After conducting a survey and doing research into the wicked problem of scaling innovation in schools, I created an infographic about exactly what makes this challenge so difficult to solve for (e.g., time, leadership, culture, and professional development).
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After further research and evaluation of what makes scaling innovation difficult, a colleague and I co-authored a white paper with some policy recommendations that could have an impact in schools. The paper works to address the issue strategically and distribute the workload, so that the recommendations could be implemented, even on a small scale, in schools right away.
Although these recommendations might not work in every school context, they are hopefully a place to start and can offer some insights and inspiration to educators who want to create sustainable models and positions for supporting innovation in schools and scaling that work to have a national reach.
Are you working to scale innovation in your classroom, in your school, your district, or state? Let’s connect and see if together, we can take action, and implement some of these ideas to test out a first iteration of scaling innovation in our contexts.
Last week, I was challenged to create a survey to send out to my community of practice to help increase my understanding and knowledge of a wicked problem of practice (WPP). WPPs are identified each year in the Horizon Reports and I had chosen to examine the problem of “scaling innovation” that was discussed in 2015. This WPP felt particularly relevant to me because I co-facilitated a session at SXSWedu last year of the same name and my current role involves a lot of work to try and scale innovation slowly in my own school context and beyond via global initiatives.
Luckily, I had support in tackling such a tricky problem. I am working with another educator (an awesome teacher in VA!) for this project, which will culminate with a white paper. We decided that it would be informative to send the same survey to both of our school communities, since we work in very different settings (i.e,. private and public schools), and also to our PLNs. We made this choice because we felt that in order to truly gain a deeper understanding of scaling innovation and how and why it is a WPP, we needed to talk to a larger, more diverse population that could inform us about issues that would affect scaling or growing innovation beyond any one school or geographic area.
We crafted questions that would help us understand the background data of our participants, as well as their interest towards innovation, and the challenges they might be experiencing when trying to scale it or create change. Check out this Google Doc for my analysis of the survey results.
Ultimately, we found that over 90% of participants believe their schools need to innovate and these educators are willing to help make that happen.
Yet, they still face large challenges, such as time, funding, and culture and there are also large gaps between what educators are aware of in terms of innovative practice and what they have (and possibly are able) to implement, possibly due to constraints they named in the survey.
This suggests that scaling innovation truly is a wicked problem that involves a huge range of variables and has no “right” or “wrong” answer but must be endlessly explored because each effort to scale innovation is unique and novel. Are you working to scale innovation in your school? What ideas have you explored or prototyped?
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