Innovation Hubs

Crises and opportunities are part of the same process. A crisis is a turning point—“crisis” comes from the Indo-European word krei, to decide—and the one in which the world finds itself is the uninvited guest that takes up so much space in our heads. As Prem looks toward the future of its students, its staff, and itself as an organization, it has seized the current situation as an opportunity to strengthen its culture, making it one cohesive Professional Learning Community.
This year, Prem’s teachers organized in Innovation Hubs: small, collaborative teams with the sole mission to increase the quality of thinking and learning at the school through innovative pedagogical practices. Innovation Hubs allow teachers to exercise agency, generating their own “what if we…,” “how can we…,” “what would be different if…” questions that open the doors for risk-taking and exploration. Throughout the semester-long process, Innovation Hubs are all teacher-led and provide contexts within which teachers organize themselves, drive their own learning, generate ideas, and design plans to implement these ideas in the school. So far, they have come up with investigations such as “What if we created a network of students who become expert tech trainers throughout the school?” “How can we build repositories of ideas to nurture and inspire creativity?” and “What would be different if we created organic communication channels between the school and home?” The Hubs have already inspired our Thai teaching assistants to become Seesaw ambassadors and cascade their knowledge to non-Thai staff, a significant culture innovation and source of empowerment.

There are no rules, no limits to the imagination. Just a common purpose to make Prem a place where thinking, learning, and relationships are at the same time broadened and deepened. This is the same process that our students go through when they engage in inquiry and these parallels are intentional so that teachers live our values, to be lifelong learners. It’s not always easy and there have been bumps in the road, but we learn by doing and Innovation Hubs are places for action, not just theorizing. At the end of the process, each Innovation Hub will present its ideas, receive feedforward, and the Senior Leadership Team will work with Hubs to implement the plans that have potential to have the strongest impact. This is authentic and taken seriously, a model for the classroom.

Innovation Hubs are part of a multi-year process and are re-iterative. They will build on each other and become imbedded in the school culture. Prem understands that most of its creative potential comes from its teachers and its students—no offense to leadership! Innovation Hubs are part of the same spirit that seeks to foster agency, creativity, and action within students to make a difference in the community and the world. After all, no matter our age, we are all be learners and live these values.

Benjamin Freud, Ph.D.

Whole School Teaching and Learning Lead, Extended Essay Coordinator, Grade Level Leader (G11), DP History and I&S Teacher


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