Start with educators:
Give educators a lead role in the innovation process with support and input from leadership and parents. After families, educators know students best. They are also the primary implementers of any effort to impact students in schools. Giving educators an active role and voice in the innovation process will lead to better solutions, better buy-in and ultimately stronger implementation.
Root Change in priorities, needs and challenges — Then determine solutions:
So many change efforts start with a solution determined by a small subset of stakeholders. This happens often without a clear understanding of the true need or problem they are seeking to solve and whether or not the solution meets the most important needs of other stakeholders critical to successful implementation.
Innovate within existing policies first:
More opportunity exists to innovate on conventional school structures and the student learning experience within existing policies than is commonly believed. Often, assumptions around how schools must look and operate limit the belief in what's possible as much as policy, at least initially. Starting small, within existing policies, enables schools and districts to engage in innovation in a way that is less overwhelming and threatening while also challenging pre-existing assumptions, laying the foundation for deeper transformation.
Adapt existing solutions to local needs and context:
Many promising solutions and models exist but aspects may not work in certain contexts or fit within the vision local leaders and educators have for their schools. Schools can not be expected to adopt other models wholesale nor should they have to start from scratch to develop solutions that meet their needs. Instead, schools can identify, adapt and integrate existing solutions to the challenges they've identified in their context.
Broaden awareness of policY IMpact and Build Support for Change:
Initiatives that lead with policy change, though well-intentioned, are often met with concern and resistance due to anxieties around how they will impact students and educators. By beginning the innovation process first, local stakeholders can see and experience policies that inhibit change that is better for kids and that they want in their schools.