A debate I've been having recently is whether teachers have to first experience and get "on board" with the ideas of innovation happening in the school environment and its benefits for student learning or whether students first need to be exposed to and supported in developing the skills needed to innovate?
I think it's probably a chicken or egg type dilemma and the best approach might be a yes, and ... yes, get teachers on board and support students in developing those skills. Yet realistically, we might have to just choose one to get started.
I think a powerful option could be - start by giving teachers time to practice being innovative and creative at school, during work time, in a supportive, fail-forward environment.
Who: Teachers (with administrative support)
What: Give teachers time, at least one day a month (or at least one faculty meeting), to work together in various teams to engage in creative and innovative thinking. Some of the day could be spent learning tools and mindsets, such as design thinking, bias towards action, empathy interviews and part of the day would be spent practicing those ideas and getting feedback.
When: I think it's important to use time teachers have already set aside for schoolwork so using professional days and faculty meetings seems like the best place to start. If those aren't feasible, a school could explore early morning breakfast meetings or Saturdays, but I think some kind of extra layer of motivation would be needed to make the experience (and time away from home) meaningful. Part of my thinking behind this is that this work is laying the foundation for what will be done with students and modeling that innovative thinking can (and should!) happen during school.
Where: Innovation Time would happen at school, hopefully in a mix of makerspaces, innovation labs, classrooms, and other spaces that encourage hands-on discovery, exploration and failure, and testing ideas in real learning spaces.
Why: I think this idea could be powerful in both celebrating and motivating innovation because it would dedicate time and resources to the work, demonstrating to teachers that the school considers it worth the investment and a valuable use of their time and energy. The work that is done during this time could be evaluated using a system similar to what Brett suggested in "Innovation Meters" and maybe teachers could earn badges to recognize their skill development and project work, which could then be shown off to students (again modeling their value and importance) and celebrated by administrators. This time could also be used to create, get feedback on, and iterate innovative lesson plans teachers can start using right away and projects they can implement the following school year. If their work during Innovation Time is documented throughout the year using digital storytelling, it could become a great way for the school to highlight its innovative work and draw attention, as well as future collaborators and provide a prompt for teachers to review and reflect on their learning.
Great initial prototype by Jess: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1b0koyqOyoznmq-OP1mQTcga8PDC29tCTjocDGA-NsUQ/edit?usp=sharing