15 hands-on ways to create a culture of innovation

Like most things, culture is a mindset. Our institutional mindsets will need to be reprogrammed in order to produce new environments and learning communities that are innovative and creative. Like anything transformational, this has to be a lifestyle and not a bumper sticker. Here are 15 more hands-on ways that we can lead a culture of innovation, creativity and community:

  1. Walk the walk and model lifelong learning – leaders need to blog, publish, use technology and social media, and ultimately demonstrate that we too are not afraid to keep learning, growing and pushing our own creativity.
  2. Start the school year off with culture, culture, culture. Learning will not be maximized until culture is established. Once established, revisit culture and evolve it on a regular basis. See SmartStart (Smart Start Your School Year).
  3. Breakaway from packaged and corporate curriculum and move more towards project-based learning and other inquiry-based practices.
  4. Recognize and reward innovation and creativity across all disciplines, stakeholders and endeavors.
  5. Host, coordinate and facilitate school wide challenges, contests, competitions related to projects and other endeavors that require creativity.
  6. Allow students to solve school and real world problems.
  7. Add and create new elective courses, intercessions or lame duck days where teachers can create short or long-term experiences related to their passions, interests and sense of creativity (Lame Duck School Days).
  8. Throw wrenches into schedules, routines, expectations and past practices.
  9. Change the physical environment – new spaces, technology and situations may induce new ideas, collaboration an inspiration (Six Must Have Learning Spaces for PBL)
  10. Foster and encourage projects of passion, student voice and choice – (org) and (20time in Education).
  11. Defend young people at all costs to all other stakeholders – we can not tear down youth in order to build them up.
  12. Allow teachers and students to own learning by having them take on various roles in school projects, governance and more.
  13. Move away from outdated policies and practices that emphasize formality as the path to respect versus developing relationships.
  14. Study culture outside of education – cutting edge companies, non-profit organizations and others.
  15. Make public commitments and promises related to innovation and creativity.

–Michael Niehoff


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