In the elementary classroom, teachers have the opportunity to create an innovative and dynamic learning environment by encouraging creativity and risk-taking among their students. By fostering a culture of innovation in your elementary classroom, you can inspire your students to think outside the box, explore new ideas, and develop critical thinking skills. These are the skills they will need to succeed in a changing world where innovation and adaptability are increasingly important.

In this article, we will explore ideas, opinions and resources from the web to help you build a culture of innovation in your classroom:

Foster Innovation Through Building Cross-Disciplinary (Coffeehouse) Environments

Infusing the Basics With the Spirit of Innovation
Your school can innovate without sacrificing the foundations of education by utilizing teachers’ strong suits, embedding innovative practices, empowering students to lead, and engaging families.

Innovators often build cross-disciplinary environments to foster creativity. Teachers can learn from each other regardless of their job title, and by sharing their teaching philosophies and methods, they can enhance the learning experience for their students.

By creating structured collaboration time, we can encourage teachers from different disciplines to share their expertise and work together to merge their approaches with what's already taking place in the classroom. So, for example, regular education teachers can benefit from art and music teachers' creative teaching methods and techniques.

"Many of history's greatest innovators managed to build a cross-disciplinary coffeehouse environment within their own private work routines." - Steven Johnson, author of "Where good ideas come from".

Classroom Tip: Organise a "teacher swap" day. Teachers from different subjects or specialties can swap classrooms for a day and observe each other's teaching methods to get fresh ideas.

Teach Perseverance Through Makerspaces

How to help kids innovate from an early age
Creative makerspaces in Ontario schools weave passion with digital technologies to teach 21st century skills.

In makerspaces, students are encouraged to persist through challenges, take risks, learn from mistakes, and persevere in problem-solving. By establishing a maker culture, students develop a maker mindset that fosters perseverance and resilience. Meaningful innovation will require time and effort and also involve plenty of failures.

To foster innovation, we must present our learners with more significant challenges that may not work out the first time and coach them on what to do when they get stuck.

"In order for schools to establish a true makerspace, there must be buy-in and a commitment from staff, students and the wider community — to establish a culture of innovation, trial-and-error, problem-solving, persevering through difficult tasks, learning from mistakes and taking risks." - Janette Hughes, Canada Research Chair in Technology and Pedagogy, Ontario Tech University

Classroom Tip: Start a mini makerspace in your elementary classroom. To get started, identify a small space in your classroom dedicated to making and creating. You only need a little space to start a makerspace, just enough room for students to work on projects and access basic supplies and materials.

Starting a School Makerspace from Scratch
Successfully launching a school makerspace includes community buy-in, generating a student buzz, finding cheap or free resources, and building maker activities into the curriculum.

Rewarding Effort to Encourage Risk-Taking in the Classroom

How Do I Teach Innovation? | Common Sense Education
Foster creative problem-solving, perseverance, and grit in the classroom.

Carol Dweck's research on the growth mindset shows that praising students for their ability to get the correct answers discourages them from taking risks and being innovative. As elementary teachers, we must acknowledge that each class has students entering school at different levels and skills, but we can encourage them to put more effort towards learning activities. When we praise students for their effort, even if the outcome isn't perfect, they will be motivated to continue putting in their best effort.

It's important to emphasize the processes that lead to these outcomes, such as seeking help from others, trying new strategies, and using setbacks as opportunities for growth. Praising these processes encourages students to take risks and develop resilience. When teachers focus on effort and progress rather than just outcomes, students are likelier to take on meaningful challenges and persevere through difficulty.

"This isn't to say that we should ignore the product. Students still need timely and accurate feedback, but praise should focus on effort and not outcomes." - Steve K., international educator.

Classroom Tip:  Praise students who take risks, try new strategies, and ask for help. Celebrate their progress.

Additional Resources

10 Ways to Teach Innovation | KQED
Innovation and the current classroom model most often operate as antagonists. The system is evolving, but not quickly enough to get young people ready for the new world. But there are a number of ways that teachers can bypass the system and offer students the tools and experiences that spur an innov…


To conclude, establishing a culture of innovation is a powerful way to inspire your students and transform them into successful learners.

By celebrating creativity, encouraging risk-taking, providing opportunities for collaboration, promoting a growth mindset, and emphasizing the value of critical thinking, you can create a classroom environment that fosters innovation and inspires your students to think creatively and boldly.

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