Learner-preneurship and Innovation – PLEASE share your thinking! #NOV8 #NAIS #NAIS2012

What are the conditions necessary for “learner-preneurship” in schools? How can we establish, maintain, sustain, and promote entrepreneurial-type innovation in the strategic designs, daily operations and purposeful activities that define “school?”

On December 28, I was blessed to receive a Twitter DM from Jamie Baker (@JamieReverb). Jamie has invited me to co-present at the NAIS 2012 Annual Conference, along with her other teammates Grant Lichtman (@GrantLichtman of The Falconer) and Lee Burns (@PDSHeadmaster). I am thrilled to join such a team of inspired educators and dynamic, innovative thinkers and doers.

W8. Move from “Why Innovate?” to “How?” — Become an Entrepreneurial School
Entrepreneurs know how to innovate. Discuss how to innovate at your school by developing the entrepreneur’s mindset in the board, head of school, administrators, teachers, and students. Cultivate understanding in the entrepreneur’s innovation process, building capacity by moving through resistance, and developing organizational habits of innovation.
PRESENTERS: Jamie Baker, Reverb Consulting (TN); A. Lee Burns, Presbyterian Day School (TN); Grant Lichtman, Francis Parker School (CA); Bo Adams, The Westminster Schools (GA)

For the next several weeks, I imagine that I will be writing and thinking even more deliberately and intentionally about innovation in schools. To write is to think, and I look forward to developing my thinking here in this blog and elsewhere.

Given that “WE are smarter than ME,” I am curious what you think about the opening questions in this blog post. Do you have ideas about what makes some schools more “learner-preneurial” and innovative than other schools? Do you have hypotheses, research, thoughts, and opinions about how innovation can become more nurtured in the ways that we work in schools? I hope you will take some time to share your thinking in the comments below – your resources, your ideas, your questions, your own blog posts and writings about the topic of innovation in schools. Here’s to our ideas colliding in a Steve Johnson coffee house of sorts.

Thanks for sharing. WE are smarter than ME!

PLEASE JOIN THE IDEATION HERE (and elsewhere)! On New Year’s Day, here’s to a 2012 full of innovative ideation and implementation!

Happy New Year! It’s About Learning!

[Note: An interesting story about the power of PLNs – I will meet Jamie Baker and Lee Burns for the first time face-to-face at our February 29 NAIS session. While we “know” each other online and while we will certainly video-conference in the weeks ahead, it is the power of “the world’s best faculty lounge” that has brought us together for this work!]

6 thoughts on “Learner-preneurship and Innovation – PLEASE share your thinking! #NOV8 #NAIS #NAIS2012

  1. Here’s one half-formed idea that comes to mind. The organizations that are most “learner-preneural” have leaders who possess two things—1. a deep connection with the day-to-day life of the school, and 2. A strong aspirational vision that extends beyond the day-to-day life of the school.

    If I may be so bold, you are a clear example of such a leader—you know the classroom incredibly well—you are, in fact, still teaching. You know the names of your students and faculty and work to engage them on many levels. You have a tremendous feel for the “pulse” of the junior high, down to the tiniest bits that might be weighting down a particular student or faculty member in the moment.

    I also think you have a vision that extends well beyond the day-to-day life of the school. While it’s easy to get bogged down in the quotidian, you manage to elevate your division with a vision beyond grades and achievement for its own sake, and instead lay out a vision for a complete transformation of education that calls on every student and faculty member to develop an love of learning and collaboration that empowers them to accomplish more than ever thought possible.

    As I type this, I think these two are essential to work in concert—if you don’t know the day to day experiences of your organization—if you struggle to identify students as you pass them in the hallways, spend more days off campus than on, or can’t really remember what it’s like to deliver a bomb of a lesson, dust yourself off, diagnose the problems, and walk right into another classroom trying to do it better the second time, I think you’ll have a hard time convincing the organization to follow your vision, no matter how good it may be.

    Similarly, if you’ve got no vision, but are fully immeshed in the day-to-day, you’ll spend most of your days putting out fires and marveling at disconnected bright spots without bringing them together.

    My experience tells me that these two qualities are exceedingly rare, especially at the highest echelons of leadership at independent schools today.

    • John,

      Thank you so very much for commenting and contributing to this thinking and hopeful conversation. I appreciate your thoughtful encouragement, too, about my leadership. I mostly see myself as some sort of hybrid among instrumentalist, gardener, coach and highway engineer. As principal learner, I am among the band/orchestra just as I would be as a principal violinist. I work to amend soil and prepare the land for healthy reaping and sowing. I encourage and support. I build infrastructure on which folks can travel. But it takes the whole orchestra. It takes the combination of furrows, sun, rain, and seeds. It takes the team of athletes. It takes the travelers and curious expeditioners. I have done nothing alone, and I may just be charged with being another thing from your teaching world – a fulcrum…a fulcrum that balances the day to day with the future possibilities. I am beholden to the Junior High in particular for the ways in which we all stretch and grow together. And I am beholden to you and the rest of my PLN. It takes us all.

      Thank you.

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