Innovation begins with state of the art practices. It requires an instructional design perspective that moves the focus in the classroom from traditional “content” to high expectations for all students in areas that are most interesting and relevant to the world in which they live. Early innovators take creative risks in an effort to explore practices beyond the familiar. They recognize the value of experimenting, learning from successes and failures, and collaborating with others. Early innovators of the 21st century model are catalysts for creativity, experimentation, and collaboration.
Change Element Goal: Provide opportunities and support for early innovators to identify, develop, and demonstrate 21st century practices that emphasize authentic learning experiences and increase student engagement.
Evidence: Former American Federation of Teachers president Albert Shanker first proposed the notion of supporting early innovators in education. In the late eighties, Shanker suggested that opportunities be provided to teachers to identify more creative ways to address the issues in education. His vision was schools in which teachers were working at “the cutting edge of research and knowledge, not to replicate what others were doing” (Ravitch, 2010). His concept of early adoption (working at the cutting edge) was not meant to be a free for all, but a problem solving approach in which teachers work together to identify a hypothesis about school change, study it closely in an inquiry model, and contribute to the general understanding of teaching and learning.