Two powerhouses up today answering one of my most favorite questions. Everyone loves a good initiative right? My problem is that starting line. I need a catalyst, a jumping off point. Otherwise I am all inspired and no where to go! Luckily, George Couros, the author of Innovators Mindset, your go to book on innovation, contributed to today’s question, as well as Matt Arend, an award winning, transformational principal at Sigler Elementary in Plano, Texas. Matt’s digital presence for his campus is an example to all, check out his hashtag #SiglerNation on Twitter and you’ll see exactly what I mean!
#askanadmin Q5: Where do I even start to build a culture of innovation?
People talk about “a culture of innovation”, and far too often focus on the word “innovation” rather than the word “culture”. To create this type of culture, it starts with grounding relationships. Creating spaces where educators know that they are all working towards a shared vision, but have the autonomy on how to travel that path.
If you believe George Couros’ definition of innovation as “a way of thinking that creates something new and better” I believe that starts with relationships, trust and developing a culture where teachers are willing to take risks because they know there is no threat of getting their hand slapped by an administrator for “doing things differently”. On the contrary, teachers know when risks are taken, they are going to be celebrated for trying to make something new and better.
Before we can expect to develop a culture where innovation takes place, leaders must develop a culture where relationships are the priority. Leaders must get to know their teachers. Get to know their strengths. Get to know their fears. Get to know how they want to better themselves as people and professionals. Easier said than done. This is the work that matters most. This does not happen over night, but over time and through modeling and leading by example, the relationships and trust that have been established makes the risks teachers are willing to take or need to be supported to take happen. Welcome to teacher empowerment!
As leaders and teachers begin to work together and celebrate the empowerment, you move from pockets of innovation to a campus full of or a culture of innovation because no teacher wants to be the one not doing what is best for students when the rest of the campus is having such a great time making the aspirations of one another and of their students a reality!
They make it sound so easy, don’t they?? 🙂 What steps will you take, or what questions will you be asking this year to help get your campus on a path to an innovative culture?