“Launching Innovation in Schools”, an online teaching course offered through MIT’s Teaching Systems Lab, offers a model of teaching best practice to propel innovative learning and teaching in schools. Professor Reich says the model for driving innovation in any industry is to “innovate through iterations”; to quickly put forward ideas, act on them, evaluate, improve or change and keep moving forward.
“The core thing we have to understand is that we’ve moved away from ‘ready, aim, fire’ to ‘ready, fire, aim’. You shoot things into the world, see where they land and then you figure out how to move and get closer and closer to your target. This [is the] idea of innovation through iteration; lots and lots of cycles, cycles that build on one another that spiral and grow.”
When it comes to good leadership that drives innovation in schools, Professor Reich said this concept could blossom if communities were brought together around common or shared values – especially in communities comprising of autonomous professionals like teachers.
“We need to deeply imagine learning and innovation as intertwined together and as a collaborative process with our communities, with lots of stakeholders.”
Innovation through iteration also means having to deal with and accept change regularly, which can be emotionally hard for many people.
He said in many senses this could mean loss on many levels, such as the loss of a habit, identity, a role played, which can result in friction.
Professor Reich says getting over this hurdle will involve working on a team’s ability to effectively listen to each other and collaborate to solve problems.
The final part of the innovate through iteration cycle before moving forward, is to measure and evaluate whether the implemented changes are truly working. This is a huge challenge in many parts of the education sector, says Professor Reich, but regular assessment and evaluation helps start the right conversations about the direction in which a school should be moving.
“Things don’t get better just by trying; they get better by trying, evaluating how we’re doing and moving forward from there.”