When undertaken in the classroom, design thinking teaches youth to confidently solve complex problems and lays the foundation for them to become the innovators and creative thinkers we need to tackle the problems of the 21st century (Carroll et al., 2010). While the application of this approach in the classroom is gaining more traction and popularity, the best practices for implementation are sometimes less clear. When bringing design thinking to schools, there is no magic formula or baseline curriculum because the context for implementation varies so widely. The subject matter, grade level, classroom norms, curricular objectives, and a whole host of other variables can either support or constrain a teacher’s effort to begin this new practice in her classroom. Although these contextual features shape the effectiveness of design thinking for student learning, my work with students and teachers has helped me identify several key ideas in this approach that are relevant regardless of context. Following is a brief discussion of my journey to design thinking, after which I present each of these fundamental understandings and discuss their relevance for those interested in leveraging design thinking as a pedagogical tool.