Tom Kelley defines Innovation as people creating value through the implementation of new ideas.

Last year, I had an idea. Actually, I had a lot of ideas. But one of them that just kept jogging around in my mind was to find a way for teachers to produce beneficial content that they could share with others. Teachers are always dealing with content. Concerning their students, they deliver content. Concerning their professional development, most of their time is spent consuming content. Consuming content is a big part of the professional development process. However, I have found that producing content is much more powerful. I found that those who prepared content to share learned as much if not more than those who simply consumed it. All of you who have prepared presentations know what I am talking about. Also, the presentations themselves are very helpful. Win Win. So, how would I get this done? I started thinking about time. We do not have a lot of that, right? So I came up with the idea of having a 10 Minute Clinic. Most of us can find ten minutes. That’s enough time to create or attend a short presentation. How could I support teachers in creating content and then sharing it? So I had a pretty good handle on time, but what about space? Teachers need a place to create and share. Somewhere safe. Somewhere that has the things they need to discover, to create, to share. A place to be innovative. A Teachers Innovation Station.

While I was wrestling with this idea I had the chance to visit with Phil Hintz from Digital Promise. During our visit, I shared my 10 Minute Clinic idea and what it was growing into. We talked a lot about space. Phil did a walkthrough with me of our entire campus as we discussed space. We talked about how we could find spaces for making and doing in our school. I discussed my idea of providing a space for teachers.

So what had started out as an idea for a 10 Minute Clinic was growing into something more. Something bigger. It was becoming about space.

 

So there it was. The birth of our Teacher Innovation Station. We would create a space for Teachers to create, make, and do. I was pretty excited about that. However, questions had led to more questions. What would we make and do? How would we make and do? How would we structure this? How do you structure innovation?

 

 

In the spring of 2017, we attended the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools’ Spring meeting in Cleveland, Ohio. It was hosted by Mentor Public Schools. This meeting gave us the opportunity to meet educators from all over the nation who were doing innovative things. We were also able to visit several schools in that system.

Our team was made up of Dr. Goodwin, Superintendent; Khristie Goodwin, Curriculum Coordinator; Sherita Hayes, Instructional Technology Specialist; Eric Burrage, Director of Operations, and Michael Maniscalco, Oxford Middle School Principal.

During one of the whole group meetings, we were asked to share things that we were doing at our school. I talked about our idea of creating a Teacher Innovation Station. The share out was being facilitated by Mentor Schools Superintendent, Matthew Miller. He asked me a few questions about our plans and said he thought that it was a really good idea. That was a great boost of confidence. After the share out, Dr. Hamm from the Richland Two School District in Columbia, South Carolina approached us and told us they were doing something really similar to what I had mentioned and invited us to visit. Dr. Goodwin was supportive of this idea and told me to set it up. We were able to schedule a visit for early summer.

In May of 2017 I attended a Teach To Lead Summit in Columbus, Ohio. Our team was made up of Theresa Shadrix, Cade Somers, Holley Harmon, and Khristie Goodwin. We were joined by a Teach To Lead Critical Friend, Charesha Barrett.

Educators came together at this Summit to work on their Teach To Lead Logic Model. Once again we had an opportunity to network with educators from all across the nation.

During this Summit, we were able to visit schools in the Columbus area who were establishing innovative spaces for their students. We visited the PAST Innovation Lab and began learning about how partnerships and Design Thinking were being used to produce some pretty amazing results. I had been hearing about Design Thinking and now it seemed like it was being discussed more and more. I had noted this as something that I needed to dive into and learn more about. I began noticing similar things. All of these visits had spaces for making. They may call them by different names, but they all were fairly similar. All of these spaces had bins full of stuff. Pipe cleaners, close pins, ribbon, tape, etc. Stuff for making. But what were they making? and Why? Once again, questions leading to questions.

In June of 2017 we visited Richland Two School District in Columbia, South Carolina. We were able to visit their Institute of Innovation. This was very helpful as we were in the process of establishing our Teacher Innovation Station at Oxford High School.

Prior to the Richland Two visit, I met and talked with Donna Tuber. Donna is the Innovation Program Designer for Richland 2. She talked about Design Thinking and David and Tom Kelley. She told me about the Stanford d.school and encouraged me to take a look at Human Centered Design. I downloaded the free Human Centered Design PDF and gave a copy to our team, and we began preparing for the visit. A few weeks before the visit, our team read the Field Guide to Human Centered Design by David and Tom Kelley. I was absolutely blown away by Design Thinking. This is exactly what I was looking for. It was all starting to make sense now. We discussed the verbs Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. Innovation was becoming more than just a buzzword. There is a structure to innovation. It’s not just sending people into an area and telling them to be creative. There is a process. Bins of pipe cleaners and close pins that I had seen everywhere we had visited in MakerSpaces were becoming more than arts and crafts rebranded. They are tools for prototyping. I was getting it!!

Below is a picture of us at our hotel in Columbia, South Carolina the night before the visit. Our team consisted of Dottye Armstrong, Yevett Word, Landon Thompson, Rachel Poe, and Holley Harmon. Our Superintendent, Dr. Goodwin and Curriculum Coordinator, Khristie Goodwn also joined us on the visit.

We were now ready to set up our Teacher Innovation Station. We decided we would use our old yearbook room for the space. We cleaned out the room, and we ordered a banner for the entrance. We ordered a green screen, podcasting equipment, an interactive screen, and three big monitors.

 

We also purchased bins to hold all of the supplies we would need for prototyping.

 

And of course, arguably the most important addition…

It’s hard to be innovative without coffee!

So from idea to installation, we have come quite a ways. What started out as a place to create and share 10 Minute Clinics is now much, much more. It is a place of innovation. Real innovation, not innovation because it’s the cool thing to do. Not arts and crafts rebranded. We are going to really be innovative. We will be supporting our people so that they can create value through the implementation of new ideas.

We now have our Teacher Innovation Station up and running at Oxford High School. This is the result of outstanding support from our Superintendent, Dr. Goodwin, the hard work and dedication of so many, and a few extremely productive visits. I can’t wait to see the magic that happens in this space!

What’s going on in our Teacher Innovation Station?

And just in case you are curious we have just finished our first teacher created 10 Minute Clinic.

Click here to check it out.