Cultivating an innovation mindset in the classroom
As the landscape of the work environment changes, the Generation Do-It-Yourself (#GenDIY) campaign provides ideas and resources to young adults who are looking to identify what is important to them and turn their passions into a rewarding career. Developing an innovation mindset is a common theme for #GenDIY. According to GenDIY, people who have innovation mindsets possess qualities such as “perseverance, initiative, collaboration, tenacity, and curiosity.” How can classroom teachers give students opportunities to develop an innovation mindset and build these important skills?
Model an innovation mindset in your classroom. In our social media focused world, we often see only pictures or posts that reflect perfection. In reality, innovation is messy. Our students need to see examples of the mess. Are you trying something in class that is innovative, yet outside your comfort zone? Tell your students! In my experience, students get excited when they hear they are part of something new. Did you work through any failures? Tell your students! They need to hear that ideas don’t always work the first time. When issues arise during class, ask the students for input on how to fix the problem. Last year, I created a 3D printing project that required students to design and test the strength of an object. Student designs went in a different direction than I expected, and testing became difficult in the limited time we had for the project. My students took the testing issues in stride and came up with some helpful suggestions for next year to prevent issues with testing. Because students were part of the innovation, they took ownership of making the final product better.
Implement Project-Based Learning (PBL) or Challenge Based Learning (CBL) in your classroom. Many students are interested in a career that enables them to make a positive impact on society. PBL and CBL are perfect frameworks for projects that give students an opportunity to apply material they are learning to solve a societal problem. Short on time? Running even one PBL or CBL project each year provides an important opportunity for students to collaborate with their peers, gather requirements, use design thinking, design, and test solutions, make revisions based upon testing, and present to an audience. If your school has a makerspace, further spark student innovation by working on the projects in that space. If the project impacts your school or community, ask school officials or community members to provide requirements and constraints, invite them to the presentation, and ask for their feedback at the end of the project. A wonderful extension that hits on entrepreneurism would be working on how to get the solution to market.