LEADS Reads: Bringing Innovation to School

This post is in response to Tracey Kracht’s LEADS Reads Challenge.

I just finished reading Bringing Innovation to School: Empowering Students to Thrive in a Changing World by Suzie Boss. It’s an excellent read with many great examples of how schools, businesses, and social entrepreneurs are using innovation to drive their success.

Summary & quotes:

In chapter 1, Boss clarifies innovation and explains why it’s important for today’s learners.

By leveraging their passions during the school day, we can give students more opportunities to connect what they are studying with the real-world issues they care about. That’s how students will define innovation on their own terms, as something that will enable them to shape their future. In the long run, engaging student passions may be our best strategy for bringing innovation to school.

In chapter 2, Boss details the first step in teaching students to innovate is making sure educators have opportunities to be innovators themselves.

  • Are you action oriented?
  • Do you know how to network?
  • Are you willing to take risks?
  • Can you look ahead?
  • Can you overcome obstacles?
  • Do you help good ideas grow?

In chapter 3, Boss looks at how classroom decisions, learning activities, and additional practices builds students’ innovation skills.

In chapter 4, Boss shares how one specific district is making a deliberate effort to seed innovation.

In chapter 5, Boss explains integrating design thinking throughout the curriculum and how innovative institutions show evidence of thoughtful design.

…have become adept at scaffolding students’ experience with both tools and tips that support active learning. They are also deliberate about preparing teachers to facilitate the innovation process.

In chapter 6, Boss provides examples of schools that are adjusting physical spaces and schedules (building more unstructured time into the school day) to make room for thinkers.

Thinking Space – Steps to consider:

  • Start with an elective
  • Offer 20-percent time
  • Go schoolwide

In chapter 7, Boss expresses how introducing students to engineering (and taking advantage of emerging technology such as 3-D printers) emphasizes key innovation strategies.

In chapter 8, Boss “shows how teachers are leveraging student interest in gaming to develop projects with real-world implications.”

Gaming – How to get started:

  1. Learn with colleagues
  2. Let students lead

In chapter 9, Boss shares how educators use professional networks to scale and spread good ideas, extending and improving upon effective strategies.

As you move forward with projects that encourage innovative thinking, share your experience so that others can learn with you, offer helpful feedback, and benefit from your reflections.

In chapter 10, Boss expresses the importance of taking action.

Transforming school into an environment that effortlessly breeds ideas requires concerted action. As we’ve seen in the many preceding examples, innovative educators aren’t waiting for the old system to give way before they try new approaches. They’re taking action now, within the constraints of standards and test scores, because they are determined to prepare students for the important work ahead of them.

This may cause you and your colleagues to confront hard questions, such as:

  • How tolerant is your community of out-of-the-box thinking?
  • Does your school encourage suggestions from multiple stakeholders (including students)?
  • Are you willing to challenge traditions if that will remove barriers to innovation?
  • What will success look like?

By building learning cultures that encourage innovation, these communities are unlocking the capacity of students and teachers alike to envision- and then go create- a more vibrant future.

I highly recommend the book for any educator!

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One thought on “LEADS Reads: Bringing Innovation to School

  1. I would highly recommend “The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter”. It gets to the essence of true leadership and excellence. Jeter ‘s abilities on and off the field were truly under appreciated.

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