Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Scaling Innovation in Schools: New Leadership Roles - 1 of n

#DTK12chat is an amazing Wednesday weekly twitter chat around the use of design thinking in K-12 education. But topics vary across a broad spectrum of innovative topics in education, including courageous creativity, “Maker” education, embracing failure, technology integration, and more.

On Wednesday Jan 28, we - Maggie Powers and Lindsey Own - co-moderated a #DTK12chat on scaling innovation in schools. The idea for this chat came out of our upcoming core conversation at SXSWedu - Scaling Innovation in Schools: New Leadership Roles. We’re both ultra excited about these new roles - Innovation Coach, Director of Learning Innovation, and more! - and are especially interested in figuring out the patterns in how these roles are being implemented. What have been the tangible benefits arising out of developing these roles? What are the best-practices that are emerging? What have been the pitfalls that early adopters have already begun solving?

Following the chat, Maggie posted a full-conversation Storify archive of the chat. A little later, Lindsey curated the tweets a bit more to get summaries of answers to each of the formal questions. This lost a bunch of the amazing side conversations, but hopefully captured the participants’ answers to the official chat questions.

Executive Summary of the Discussion

We agree that it is vital that PreK-12 education support learners in becoming change-agents, and learning to create and bridge knowledge rather than merely absorbing. We want our learners to learn to think flexibly, apply a growth mindset, and be human-centered in our world of diminishing human connection. These, essentially, are the desired outcomes of “innovative teaching and learning.”

Bringing innovation into schools can be a very challenging proposition, even if it is just into one’s own classroom! Therefore, scaling innovation across a whole institution takes some very deliberate action… In many institutions, it requires a major cultural shift towards collaboration rather than competition among faculty, and willingness to fail publicly, as administrators, as faculty, and an entire school community, and demonstrate the learning that comes from each failure.

From within the classroom, teachers can lead innovation through modeling, collaborating with colleagues, and making their students’ work - successes and failures - publicly visible. But having an individual in a formal role of supporting innovation school-wide can have greater impact: A single individual - who can keep a single pulse on programs across the whole school - can better see where the programs can go and how to inspire and connect others. In addition to providing scaffolding and follow-through support as colleagues take new risks in their teaching, that individual must first and foremost deeply believe in, model, and encourage learning from failure and growth through exploration.

A grand summary:

The Keys To Innovation might just be: willingness to fail, a culture of innovation throughout the school, a growth mindset, and perseverance perseverance perseverance.


To view my (probably excessive) question-by-question reflections of the conversation, you can check out this GDoc. Please leave comments, thoughts, questions, and suggestions for deepening this conversation, as we fully intend to continue it into our SXSWedu session and on and on as this role grows!

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