Confront and Challenge the Barriers to Innovation
As I reviewed that data from the five STEM schools, inadvertently, I could not ignore the barriers to innovation that surfaced in the interviews. As we all agree or should agree that innovation in schools is necessary to provide students with the learning organizations that will afford the opportunities to be ready to learn and work in the real world. Students need learning opportunities that assist them in enhancing their creativity, entrepreneurialism, and in becoming globally literate.
Class size-Teachers talked about the size of their classes and the number of students on their caseloads as limiting the types of interactions that would enhance collaboration and mentoring.
Assessments-Most of the participants agreed that project-based learning, performance assessment, and product-based learning optimal for students, but externally imposed assessments at times took precedence. Students could not “opt out” and curriculum must be covered.
Time schedules-Departmentalization and courses scheduled by the bell were not instrumental in creating innovative learning environments.
Lack of common planning time-Teachers expressed the need for more time to collaborate with their students and their colleagues. Prep periods were often used to meet with students and/or teachers, which often created the need to choose between the two, or to try to fit them all in to a fixed block of time.
Evaluation-Teachers and students were evaluated by federal, state, and local mandates based on student achievement on the externally imposed assessments. Ironically, the students created authentic products, such as prosthetic hands, drones, and wearable technology that wasn’t enough to quantify achievement.
Funding-One of the leaders at a STEM school that participated in my study shared that lack of funding increased dependence on parents and community to volunteer to offer students extra-curricular activities, which ranged from a crochet club to forest ranging.
Poverty-There was always one person at each school who talked about how poverty created a lack of equity in resources available to all students.
Autonomy-Teachers and students lacked choice, voice, and support in some way or another. Student autonomy was the least innovative element in the STEM schools that participated in my study.
After discovering the Innovation Taxonomy and getting to the Core of Innovation, learning organizations must confront and challenge the barriers to moving forward and creating the future-ready schools that are desperately needed before the journeying in the future unknown.