Collab Lab 11 Recap & Notes

We held our final Collab Lab for the 2016-17 school year on Thursday June 15th, where the topic for the evening was “Creating a culture of innovation in schools”.

We prompted the discussion with three questions:

  • What does a culture of innovation look like?
  • What stands in the way?
  • How can you create one anyway?

Our notes from the evening are below.  Thanks again to all who were able to join us.  It was a great group and a really interesting set of conversations!

Big Ideas

  • Innovation (continuous improvement) works in a system that instills a feeling of safety and encourages risk taking as a dedicated team.
  • Look for cross disciplinary problems that have meaning for students
  • Permission from the top for bottom up innovation
  • Autonomy allows bright spots which can then spread
  • Culture needs to come from school leadership
  • Use the right metrics
  • Start with what inspires the student

What does a culture of innovation look like?

  • Inquisitive
  • Focused risk taking
  • Failure is ok — fail forward
  • Collaboration
  • High engagement
  • interesting/fun
  • Student ownership of learning
  • Authentic
  • Healthy level of trust within the organization
  • Involvement
  • Empathetic
  • Public — welcomes feedback
  • There is a purpose and time for innovation
  • Innovation days — re-energizes staff
  • Hackathons — new products/committed block of time
  • Everyone drinks the Kool Aid
  • Encourage the design process
  • Inquirey
  • Opportunistic
  • Curiosity
  • What education means
  • Innovation is a value & aspiration, it does not equal effeciancy
  • One can innovate around people, process, technology
  • Leverage other resources, get kids involved
  • Cross domains
  • Power to the edge
  • Teams w/autonomy w/in safety construct
  • What is the smallest thing to start w/to start a feedback loop
  • Autonomy “fails” all the time– acknowledge failure, know it, work past it.
  • More difficult/important problems typically get less $$, time, resources
  • Teachers develop understanding about what’s happening in industry


What stands in the way

  • Taxpayer expectations
  • Teacher training
  • Uncertain ROI
  • Implementation Fidelity
  • Not everyone is innovative
  • It’s tough socially to be an innovator
  • Building (e.g. school) climate
  • Schools are structured to resist change
  • Mental models (of what school should look like)
  • Expectations of students, teachers
  • We train to technology rather problem solving/leadership
  • Are we selling it well?
  • Structure — no time to see what else is out there/what is possible
  • Scaling 35 x 5
  • It’s a big ledge to jump off of
  • Lack of courage to go off script
  • Lack “well functioning” partnerships w/industry
  • Those in charge of designing the system impact the level innovation capability
  • [Feeling that] “we’re looking good already”
  • Parents


How can you create one anyway?

  • Play to strengths
  • Give permission
  • Visit other rooms/schools
  • Use different metrics:
    • Engagement
    • 21st century skills
  • Focus on problems that matter to kids
  • Start with problems in school
  • Find a one off opportunity and then do it again
  • Show that it is valued by school/district leadership
  • Ask for something small at first
  • Transparency– get ahead of perception
  • Start as elective then tie into curriculum
  • Look for bright spots
  • Focus on interest in problems and who students need
  • Acknowledge self discovery
  • Leadership action
  • Organize PLCs
  • Align goals w/innovative initiatives
  • Focus on the real problem
  • Assemble the right people
  • Incentivise problem solving
  • Create a “Vision of the graduate”


2023-24 Collab Labs

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