The concept of being innovative can be made to sound so simple. We think of a new idea. We take a risk and implement the new idea. We fail, learn, and move forward. But what if the development of the innovative thinking isn’t the only roadblock? What if so much of your day is spent solving the issues around you that even the attempt at developing new ideas is not even on your radar? What if you long to have more divergent teachers in your school district or to be that divergent teacher, but you simply don’t know where to start? This is where I was as a Technology Integrator several years ago. I knew what innovative teaching looked like, but I didn’t know how to support all the other areas that were taking teachers’ away from having the time and the brain space to think innovatively and divergently. After working with multiple educators, schools, and districts, I have developed the foundational levels to the Hierarchy of Needs for Innovation and Divergent Thinking in hopes that the information will help educators find the holes in their foundational levels and fill them. When educators are supported, amazing learning opportunities can happen, and a solid foundation allows for more time to try new ideas, challenge their own assumptions, and teach divergently!
Mandy Froehlich is the Director of Innovation and Technology in Wisconsin where she supports and encourages educators to create innovative change in their classrooms. Her passion lies in reinvigorating and re-engaging teachers back into their profession, including supporting teachers' mental health and wellness, as well as what is needed to support teachers in their pursuit of innovative and divergent thinking in their classroom. She consults with school districts around the country in the effective use of technology to support great teaching, creating a culture of support for innovation and divergent thinking, and motivating teachers to re-engage in their profession.