The Shift to Innovation Through the Power of Networks

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For a school or district, it’s one thing to label itself as innovative, but for true innovation to take place, there must be a process of strategic planning, development, and action. Leading school design partner New Tech Network (NTN) believes that to build and sustain innovative schools, the whole school ecosystem needs to be addressed. With over 20 years of expertise and an established network of over 200 schools, New Tech has developed expertise in helping schools and districts set a vision and shift away from traditional practices to deeper learning outcomes for their students.

Foundation for Innovation

Culture that Empowers. Teaching that Engages. Technology that Enables. Outcomes that Matter. These are the four design pillars at the center of New Tech’s school model, and these principles drive the organization’s mission to create innovative schools that transform learning.

So what drives New Tech’s success in their efforts to innovate schools and districts? In short, they keep their focus on two essential skills as primary learning outcomes: agency (managing one’s work and learning) and collaboration (working productively on a team).

NTN has effectively operationalized both agency and collaboration through its rubrics that allow for skill measurement (see Agency Rubric and Collaboration Rubric examples), its prioritization of students demonstrating these skills in combined personalized and project-based learning, and its supportive school culture and relationships.

Path to Innovation

Our latest report, How to Innovate: Options for School Districts explores innovation opportunities and provides guidance on schools and districts joining a network and adopting a school model, identifying New Tech Network as an exemplar design partner for comprehensive school change.

How to Innovate provides important information schools and districts should consider when in the development and partnership process, including school development strategies, benefits to joining networks and considerations in choosing a model provider.

  • School Development Strategies. Of course, managing to deliver on design principles and models that combine personalized and project-based learning is not an easy feat and requires strategic consideration of courses of action in changing or creating a school model. Strategic approaches for school development include teacher designed pilots, DIY with component partners, model provider partnerships and managed networks, each with unique advantages and drawbacks.
  • Benefits to Joining Networks. Partnering with or joining a managed network has its advantages. There are a variety of network partnership options, ranging in scope and scale. Generally speaking, a network provides a reduction in overall risk and an expansion of access to expertise, tools, and resources. For instance, New Tech Network partners onboard the New Tech school model with extensive planning and implementation support and expertise that they wouldn’t otherwise have if they elected a DIY approach to innovation.
  • Considerations in Choosing a Model Provider. Schools and districts should consider the following three elements when choosing a school model provider or network partner: outcome alignment (what outcomes are a priority?), teacher-friendliness (how are teachers supported?), and change management (does the network provide planning and coaching support?).

To successfully shift from traditional to innovative practices is both a risk and an investment. We advise schools and districts to determine their strategy, consider their options and plan appropriately to reduce risk and yield a strong return on investment.

Access the report here.

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Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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