Friday, December 5, 2014

Innovation Fellows Program

I've talked a lot about our Innovation Fellows program on social media and have many requests to talk about the program more. So, here goes!

As we were working on our new academic strategic plan a few years ago, a theme emerged that we wanted to focus on: retaining the academic excellence of our curricular program while bolstering our innovative practices such as using blended learning, design thinking, integrating community partnerships or more intentional time for maker education. To provide a leadership opportunity for teacher innovators already adopting these learning innovations, provide a network of support in our community to spread learning innovation and to develop case studies that can be shared through our Learning Innovation Institute, we developed our Innovation Fellows Program. After a successful few years of having learning cohorts among our entire faculty, the Innovation Fellows program was a natural iteration.

Description of the Program:
The innovation fellows program is a two year-long leadership opportunity for teachers at The Ellis School that began in August, 2014. The Fellowship emcompasses both release time and a stipend. The fellowship has two major components: educational innovation consulting and coaching support among peers and participating in Learning Innovation Institute outreach efforts. Innovation Fellows serve on the Curriculum Leadership Committee and are adjunct presenters for the Learning Innovation Institute Teach and Lead workshops and other outreach such as conference presentations and representation at events. 

Innovation fellows meet bi-weekly with the Director of the Learning Innovation Institute (that's me!) to report on consulting and project work and share other updates. With input from Division Directors (the name for principals at our school), Fellows may focus on providing coaching and support to faculty on a specific pedagogical innovation such as, but not limited to: flipped learning, design thinking/PBL or partnerships. Innovation Fellows lead 'Innovation Interviews' across the K-12 program with every faculty member to gain insight, build empathy and aid in planning of future project work and professional development planning. The goal of the Fellows program in the first year is to create a ground-swell for advancing the school's strategic initiatives and report on the status of innovation within our curricular program.

Although the program has just begun, it's off to a great start. Innovation fellows have offices hours each week and we have learned they are best used going out to visit classes "on-the-fly" or going into classrooms to do coaching with both faculty and/or students. We are beginning our interview project soon. I look forward to reporting back about that as well. I am very lucky to work with amazing teachers who are dedicated to advancing our program in innovative ways.

Pictured in green is Patrick, our Lower School Innovation Fellow
leading a group at The Learning Innovation Institute
Design Thinking Unconference. 
Our Innovation Fellows:
Sam Rauhala, Upper School science teacher
Liza Goldberg, Upper School math teacher
Sara Sturdevant, Arts Department Head, Upper and Middle School art teacher
Patrick Fagersten, Lower School, 4th grade

1 comment:

  1. This program sounds fantastic, Lisa! I love how you're making quality use of faculty time and supporting them in the ways you've described, including giving them time to work with other faculty. How do you support their own professional growth in terms of conference attendance, etc.? Is that how they can use their stipend? I'm excited to hear how your program evolves over the next two years!