“Innovative education through collaboration”
“When we leave the board office, and come somewhere where everyone is innovating, and the answer is yes, yes. There’s no pushback. It really makes us think how we might innovate inside our own box,” says Angie Roth, of the Thames Valley District School Board.
The longtime educator has been looking for ways to inspire students and create opportunities for them to grow and learn outside of a classroom.
She sees the space at Innovation Works as a welcoming atmosphere to entice new conversations and open doors for possibilities. Wanting to prepare students for a world that’s rapidly changing, Roth knows that a wider community involvement gives a new perspective to teachers and students alike.
Bringing teachers and educators into Innovation Works allows them to see entrepreneurs and business people in a new environment, allowing them to remember that the world is far wider than textbooks and exams.
“I think it just makes students realize that that world we talk about, ‘the real world,’ it’s not a scary place, and there’s lots of opportunities and really figuring out what they love, is all they need to do,” says Roth. “Hopefully how they come out the other side, is knowing what drives them.”
While school board offices are free, the extra investment for space at Innovation Works means fast wifi, a fresh environment to focus in, and easily to secure speakers outside the education sector. Cotenants in the building can often pop down stairs to share ideas during their lunch break, when otherwise the school board would have to pay for their travel and schedule time well in advance.
“When you’re in a space where you hear conversations and you see positive interactions about people solving problems and we have to go back to a classroom, we have a better mental model about what it can look like for our students and that’s kinda cool,” explains Roth.
Roth also uses space at Innovation Works for a social enterprise she started with her own children. She wants to offer them the opportunity to think creatively and try new things, which they may not do as much of at home. Knowing she leaves the building feeling inspired and excited, Roth wants to instill a sense of creating instead of only consuming.
The collaboration facilitated by Innovation Works’ community animators motivates Roth, too. She says she gets emails connecting her to other cotenants in the building, offering partnership potential.
“I joke, I say that whatever the cost of a flex desk is, this is like a gym membership for your soul, because when you come here, you leave invigorated and you leave hopeful. That’s a pretty good thing to have for just staying grounded and having a positive attitude.”