Ping pong tables in the lounge. Free sushi and Red Bull in the fridge. The latest toys and gadgets littering the office.
You’ve likely heard these nauseating clichés about tech startups more times than you can count.
While those amenities may appear in startup culture, it’s critical to understand that the success of your team, colleagues or students does not derive from pool tables and free snacks. A true startup culture embodies growth, innovation, openness, experimentation, positivity and most of all, collaboration.
The February #SquirrelsChat laid the groundwork for developing a startup culture. Participants brainstormed ways to apply that cultural framework to educational environments.
What elements of startup culture can be found in education?
Start by looking at the physical attributes of modern classrooms. You’ll notice the parallels between innovation and education. Teachers and schools are becoming more intentional about creating environments that are conducive to collaboration and creativity.
Having worked for several startups some common themes are include focus on relationships, freedom to try and fail, and finding a great balance between fun and work #SquirrelsChat— Becky Shiring (@beckyshy) February 2, 2018
A1: I think so many classrooms are doing this - collaborative learning, flexible seating, innovative tech and methodology. I know that I’m supported and willing to try new things with my kids even if they fail. #squirrelschat— Jessica Robinson (@JessRob) February 2, 2018
A1. Really giving way to inquiry holistically. All members of the community needs to have the flexibility to share how they learn. It really helps promote innovation when Ss, Ts, As, and Ps can all spread their wings. #squirrelschat pic.twitter.com/rm4neYbbOX— James McCrary, M.Ed (@jamesmccrary) February 2, 2018
A1: Outside of students and teachers, I see schools empowering parents to be part of the educational process and I think that is incredibly important. Whether it's a startup or school, all stakeholders need to be involved. #squirrelschat— Emily Carle Hafer (@emilycarle) February 2, 2018
Absolutely! Having voice + choice leads to buy in, passion, and engagement for everyone involved. They have voice + choice in the "real world" so it's important to have them practice early on. #SquirrelsChat— Emily Carle Hafer (@emilycarle) February 2, 2018
What does a people-first mentality look like in classrooms & schools?
Simply put: a people-first mentality is looking at people beyond data, requirements and to-do lists. Focus on building relationships with your colleagues, students, admins, parents, etc. because ultimately, people are the foundation of any organization or culture.
A2: Letting kids show what they know how they can show it the best. Not always a standardized test. People-first allows people to work and show their mind the way they are most comfortable and knowledgeable #squirrelschat— Robin Thompson (@crazymrst) February 2, 2018
A2. By realizing life exists beyond the four walls of a school. We can be flexible in our expectations to understand that life can sometimes make school stuff difficult to accomplish...Ss, Ts, and As alike. #squirrelschat #ditchhw pic.twitter.com/5IsyHp5Fc9— James McCrary, M.Ed (@jamesmccrary) February 2, 2018
A2: When putting people first, hiring not only for technical skills or certifications, but also for cultural fit is very important. For those involved in school hiring, include questions that get at your school's culture. #edleadership #edleaders #SquirrelsChat https://t.co/uAasxBUFdz— Becky Shiring (@beckyshy) February 2, 2018
A2: Making our classroom a safe space to take risks by asking qs w/o judgment, to not penalize failure & use it as a learning experience, & just have the openness to try new things. #SquirrelsChat https://t.co/m7J8bW8B7d— The Requisos 🇵🇭 (@therequisos) February 2, 2018
What are ways to encourage collaboration in your environment
When we place value on collaboration, we need to find a way to cultivate it and make it part of the active culture.
A3:A3: Being intentional about how teachers are assigned to classrooms can help foster collaboration in creative ways. Most schools group by grade level/subject but if you want cross-curricular collaboration, put those teachers in close proximity to one another. #SquirrelsChat— Becky Shiring (@beckyshy) February 2, 2018
A3: Our spaces need to be intentional. I’m constantly trying to find ways to support more student interaction. From table groups, computer station, lounge area, chairs in the hallway etc. #squirrelschat— Jessica Robinson (@JessRob) February 2, 2018
A3) We took a BOLD SCHOOL approach from @Wes_Kieschnick and brought 4 teachers together to work with 94 learners in a #personalizedlearning cohort. Read more here https://t.co/4jYFgdrLnt #SquirrelsChat— Travis Lape (@travislape) February 2, 2018
What impact does a culture of innovation have on student learning & achievement?
The term “future-ready skills” can be found across education today. It is difficult, if not impossible, for students to acquire future-ready skills with an educational mindset stuck in the 20th century.
A4: Education needs to try to stay up with innovations. If S's have not heard of the newest thing or even seen it, then how are they readyf or life after graduation. #SquirrelsChat https://t.co/e5daccCyJK— Adam Rogers M.A.Ed. (@MrRogersTech) February 2, 2018
A4: I hope with a continued push towards a culture of innovation that students will be prepared for life beyond school. Their first job likely isn't going to take the time to teach them how to think outside of the box, but they can come in with those skills #squirrelschat— Emily Carle Hafer (@emilycarle) February 2, 2018
A4: Allowing students the voice & choice to pursue autonomous projects helps develop self-regulation & monitoring skills and an entrepreneurial mindset necessary for future success. #softskills #futureready #SquirrelsChat https://t.co/wcSu4MP59a— Becky Shiring (@beckyshy) February 2, 2018
A4. One word: adaptability. Innovation facilitates adaptation to different environments, problems, and people. It’s really difficult to adapt when trad ed is about conforming. #SquirrelsChat pic.twitter.com/2An1LSSfpw— James McCrary, M.Ed (@jamesmccrary) February 2, 2018
Q4: If our goal is the “real world,” we have to challenge them and enable them to think for themselves! They also NEED to be able to collaborate, adapt, and work with others to succeed! #squirrelschat— Jessica Robinson (@JessRob) February 2, 2018
A4: As educators we have to find ways to be comfortable with ambiguity. We are preparing our students for a future that is uncertain #SquirrelsChat— Becky Shiring (@beckyshy) February 2, 2018
What can you do to shift towards a culture of innovation?
In the words of Sir Ken Robinson, change happens from the ground up. Movements do not occur because someone in charge says it should happen. We should all feel empowered to make change happen, regardless of where we are.
A5: If you have an innovative idea, start small with one class and build from there. Share what you're doing with others at a PD session or faculty meeting. Get people excited by focusing on the positive impacts on student learning. #InnovateEd #SquirrelsChat— Becky Shiring (@beckyshy) February 2, 2018
A5-I will stay supportive and positive to teachers who want to try new things in the classroom. I love showing Ts that Ss can create wonderful projects with tech to show learning! #nomoreworksheets #SquirrelsChat— Janis Bork (@BorkJanis) February 2, 2018
A5: Experiment more, support more, challenge more, question more, fail more, and at the end of the day I want to learn as much as I can and share that in a positive environment for my kids. #squirrelschat— Jessica Robinson (@JessRob) February 2, 2018
Join #SquirrelsChat for the best education tips, strategies and ideas
Join #SquirrelsChat every first and third Thursday of the month at 8 p.m ET. You can stay up to date on chat topics and moderators by following us on Twitter (@Squirrels).
Don’t miss the next #SquirrelsChat on February 15: Student Engagement with host Billy Spicer.