2021
Where: Proficio Education Conference

Date: November, 2021
Where: Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Date: October 2021
Where: Birdville ISD, Texas

Date: July, 2021
Where: Springfield, Illinois

Date: June 2021
Where: Birdville ISD, Texas

Date: April, 2021
Where: Oregon Council for the Social Studies – Portland, Oregon

Date: November, 2020
Where: Mid Hudson Social Studies Council

Date: 11:00am EST, November 14th, 2020
Where: 3-Step Method Webinar Series   Sign up here

Date: November 2020, December 2020, January 2021, February 2021, March 2021
Where: National Webinar Series

Date: November 2020
Where: Proficio Special Education Conference

Date: November, 2020
Where: Lake County Regional Office – Grayslake, Illinois

Date: September, 2020
Where: Folsom Middle School, Folsom, California

Date: July 2020
Where: Folsom Middle School, Folsom, California

Date: March 2020
Where: IEA-RA Rosemont, Illinois

Date: February, 2020
Where: DuPage Regional Office of Education – Wheaton, Illinois

Date: February, 2020
Where: Hindsight 20/20 McLean County – Bloomington, Illinois

Date: January, 2020
Where: Kinnikinnick CCSD #131 – Roscoe, Illinois

Date: March 2020
Where: University of Illinois at Springfield, Springfield, Illinois

Date: October 2019
Where: Online Webinar Hosted By National Council for the Social Studies

Date: October 2019
Where: Illinois Council of the Social Studies, Harper College

Date: August 2019
Where: Tri-Conference Event, McHenry High School, IL

Date: December 2018
Where: National Council for the Social Studies, Chicago, IL

Date: September 2018
Where: Ohio Center for Law Related Education, Columbus, OH

BIG QUESTIONS AND TECHNOLOGY = BIG POSSIBILITIES
Date: August 2018 Where: Tri-Conference Event, McHenry County, IL
TEACH THE RIGHT THING: ETHICS IN YOUR SOCIAL STUDIES CLASSROOM
Date:  December 2016 Where: National Council for the Social Studies, New Orleans, LA
TEACH LIKE SOCRATES: ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
Date:  June 2015 Where: National Council for the Social Studies, Washington D.C.