What is educational intrapreneurship?

I look at our job as teachers as being one of designing learning experiences for our students. And I have often thought of this process of designing these learning experiences as involving heavy amounts of risk taking and innovation. So one day as I was reading something or the other about entrepreneurial thinking I came across the term “intrapreneurship”. I came to learn that this was a term that was created by Gifford Pinchot III. He defined it the following way: “Those who take hands-on responsibility for creating innovation of any kind, within a business”.

This was a game-changing sentiment to me at the time. Since we as teachers are in the business of education, I made the connection that this is an apt description of what we do when we are at our best. We are taking initiative to create unique new ways in which to create learning experiences for our students. So in creating this blog, I thought this is the perfect manner in which to describe what I want to write about.

So what does educational intrapreneurship look like? I feel that it can take many forms, but at its core it is any learning that you design and implement at your school. Since we are all working “within” some school or institution, we are all working within the broader vision of that institution. While entrepreneurs create things from the ground up, we as teachers are most often working within an organization and so are having to build things from within. And I personally think that there is a lot of value in this type of innovation, and one that is often overlooked and undervalued.

For example, let’s say I am tasked with teaching how to solve quadratic equations in my mathematics classroom. I have two options, I can take the activities from the teacher text book, follow the pre-designed lesson plan and sequence, issue the pre-made assessments on the recommended date, and correction the test with the given answer key. And I could do all of this with doing very little if any deep thinking, and any other teacher could replicate that process and create a very similar experience for their students somewhere else in the world.

Or instead I can use a little intrapreneurial thinking and I could examine the provided activities, pick them apart, pull out the elements that I think will support student learning. Make adjustments to the scope and sequence of the learning, work with students to write our own success criteria and learning targets. Utilize student input to create formative assessments and create self-assessment opportunities based on the pace of the learning. Collaboratively design the unit assessment and allow for student agency in deciding how they can showcase their learning.

That is educational intrapreneurship!

In what I described I am working within the school organization to create innovation. It’s powerful stuff. It makes me as the teacher an active change agent working in collaboration with the students that are participating in the learning. It is an iterative process that asks the participants to be calculated risk takers. It requires us to independently research, to collaborate with our peers and be self-reflective in the process. As educators we are more than just facilitators of learning, we are designers, implementers, and co-creators!

To me this is a much more exciting type of education to be a part of. I hope to find more like minded teachers, learners, and designers who share this mindset and are looking to engage with others who feel the same way. It’s cool to be different. It’s exciting to initiate change. It’s important that we are reflective agents for change in the education space.

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