Objectives: The Challenges of Systematic School Reforms
Capacity building reforms often seek to enhance resources, knowledge and skills of teachers and schools . The assumption is that there are generic ‘best practices’ of schooling and teaching, and the challenge is to systematically implement them within the system at hand. Amidst a plethora of explanations, expectations and ‘cure all’ solutions many countries seem to be stymied in their effort to reform in a way that would overcome the varied challenges of multicultural and multi-challenged schooling systems .
The fundamental perspective of this paper is that “capacity building” and “school reform” must be changed to encourage autonomous development of educational Intrapreneurship in a structured manner that enables community involvement, peer review and scaling, ultimately creating a discourse of educational Intrapreneurship. The paper is based on a statistically validated Index developed in order to accumulate ongoing and sustainable educational Intrapreneurial activity of school.
Theoretical Framework: Educational Intrapreneurship
Social entrepreneurship today is considered a well-defined term . According to OECD policy papers , entrepreneurship and innovation are critical strategies in development of nations and in overcoming global social challenges . While the presence of entrepreneurs promises an active search for better practices in any organization, it often assumed that educators and teachers do not and cannot have the “entrepreneurial advantage” and hence cannot create innovation within the system.
Mifras (“Sail” in Hebrew) is an Israeli NGO working in public schools on internal development of educational entrepreneurship and innovation.Its core idea is that robust improvement of schools relies on the internal “muscle tone”, and the ability to develop the infrastructure that would enable Intrapreneurship led systematically by the school staff.
Done in a thoughtful and professional measure, innovation and intrapreneurship can be taught and give new meanings to educational practices and perceptions of the role of teachers as educational innovators .
It is the school staff that should be the owner of school change and its professional authority. The knowledge, experience, familiarity with needs and specific challenges; along with understanding of the opportunities and challenges at hand, the professional forces within the school community its characteristics – enable educators to define needs, question possible forms of action, implement and asses them, and, ultimately, create innovative educational ventures that have more chances of becoming positive sustainable changes in schools . Structured development of school intrapreneurship would enable scaling of initiatives and create a professional discourse that would connect to a wide community of educators and bring new meaning to the concept of school reform.
This paper seeks to create a “road map” for those interested in promoting educational Intrapreneurship in a professional manner as a way of systematic school development.
The index which will be presented was designed to enable every school staff to define and assess specific components from which educational Intrapreneurship may develop. Its goal is to enable sustainable work routine in school that promotes pro-active intrapreneurship and innovation of educational practice. Full details of the index and validation process will be presented, including full data, methodology, analytical approach and final results.
The process of validation of the index reinforced our initial assumption: Intrapreneurship in the education system will be valuable if three pillars develop simultaneously and become common professional language and practice in schools:
The Intrapreneur –
The index reinforces the fact that professional development of educators should include aspects related to strengthening the sense of self-efficacy, while providing knowledge in various issues related to entrepreneurial practice, such as budget development, tools for creative team work, research, assessment and more. The intrapreneur should also have a ‘safe space’ for experimenting and implementation of new ideas in school.
Using the index enables the staff to identify the specific needs of the intrapreneurs and focus on the professional and personal development processes required in the context of promoting initiatives in school.
The index reinforces the view that the power of educational teams in promoting intrapreneurship rests on the ability of inquiry and self-learning, and on the development and examination of solutions and alternatives. Therefore, in the process of developing school initiatives, a significant place should be given to the investigation and self-learning of an idea, and to creating solutions and alternatives to action.
Our experience shows that as long as the school staff investigates, studies and develops local educational solutions, the sense of ownership and connection to change and innovation ensures implementation and institutionalization of innovative educational solutions.
The Initiative: An analysis of the index in relation to the product of intrapreneurial activity shows that the assimilation of new initiatives developed by staff members is perceived to have a positive effect on the school. The implementation generates a sense of success and enables the development of new initiatives. It is necessary to encourage self-development of assessment tools to overcome the fear and challenge as often perceived by teachers and to be able to deepen and focus the needs and solutions developed.
“Intrapreneurial Culture” : motivation for intrapreneurship is based on a clear organizational statement that this is a key tool for innovation and change. This approach encourages the intrapreneurial activity of teachers and facilitates personal and organizational development. Another set of components relates to the exposure of staff to opportunities in which intrapreneurial thinking is needed as well as creating opportunities for feedback and moments of appreciation for intrapreneurial action.
There should be organizational processes that promote ongoing learning of and from initiatives, including mapping and identifying needs, examining possibilities and developing a theoretical basis for projects, evaluation and measurement, recruitment of partners, and more.
Where there is a clear and orderly routine of research, development, creation of a local theory, and defined work time devoted to the development and promotion of intrapreneurship , an organizational ‘cultural statement’ of educational intrapreneurial activity will prevail.
Finally, it is important to highlight the concept of “autonomy” as a crucial part of school reform. The index defines the concept through two components: the freedom of action given to teachers to advance their own initiatives, and the teachers’ ability to express an opinion different from the norm in the education system. Both allow the individual educator to find their personal expression and enable development with passion and freedom. This approach stands against the prevailing assumptions in the educational world by which “external” professionals have a better understanding of schools and the solutions required for the challenges they face. As much as school professionals will feel autonomous to develop ideas relating to specific challenges they face they will become more experienced in processes of development and implementation of innovative solutions to their local needs.