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Why intentional innovation?

Innovation is a key component of any re-imagining that helps schools sustain, flourish and thrive into the future. After discussing the success and failure of various innovations observed at schools, the Fellows noticed a lack of reflection around those innovations often resulted in challenging implementation and sometimes outright failures.  

“Reflection is thinking rigorously, critically, and systematically about practices and problems of importance for further growth…Reflection is a disciplined way of assessing situations, imagining a future different from today, and preparing to act.”

        -William Ayers, 2004

This project is an attempt to provide a thoughtful framework that schools can use to ensure that their innovations thrive.  Change is often difficult at schools, even when desperately needed. This reflective practice will help schools successfully navigate their innovations into sustainable, flourishing change.

As the educational landscape expands and evolves, independent schools face a wide range of realities and challenges that require schools to be responsive while remaining aligned with their mission and vision. Finding balance between the flexibility of responsiveness to outside forces and the more set vision and mission-driven goals of a school means building a strong understanding of a school’s identity, thinking intentionally and analytically about the existing needs, and imagining, predicting and planning for the yet-to-be discovered possibilities of the future. The NWAIS Futurest Fellows considered the following question: How might we reimagine our current schools so that we sustain, flourish and thrive into the future?

We wondered if the structures of reflective practice, and in particular the idea of “reflection for action,” suggested by Killion and Todnem in 1991, might offer an opportunity to support schools in their pursuit of intentional innovation and school growth and evolution. Reflection is often times understood as a reactionary task; a way to revisit the past or become aware of the metacognitive process one is experiencing in the moment. Reflection for action however, is more proactive as it guides future action and supports decision-making that is rational, considers and weighs alternative possibilities, and employs criteria to select a given option or course of action (Reagan, Case, & Brubacher, 2000). What we offer to you is a framework that supports intentional innovation and risk-taking in schools. It provides a thinking structure to facilitate collaborative design, dialogue and analysis, while recognizing that no single set of strategies or techniques can work for all schools or in all circumstances.