EdSeeds is designed to encourage innovation in Colorado’s K-12 schools by providing a platform to help educators solve specific classroom challenges in novel ways. EdSeeds is housed at the Donnell-Kay Foundation, with a concept loosely based on principles from technology accelerators such as Y Combinator and TechStars. We believe many educators have initial thoughts about how they might innovate within their practice, but they lack the structure, time, and resources — as well as a conducive environment outside of the traditional classroom setting — to design, test, and refine these ideas. Innovation is rarely achieved by incremental change applied broadly — EdSeeds aims instead for deep innovation applied narrowly. EdSeeds will provide educators with the opportunity to work in teams to build, test, and scale innovative ideas that will better serve Colorado’s students. It’s impossible to plant a fully-grown forest; we want to cultivate education’s seeds.
The EdSeeds Hypothesis
We believe Colorado has all the right ingredients for K-12 innovation: a fertile ecosystem of talented educators, an engaged philanthropic community, supportive legislation and policy, and the open and collaborative culture of the West.
Yet, with a few exceptions, there has been little innovation. We think that is because most innovation efforts are rarely initiated at the right scale, by the people closest to students, or in the best possible environment. At EdSeeds, we believe:
- Innovation is best fostered at the classroom level. Currently, the focus of innovation has been entire schools — but new schools take several years to start, existing schools are difficult to change quickly, and the complex problems faced by the system can be a stifling environment for innovation to thrive. We think innovation should start instead by solving specific problems in classrooms.
- Innovation is most likely to originate from teachers. Teachers — not legislators, not administrators, not policy wonks– know classroom challenges firsthand. Teachers are closest to students, best able to formulate and test ideas, and most likely to observe real change. We believe that many teachers have specific challenges in their classrooms that they would like to address through innovation, if given the right opportunity.
- Innovation is best tried outside traditional school hours. Most schools have a low tolerance for trying new things, and many teachers must work within a number of constraints: a set routine and curricula, specific goals and metrics, and 25 or more kids at once. We believe in trying new ideas outside the traditional school setting – summer programs, after school, or during weekends. This will provide teachers with direct interaction with smaller groups of students in a lower risk setting that provides the ability to make quick course corrections.