Envisioning Innovation in Education
About the Innovate Stage
In the third and final year of the project, EIE participants shifted from exploring individual inquiry focus questions to a collective innovation focus question (IFQ) with same-school Teacher Cohort members. In innovation teams, participants piloted school-based innovation projects to address their innovation focus questions:
To investigate their collective IFQs, participants applied the inquiry strategies introduced in Years 1-2 and engaged in the iterative innovation cycle of “try > share > revise”. This iterative process encourages participants to try new approaches regardless of scale, share the experimentations with colleagues and friends, and revise using the feedback received to create new and improved versions of practice.
Engaging in these practices fostered participants’ innovator’s mindset: the inclination, capacity and sensitivity to seek opportunities for change.
Milestones in the Innovate Stage
Artifacts and milestones include:
Participants captured their innovation journey in the form of stories. This narrative approach encourages the understanding and buy-in from stakeholders both within and beyond the EIE project by capturing the change process in a fun, engaging and relatable manner.
Each innovation team (i.e. participating school) designed and facilitated an interactive workshop to share their insights and understanding of pedagogical & systems innovation and change. This served as participants’ cumulative and celebratory performance at the final Learning Community event of the project.
Every EIE school designed and hosted an Open House, inviting interested EIE participants to visit and exchange insights on the unique inquiry focus chosen by each school. Open House events aimed to promote the cross-pollination of innovative ideas in the EIE community. These events fostered the deepening of relationships and understanding between the diverse group of participating secondary schools in Hong Kong.
What the Innovate Stage Looked Like
Innovation teams engaged in innovation cycles of “try > share > revise” through these 2 key structures:
1) Study Group Sessions
Innovation teams designed and facilitated their own study group sessions throughout the year. What each session looked like would be determined by the team’s emergent needs, depending on the progress and direction of their innovation project.
2) Learning Community (LC) Events
The Year 3 Learning Community events served as occasions for innovation teams to share their innovation work-in-progress and collect feedback from different school participants. Creating a brave and safe space to co-learn and co-inspire contributed to the cultivation of trust and belonging for the EIE community.
The Year 3 Kick-off launched the innovation phase of the 3-year project, and prompted participants to consider the sustainability and scaling of the work. Project Zero (PZ) facilitated mixed-school activities introducing participants to the innovation cycle (i.e. an iterative process of “try > share > revise”) and innovator’s mindset (i.e. the capacity, sensitivity and inclination to seek opportunities for change).
Using thinking routines, participants practiced working on the iterative nature of innovation. Participants worked in school-based teams to draft their collective innovation focus question, which determined the direction of their innovation project for the year. Participants also brainstormed how they might collectively deepen and sustain their innovation work. Ideas such as hosting EIE Open House events and establishing an EIE Alliance were discussed.
Participants reconvened at Learning Community 8 following some initial work on their innovation projects. PZ introduced the role that narrative can play in promoting innovation in education. As narrative psychologist Jerome Bruner once said, “Let us remember the importance in education of having an active discourse with other minds. The truest courtesy in human interaction, and in pedagogy… is to help others discover what their experience means in their minds and hearts.” With this idea, participants shared their favourite childhood books and expressed appreciation for the story’s message or morale, of which inspired many onto their path as educators. This led participants to recognize the power of narratives in inspiring change.
To practice the narrative approach, participants crafted “stories of learning” using everyday objects found in “mystery bags”. This made use of educators’ creativity to reimagine daily items into representations of ideas in education (e.g. a juice bottle symbolizing juicy ideas, a battery representing energy and empowerment).
School teams crafted their innovation stories using various modes such as music, drama, or poetry. Participants continued using storytelling as a tool for documenting and enhancing educational change in the coming months.
By spring, all participants had engaged in innovation cycles and it was time to share their latest stories. The February Learning Community 9 event commenced under the theme of an innovation cafe. The cafe theme removed educators from their usual work settings, which encouraged casual and organic conversations between participants.
Four storytellers from the EIE participants were invited on stage to share their innovation stories with the full cohort. These stories covered the application of thinking routines and flipped learning, the fostering of student agency, and the process of creating small yet effective changes in existing practices. After the stage stories, all participants engaged in “A Page from Your Notebook” sharings, where each individual shared their innovative ideas and reflections in small groups.
A hands-on “Octopus Activity” was introduced, encouraging schools to visualize their innovation projects as a living system (octopus as the project, and each of its tentacles as stakeholders that it could reach). Through this metaphor, participants explored the connections and potential collaborative opportunities within and between schools. The relaxed and supportive atmosphere of the day fostered genuine exchanges between educators, and inspired them to consider the reach and impact of their innovation projects.
The Learning Community 10 event in May 2023 marked the final gathering for EIE participants. This meaningful celebration was joined by the Project Zero team and colleagues from the member schools.
To reflect on the learnings of the past 3 years, participants played an interactive card game (similar to how dominoes are played), and shared their key learning moments with each other.
To demonstrate their new understandings of and progress in education innovation, each school innovation team delivered a “scene” (i.e. interactive workshop) for the audience. Some of these scenes involved immersing the audience in learning activities that promoted playful learning or student agency; while some other scenes simulated the initiatives developed to build capacity for colleagues.
The celebratory event concluded with attendees reflecting on “I used to think… Now I think… Now I would like to…” to consolidate their experiences, identify next steps, and collectively create the path forward as this project draws to a close.
3) Open House Events
EIE School Open House events were initiated to promote the cross-pollination of ideas and inquiry-driven innovation between EIE project schools. Each Open House event was uniquely designed to showcase the inquiry focus and context of the hosting school. Open to all EIE participants, the visits fostered the deepening of relationships and understanding between diverse secondary schools in Hong Kong.
To ensure these events were truly mutually beneficial for learning and not just a showcase of success, EIE schools committed to the following community agreements:
Mutual Learning: The experience should mutually benefit both the Host and Visitors
The Learning Process: Emphasize on the process, not just the outcome
Inquiry: The experience should be inquiry-driven to generate focused & fruitful dialogue
Making Learning Visible: To document and make visible what happened on the day, so that we may continue to share and extend the learnings after the event
Click here to read about the Open House events in detail.