Mekca Wallace-Spurgin, Ed. D, Director of Technology, Centerville, IA
The Educators' Lab
HundrED shortlisted this innovation
Why did you create this innovation?
Everyone is talking about the need to innovate in education but no one provides a HOW. Frustrated with training that inspired but didn't provide follow-through, we’ve taken methodologies from the social-startup space and adapted them for educators, so we can provide the HOW for teachers to make innovation happen.
How does your innovation work in practice?
We’ve created tools, workshops, and activities that take the best from design thinking and the lean methodology so we can help teachers quickly test possible solutions to problems, flesh out their ideas, and create a concrete plan of action to implement their ideas (all with keeping students at the center). For instance, our Educator Canvas provides a structured approach to problem-solving so teachers can use professional learning to:
-collaborate with colleagues to address challenges;
-find solutions to pain-points in the classroom;
-integrate technology to heighten student engagement.
After completing our workshops, teachers report feeling empowered, productive, and ready to face challenges, including teaching during a pandemic: "I'm glad I learned how to use the Educator Canvas and had time to "play" for training. Having a flexible mindset with the Canvas for support made the sudden transition to full-tilt online classes much smoother." -Steph Deitz,
6th Grade Teacher, Fargo, ND
How has it been spreading?
In the past two years, we worked with teachers and organizations (including PBS Education and Ashoka Youth Ventures) to workshop and improve our tools. Our initial TeacherHack evolved into the Educator Canvas and ultimately led to a publishing agreement to write The Startup Teacher Playbook.
Over the next two years, our goal is to empower teachers and work with organizations to inspire change in education. We will:
-Host an annual virtual Challenge to coach educators as they design solutions to practical problems;
-Facilitate Innovation/Changemaking workshops (in-person, in a train-the-trainer capacity, and via conferences);
-Collaborate with like-minded organizations to design better learning experiences for educators;
-Continue to provide FREE content to our Startup Teacher network.
If I want to try it, what should I do?
Our free courses and tools are designed to support anyone anywhere. Visit theeducatorslab.com to download the Educator Canvas and use our how-to video (https://youtu.be/ervLgKix9aE) to get started. The Startup Teacher Playbook provides more tools, strategies, and support to personalize professional learning. For more information, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.