How we got here

The Teach Different Method is a conversation protocol 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, a worldwide pandemic 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.

Who we are

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 been a high school social studies teacher since 1993 in the Chicagoland area, teaching US history, AP government, American studies and, most recently, a philosophy elective which I designed in 2011.  I have an undergraduate degree from Bradley University, a graduate degree in education and social policy from Northwestern University and an administrative certificate from North Central College’s graduate educational leadership program.

Outside of the classroom, I’ve presented extensively at the state and national level on inquiry-based instruction 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 important job of a teacher is to create an environment where students listen to each other, feel connected and ask their own questions. A well organized conversation achieves this ideal better than any other tool. The byproducts of a conversation experience are compassion, understanding and a collective sense of belonging. This is the soil for academic learning.

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 make us aware that our voices really do matter in the world. We need conversations now more than ever.

Twitter @iteachdifferent @dmfouts

Where we are going


A world led by educators where everyone has the courage to speak, listen and understand. 

What we do


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


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


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


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

Date: August 2018 Where: Tri-Conference Event, McHenry County, IL
Date:  December 2016 Where: National Council for the Social Studies, New Orleans, LA
Date:  June 2015 Where: National Council for the Social Studies, Washington D.C.