The Creating Communities of Innovation research project has been engaged in a qualitative study designed to develop instructional tools and resources to support educators to engage in context-specific, inquiry-driven innovations that improve learning experiences and outcomes for students in sustainable and scalable ways. The team is currently collaborating with 52 teachers and administrators working in seven schools in the United Arab Emirates that are part of the GEMS network of schools. Participating educators serve students at the primary, middle, and secondary level in schools that variously follow American, British, Indian, and International Baccalaureate curricula. There are three key aspects to this study: supporting educators to (1) develop inquiry skills, (2) use inquiry methods to identify, design, prototype, implement, and assess the impact of resources, practices, or tools they create to effect pedagogical change (their “innovations”), and (3) build a robust and supportive educator learning community both within and across participating schools. The CCI collaborative research structure has involved weekly in-school study group meetings, periodic cross-school meetings, and a customized online platform for educators to communicate and exchange ideas. All schools have implemented significant innovations that are in the process of being scaled and disseminated. Early analysis of our data suggests that educator transformation and empowerment have also become a vital part of this inquiry, with CCI fostering the concept of “teachers as inquiry-driven innovators.” The team has developed a suite of research-based tools to support teachers in inquiry-driven innovation processes and is currently preparing a handbook meant to be adaptable to a variety of teaching and learning environments. In addition, they are writing up several analytical case studies, a concept paper on levers and obstacles to innovation in schools, and a research paper on the dispositional and cognitive shifts experienced by participating educators.

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Funder: GEMS Education

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