According to a 2018 national survey on education innovation by the Education Week Research Center, roughly two-thirds of school principals and three-quarters of district administrators expect innovation to be a high or very high priority in the future.
The motives that are driving education leaders to innovate vary depending on their specific role. For example, while school principals are most likely driven by the goal to improve student achievement, most district leaders prioritize the “need to keep pace with the changing economy and the skills students need for employment.”
For these education leaders, the inspiration and insight for innovative projects come from a variety of sources including their colleagues and peers, technology community and advocacy, as well as nonprofit organizations and the business community. However, the most commonly cited source (57 percent) of inspiration to innovate by education leaders is colleagues and peers.
The survey also revealed interesting insights regarding the resources that education leaders need in order to be more innovative. Among the top cited needs are more funding and more time for brainstorming or learning.
So how can education leaders support innovation in their schools despite lack of resources?
MindShift, an NPR/PBS member station podcast that covers the future of learning, offers four ways school leaders can support meaningful innovation according to an article by Justin Reich. These four tips can help school leaders approach innovation by helping teachers move through the cycle of iteration — trying out what works — in a way that is more effective, efficient and enjoyable:
- Communicate to teachers your support and understanding of the time and effort it takes to trial and error new initiatives.
- Organize opportunities for teachers to observe each other’s classrooms and jointly examine and discuss sample pieces of student work.
- Create knowledge sharing opportunities — short, informal gatherings, that may include snacks — where teachers can take turns sharing their work with each other.
- While encouraging experimentation, support guided innovation by establishing a shared vision and instructional language.
Students pursuing an online Doctorate in Education Leadership at William Woods University will take courses such as EDU 750 – Organizational Learning & System Change. Innovation often requires change. This course focuses on approaches to the change process that utilize the strengths of personal and organizational behaviors, systems thinking and leadership skills. Through this course, students will learn concepts and theories that can help them manage innovative change in their educational organizations. The course will leverage case studies, experiential exercises, dialogue and group activities to interact with the pedagogy and concepts learned during the course.