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Positive Deviance for Educators

The K12 Lab at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design ( at Stanford University aims to obliterate opportunity gaps in K-12 education by designing new, more equitable models and sharing design approaches with students and educators.

The Lab serves as a catalyst for creative confidence in K-12 education through: workshops, events, and resources for K-12 educators all over the world; experiments with new educational models; and courses and other learning experiences for the Stanford community.

Resource spotlight



For users new to the positive deviance model who want to learn more.



For users who are ready to try a positive deviance activity in their school.



For users who are ready to implement a full positive deviance process in their schools or districts.


The Positive Deviance Toolkit for Educators has been downloaded over 800 times. We are eager to learn how schools are using these tools to advance their equitable use of data.

Our Seeking Brightspots website provides an introduction to positive deviance video and activities for three entry points into the positive deviance process.

Background information

In 2020, the K12 Lab began exploring positive deviance, a community-driven problem solving approach that looks to local positive outliers for sustainable, scalable solutions to intractable problems. The team included Jess Brown, Marc Chun, sam seidel, Peter Worth, and Devon Young. Our goal was to explore how positive deviance, through the lens of human-centered design and equity, might complement measurement, improvement practices, and pedagogical approaches educators are using, to make it easier for school communities to use data to create more equitable learning environments.

With the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, we developed a 10-week virtual professional learning fellowship to test prototypes and tools related to the application of positive deviance in a school setting. This was attended by 15 school teams from nine countries and we collected the resulting resources in a self-guided free Positive Deviance Toolkit for Educators.

We’ve learned that educators need varied ways of trying this work to find authentic connections and make it “stick.” Even with a user-friendly toolkit, getting started can feel overwhelming. In this public goods project, we sought to create a more accessible set of activities and low barrier-to-entry tools that educators can use to immerse themselves in the positive deviance process without needing to commit to a long-form project. We hope that these varied and accessible pathways will enable them to get started, and ultimately experience the power of this asset-based approach to problem solving.

Contact Information

For more information on the Positive Deviance for Educators Project, please contact Devon Young.

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