Monday, October 17, 2016

Minnetonka Schools: Innovation is Now Our Strategic Plan

This is the fifth year Minnetonka Schools has run a innovation idea hunt using a crowd sourcing software program. In the past, we had a district strategic plan and a representative committee of teachers, parents, and administrators who met to brainstorm ideas of ways to improve our schools by generating a multi-year plan. We stopped that process and replaced it with this idea hunt. Innovation is now our strategic plan, and we have an ongoing process to collect ideas to make education better for our students. 

Each year around 120 ideas are posted in three categories: small (below $1,000), medium ($1,000 - $5,000), and large ($5,000+). Over the past five years, many ideas have come to fruition as the result of proposals our staff have submitted. For example, some major ideas have include our Vantage programTonkaOnlineMinnetonka Research Center, Design for Learning program, and Tonka Codes program. Numerous smaller ideas have started from this process as well.  A couple of examples include moving school picture day to be the same day as open house before school begins and another to flip parent curriculum night with teacher presentations as videos online.

The software we use, Spigit, is also used by a number of major companies like Citi, Siemens, and United Health Care, which is locally headquartered in Minnetonka. We use the software to post ideas to our colleagues, who in turn can comment, question, and vote on each idea. Everyone can participate, from custodians to teachers to administrators. We have students and parents involved in the process of helping vet, test, and support ideas as well. This year, all ideas start out at the site level, with small ideas being developed and tested. The highest rated medium and large ideas from each site will advance to a district-level review.

As one of our principals, Cindy Andress stated, "Innovation is an important way for Minnetonka to respond to the changing needs of our students as well as the changing dynamics of our 21st century world. The great ideas that staff share through the idea hunt is making a big difference in the lives of our students." You can read more about the process and background here as well as in the video below. 

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