302 Thoughts: 3 Ideas About an Innovative School Culture That Really Work

by | Jun 27, 2022 | 0 comments

6 min read

In this episode of 302 Thoughts, Joe and T.J. dig into how leaders can implement, develop, and support innovation in schools by identifying three ideas that actually work for school leaders

Innovation in schools is often a byproduct of other areas of focus. For example, if schools purchase instructional technology, many leaders hope that the byproduct will be innovation. The fallacy in this approach is that the tool is the primary focus and not a culture of innovation beyond what the tool might provide. We know that computers and other devices alone don’t improve instruction or student performance nor will they be used with efficacy and excitement if the culture doesn’t already support innovation. 

However, in the right hands, those tools can completely transform a classroom. This is why innovation is so critical; it’s not a thing, but a value. By maintaining and fostering innovation as a value, we can permeate other areas of schooling and not just the obvious application of new tools, like technology. 

Other school practices demand innovative thinking. From human resources and creating innovative hiring practices to school discipline and bell schedules. Innovation is critical to reach greater heights of performance. This is why school leaders have to be intentional and embrace their role as the chief innovation officer. Remember, our definition of innovation: 

Any new idea, program, project, or initiative that enhances or alters what we used to do, creating something new and different.

This doesn’t mean that school leaders have to be the model innovator, but rather create the culture that nurtures it. To ensure that this happens, we offer a unique 3-part model to help school leaders think about what it means to create a culture of innovation.

Listen to Joe describe how great schools and its leaders don’t put a lid on innovation. The school must maintain innovation as a norm during meetings, professional learning, PLCs, all facets of the organization. 

T.J. explains how the three core areas of focus–diversity, open dialogue, and risk-taking–are essential. 

  • Diversity: Diversify the staff and other teams for new and unique thinking.
  • Open Dialogue: Create norms where new ideas are free-flowing in safe spaces. 
  • Risk-Taking: Encourage staff to take calculated risks and learn from their experiences. 

Lastly, they describe how schools cannot only focus on the WHY, and the reasons for something, but also embrace a “bias for action” and develop a culture of TRY.

T.J. and Joe always provide the how with the what, enabling school leaders to lead better and grow faster. To become a CIO in your school, try the following:

  • Look at your teams through a diversity lens. 
  • Ensure meetings allocate time to discuss innovative ideas and practices.
  • Praise effort and encourage persistence. 

We conclude this month’s 302 Thoughts with this quote from Peter Drucker, “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”

Let us know if there’s a topic you want us to cover by leaving a comment below or by contacting us at contact@dereka206.sg-host.com. And don’t miss our leadership newsletter every week by subscribing on the site. 


We can’t wait to hear from you. 

Joe & T.J.

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