InnovateK12 Newsletter: January 10, 2020
Welcome to 2020, InnovateK12 friends! I hope you are as excited as we are to see how far we can move the needle on innovative thinking in the year ahead. The headwinds that our community is facing in its effort to challenge the status quo in K-12 education is strong, so it’s important that we support each other and provide resources that can help. So let’s get started!

For those of you who are new to the InnovateK12 community, our brand of innovation isn’t focused on technology or shiny new objects - instead we focus on the power of educators to work collaboratively and creatively to solve some of the most persistent problems in our classrooms today. We emphasize concepts like the power and wisdom of the crowd (think Kickstarter and GoFundMe) as well as the dignity of human-centered design or Design Thinking (Thank you, Stanford!) . Mix in some lean prototypes, and you have a recipe for awesome internal disruption!

We still have a long way to go before we get there, but we know one thing for certain... we can’t do it without you! Thanks for joining us on this journey and helping us spread the word. If you feel that it’s time to take the next step and become a member of InnovateK12, that would be fantastic. We’d love to have you!

We also love to hear from you on social media, so don’t forget to include #innovatek12 when you share your amazing stories of courageous innovative leadership.
The InnovateK12 Toolkit™

Where are we in the innovation cycle?
DESIGNED FOR LEARNING : In case you haven’t heard... something exciting happened at the New England Association for Schools and Colleges annual conference in Burlington (MA). At this year’s NEASC event, the leadership team placed their conference focus squarely on accreditation goal #1: School Culture . And the key strategy for achieving a positive school culture? Design Thinking .

This alignment comes as no surprise to members of the InnovateK12 community. An important component of Design Thinking is the way in which this approach to problem-solving empowers all those involved in ways that elevate a school culture or classroom culture. 

Today’s school leaders are turning to Design Thinking as a leadership strategy because it resonates with Gen Z and Millennials ( read more )

CRITICAL: BUILDING AN INNOVATION TEAM: One question that we get asked quite often at InnovateK12 is how to build an innovation team. This is a key step in the process, and it requires that you design with careful intention. Getting the right chemistry on your team is essential to early-stage success, and you may find that your needs shift as your work becomes more sophisticated or operational.
Whether you're launching from a district perspective or from a site perspective, it's important for a senior leader to organize and lead the Innovation Team. Organizing and empowering this team is an important step in the process. 
As a reference to the second step of John Kotter’s eight-step change model, let’s refer to this team as the Guiding Team because they will guide the process ( read more ).

INNOVATION. BUZZWORD OF THE DECADE? Here’s how Planview Spigit opened their 2019 annual report: 

Innovation. Perhaps the most often heard and spoken word in corporate meeting rooms. Wired Magazine called innovation “The Most Important and Overused Word in America” and The Wall Street Journal declared innovation to be “a strong contender for the crown of business buzzword of the decade.” Yet innovation is also this decade’s imperative. 

So, how do you go beyond the buzz and breathe innovation into every corner of your company? How do you take innovation and broaden its meaning from something you talk about to something you do, every day? 

Bold? A little bit. But I like it. When you lead a company with the word “innovation” in the name, you have to suffer through more than your fair share of eye-rolls. But sometimes the truth hurts. Especially in education, where people will either roll their eyes or, even worse, offer a blank stare.

Most of the InnovateK12 community knows that we use Spigit as our idea-management software to drive our innovation events, but not everyone realizes how many Fortune 100 companies use the very same software to guide innovation behind their firewalls. Either way, their 2019 report is worth a look ( read more ).

GROWING THE INNOVATEK12 NETWORK: I realize we just made fun of the word “innovation” in the previous post, but wait... there’s more: 

In Fall 2019, InnovateK12 President and Co-Founder Eric Schneider sat down with Rebecca Reed and talked about the growth of the InnovateK12 network and the need for more innovation in today’s schools. Here’s how she introduced the conversation...

Innovation. One of the most important, yet overused buzzwords of the last decade. It might just hold the keys to school transformation and deeper student learning, but what do we really mean when we say the word? And how can schools actually build it into their culture in a way that's sustainable? In this episode I talk with Eric Schneider, President and Co-Founder of InnovateK12 about accessing the transformative power of innovation in districts, schools, and classrooms. Innovate K12 starts with the premise that the greatest sources of innovation are the stakeholders closest to students: teachers, administrative staff, custodians, bus drivers, principals - and students themselves. When these stakeholders are equally engaged through a crowd-sourcing process, you start to see magic happen.

You can find the podcast on our website’s media page.

DOUBLING DOWN ON NETWORKS: It’s the time of year for predictions, so we don’t want to miss the opportunity. One of our favorite media outlets for innovation in K-12 education is the Clayton Christensen Institute . Christensen’s book The Innovator’s Dilemma is considered by many to be required reading, and the researchers working at the institute do a great job of pushing the envelope. 
Two years ago, Christensen Institute author and researcher Julia Freeland Fisher predicted that networks would be an important innovation in the K-12 space. In 2020, she doubles down on this prediction. Take a look…

Over a decade ago, Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen took his theory of Disruptive Innovation from the boardroom to the K-12 classroom. Observing the rapid rise of online courses, he predicted that online learning would radically shift education in the 21st century. Since then, the U.S. K-12 edtech market has ballooned in the past decade to an estimated $7 billion. 

At its simplest, Disruptive Innovation theory describes how organizations harness technology to make a product or service more accessible to more people. Disruptive innovations start off simple and affordable. Over time, they improve to eventually overtake mainstream offerings. 

Online learning has followed suit (
Membership in the InnovateK12 Network
If you’re ready to move forward with a crowd-based or human-centered approach to innovation, then check out the different use-cases below to find the best on-ramp for your school or district. Click on each to read more. Questions? Contact us!

There are more use cases listed on our website.

Building a Grassroots Culture of Innovation in Today's Schools
NETWORK UPDATES: So many exciting things have been happening with our InnovateK12 members. And yet, the event season is not even over! Check out the following members who are still running events!

  • Indian Prairie School District - Staff Event
  • Saline Area Schools - Staff Event
  • Waconia Public Schools - Staff Event
  • Eden Prairie Schools - Staff and Student Events
  • Fort Thomas Independent Schools - Staff Event
  • Hill-Murray School - Staff Event
  • Sitka School District - Students, Staff and Community Event

While the event season is not over yet, the numbers on our crowdsourcing platform are impressive with over 7,500 registered users, 1,411 ideas and 1,875 comments! Congratulations to all event participants so far. You are changing PreK-12 education one idea and comment at a time!

COMING UP! INNOVATEK12 SOLUTION HUB: We are launching the next phase of our work with districts: building a shared repository of innovative projects. We are calling this our "Solution Hub"! Interested in sharing a project or sponsoring a project page? Contact Kristin for details!