Innovation Series: There IS a CHANGE coming and The Lean Lab Education is leading the way in KC!!

Okay bear with me. I am meeting SO many educators doing SO MANY out of the box things that I have decided to develop an “Innovation Series”. I know that many of you follow this blog looking for specific educators to meet BUT some of them represent greater movements in this work. The first example of this is Katie Boody and her work with The Lean Lab Education. You can find out more about the organization here https://www.leanlabeducation.org/  I can tell you that I have been acquainted with The Lean Lab Education for more than two years. In that time, I have participated in their weekend workshops, summer fellowship (as an advisor), and startup weekends just to name a few events. The collaborative environment and lean thinking championed by the organization were like none that I had experienced before. I couldn’t get enough; as an educator hungry for new ideas, I felt it was my safe space. After each touch, I left more equipped than ever to tackle the education problem I was facing from a new lens. Their mission statement reads:

LEANLAB EDUCATION is an organization that builds communities and launches transformational innovations into K12 schools.

We immerse our innovators into the communities they serve, surrounding them with the tools they need to create effective solutions to endemic problems in education. We believe the most transformational education innovations are born when they are developed in true partnership with those most impacted by education—parents, students, administrators, and teachers.

I would argue that The LeanLab Education more than meets its mission statement. I was recently present when they unveiled their new name and narrowed focus on collaborating with businesses, community members, and educators to design solutions for the education space. Previously the organization had involved supporting those who wanted to design education start ups but did not have such a focus on checking in deeply with stakeholders impacted by those companies. Now, with this new name, The Lean Lab Education is embracing the idea that businesses cannot design solutions in silos. It truly takes a village to improve educational outcomes. They welcomed feedback from that village after conducting a community listening tour. During our meeting, Katie highlighted specific pain points uncovered by educators including a need for more supports with students’ Social Emotional Learning needs and  more assistance with designing reading interventions to name a couple. We then broke into groups to brainstorm root causes for these concerns and community based actionable solutions. Our group was as diverse as Kansas City. We were multi-lingual and from a variety of education related professions. The discussion was lively and deep. Ultimately we had many causes and many actionable solutions. Overall, it was a good night.

I write about The Lean Lab Education now because the group is indicative of a broader movement to bring everyone to the table when it comes to education. There are several articles on the topic. See here, here, and here for starters. Business leaders are just as invested in quality student outcomes as parents as teachers as district and building administrators. However, a mechanism for getting all of these stakeholders in the same space to talk AND collaboratively design solutions is a new wave and one The Lean Lab Education is riding. It is informative to participate in their events and learn what education funders are looking for, it is helpful as a person who works closely with teachers and students to see what new technologies are being developed to assist students, it is heartening as a parent to know that I am not the only one invested in my child’s success. My hope is that by highlighting their work here other groups thinking of doing something similar begin operating. Katie Boody is a former educator who saw a collaborative need and filled it. Truthfully, we could all follow her team’s example and do the same. Read more about her story here http://www.startlandnews.com/2016/06/dying-schools-taught-katie-boody-build/ Remember to lead is to constantly learn and while others may not tell you the truth, I always will. You have all you need to make the impact you want. Collaboration is the key between where you are and where you want to be. Seize your chance to do something different. -Dr. Kia

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