InnovateK12 Newsletter: November 26, 2019
Happy Thanksgiving, Friends!

We're bracing ourselves for a November snow storm, but that doesn't stop us from being grateful for all of you innovative educators who are out there making schools better for students! Thanks for all that you do!

The headwinds (or snow storms) you're facing are real, and there’s often a common, troubling reason why school districts struggle to make progress on strategic initiatives...the lack of ownership on the part of frontline staff. The traditional planning process doesn't typically involve frontline staff in a meaningful way, and the solutions often feel like they're falling from the sky. In other words, frontline staff don’t feel a connection to the most important aspirational goals of the organization.

And that's not good.

You may think of this as a communications problem, or you may feel as though your training efforts are insufficient. But the fact is that in today's super-connected world, frontline staff expect to have a voice in these important conversations. And when you don't include them, you're missing out on a fantastic opportunity. Read more.

Build Trust and Engagement
A long-term commitment to frontline engagement and distributed leadership is the cornerstone of 21st century leadership. Running an "open challenge" with the full I nnovateK12 crowd-based ideation, design thinking and lean toolkit every year will build trust between frontline staff and leadership. When frontline staff see their ideas gaining the support of leadership, they start to get excited about the future! Learn More
Uncover New Opportunities for Growth
Many of InnovateK12's members use our platform to drive staff engagement on key strategic initiatives. They often do this by using the fall event as a "Focus Challenge," using one or more aspects of the strategic plan as a prompt for staff ideas. It's a great way to build ownership and excitement for your strategic efforts! Our good friends at  TeamWorks International  have been providing important leadership for districts engaged in strategic planning over the years, and we're looking for a chance to collaborate with a district that is interested in combining the best of InnovateK12's toolkit with the expertise from TeamWorks.  Learn More

Inspire Student Innovation
When students are given the opportunity to share their ideas for school improvement along with the support from leadership to act on their top ideas, the impact is significant. Students who experience this level of efficacy begin to feel the power of innovation to change not only their lives, but the lives of everyone. Learn More
Build Site-Level Leadership
Teaching your leaders how to build trust through empowering frontline staff will help get them ready to lead a crowd-based innovation event. When they are ready, running an open challenge every year will build trust between frontline staff and your leaders. When frontline staff see their ideas gaining the support of leadership, they start to get excited about the possibilities. Learn More
INACOL REBRANDS AS AURORA At this year’s iNACOL Symposium: Shining a Light on the Future of Learning, INACOL President Susan Patrick simultaneously inspired and challenged attendees to go deeper into the world of student-centered learning. During her opening remarks, she estimated that as many as 10% of all schools have made a commitment to transformational personalized learning. The most important takeaway from InnovateK12’s perspective was the powerful thread of professional agency that is woven through this event. Educational leaders and organizations that present at iNACOL (now called Aurora) believe in the power of teacher voice, and the breakout sessions were clear evidence of this core value. Hats off to InnovateK12 member Prior Lake/Savage for their presentation at this year’s event!

AN EDU-TWIST ON DESIGN THINKING: In the early 2000s something new appeared on the education scene, adapted from the worlds of innovation and business where it was developed. It was called, simply and descriptively, design thinking . Unlike some education trends, it didn’t catch on overnight. During the first fifteen years or so, implementation of design thinking in K-12 schools was a slow, steady progression. Yet in the past few years, it’s picked up a lot of steam. Still, certain misconceptions abound—and it’s not always easy to adapt this to a K-12 environment.

Earlier this summer, I traveled to Dallas to participate in a training on design thinking led by staff from Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, better known as the, which pioneered the approach. While at the training, I had a chance to speak with teachers who have been using design thinking in their work for quite some time. They shared many incredible stories of design thinking in action. However, it was the challenges these teachers continue to face—and their ability to recognize them and adapt their design thinking practice—that were even more interesting. Read More
The InnovateK12 Toolkit™
“There are challenges to design thinking because the journey is shifting the way one teaches. Teachers are embracing a new mindset which includes growth, reflection and failure.
They become designers.”

- Laura McBain, Stanford’s K12 Lab Director of Community and Implementation
Design Thinking + Lean
NEED A DESIGN WORKSHOP FACILITATOR? If you’re planning for Design Thinking Workshops this winter but would rather participate than facilitate, then consider hiring a member of the InnovateK12 team to facilitate your workshops for you! This is also a great opportunity to give your staff on-site training in InnovateK12's unique combination of design thinking and lean engineering and help them develop affordable solutions to strategic challenges. Learn More

Connect with InnovateK12

DECEMBER 5-6, 2019 If you’re planning to attend the 2019 New England Association of Schools and Colleges , InnovateK12 President Eric Schneider will address the attendees at lunch on Thursday, December 5th. He will also be on-site as an event sponsor to meet with school and district leaders who are interested in learning more about the InnovateK12 network. Schedule a time to meet at the conference.

DECEMBER 16, 2019 - Minnesota Meet-Up! Connect with us at the Impact Education Conference by Sourcewell Technology (formerly TIES)! We will be hosting a happy hour at Lakes and Legends Brewing Company on Monday, December 16th from 4-6pm. This is just a 5 minute walk from the Hyatt in Minneapolis. Come join us for our top ten list, door prizes, good conversation and of course beer! 

APRIL 1-3, 2020 - Learning to Improve on the West Coast. Consider joining us at the 7th annual Carnegie Foundation Summit on Improvement in Education taking place in SF on April 1-3, 2020. This three-day event brings together a diverse and vibrant community of educators, researchers, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and policymakers dedicated to accelerating improvement in education. Summit attendees choose from more than 100 breakout sessions led by leaders in the field. They may also select from pre-conference courses that explore how to efficiently and effectively apply evidence-based knowledge to the continuous process of solving practical, on-the-ground problems. And NEW for 2020, Summit attendees can also engage in full-day site visits to education and healthcare improvement enterprises in advance of the general conference.