At Pittsburgh Allegheny PreK-5 school leadership, teachers and staff have built a culture around the habits of innovation.

What happens at a school when there’s an instructional focus on innovation? At       Allegheny PreK-5, Principal Molly O’Malley-Argueta says teachers grow their practice and students challenge themselves more, push themselves further and never give up.
“Teachers always hear me saying, ‘try this or try that,’ because there’s always something new to learn,” says O’Malley-Argueta. “And they pass on that idea on to their students.”
According to math and science teacher Jennifer Ernsthausen, the emphasis on innovation allows her to “take the ceiling off” her students. “I want them to be fearless,” notes Ernsthausen. “I tell them there’s nothing that says you can’t be totally amazing, and I’m going to be the coach that gets you there.”
As students begin to think like innovators, they learn that it’s okay to fail as long as they persist in learning. “Failure is really the beginning of a good inquiry question,” Ernsthausen adds. “By looking at what didn’t work, we learn so much more about what actually does work.”
Innovator habits can be applied successfully across all content areas. “No matter what you put in front of them, students will have success in learning,” reports O’Malley-Argueta.
Students at Allegheny say they have fun learning. They like adopting the innovators habits because they offer more independence and more opportunities to try new things and collaborate with their classmates.
O’Malley-Argueta says that the innovative approach empowers teachers as well. They meet often as a group to discuss their practice and share what works and what doesn’t work in their classrooms. Although they teach the required content for every curriculum, they can do it in new and different ways that work best for their group of students.
“I’ve grown so much as a teacher,” concludes Ernsthausen. “This has been the best year ever in my career.”
Watch a video on the Allegheny PreK-5 habits of innovation at this link: https://vimeo.com/album/4181434/video/185633738