Assuming apathy—the key to making a training manual not feel like a training manual.


Print Design, Brand System

Creative Team
Garet Camella, Taylor Corbett

What about apathy?

No one wants to read a manual unless they have to—only if your car breaks down or you’re deep in the weeds of setting up IKEA furniture. So when we began designing a manual for educators teaching a government-mandated summer school program, we made room for the possibility that they might be apathetic, overwhelmed or skeptical.

Sure, some teachers would be excited at the prospect of learning a new curriculum, but we leaned into designing for the extremes—we created the manuals as if they were catered directly to the most apathetic of teachers. And it worked. 

We figured teachers might be thinking "What is the NaliniKIDS program and why should I be excited to teach it, let alone read 80 pages about it?"

Expanding & adjusting

From its intimate start in 2008 until about 2016, NaliniKIDS was facilitated in schools by a small team that  trained teachers on an individual basis. When the NYC Department of Education took notice of the program in 2016, the resulting partnership caused NaliniKIDS to quickly grow from a handful of active schools to hundreds of active schools around New York City. Since its intimate training model wouldn’t scale, NalinKIDS needed to make its program accessible to teachers whom its staff might never meet in person.

Making it accessible

The solution to on-boarding hundreds of teachers was designing a physical NaliniKIDS program manual that would not only inform teachers, but also ask them to participate. Written and physical activities, alongside reading, would help new teachers experience the program similarly to their students.

A glance at our process

01. Receiving manual copy via Google Doc
02. Reading copy + suggesting edits to improve comprehension + layout
03. Sketching layouts on grid paper + seeking feedback/approval
04. Drafting copy, graphic elements, and placeholder images in InDesign 
05. Finding + placing final images, adding final copy + edits

Five different manuals

01. a variant for STEM-aligned summer schools
02. a variant for STEM-aligned summer schools
03. a variant for summer school Instructional Leaders (school admins)
04. a version for the non-summer-school, full year program