The way Noble Schools creates curriculum standards with teams of Noble teachers and staff members is evolving. The Academics Team at Noble has been working hard to improve these teams, formerly known as Hedgehog, and the way they’re formed. Now, they are known as the Innovation Collective.

We heard from the Academics Team about this change was necessary and what staff, students and their families can expect from the Innovation Collective as we head back to school this year:

Q: Why was this change necessary for Noble?

A: Due to past priorities, processes and shortcomings within Hedgehog, many of our teams were homogenous and didn’t represent the diversity of our staff. Many employees were wary of Hedgehog spaces, believing that their differing opinions, experiences, content expertise, and demonstrations of strength were not valued or welcomed.

As such, the Academics Team needed to take responsibility for inflicting that harm and distrust, intentional or not, and work to repair those relationships and cultivate healthy, diverse and welcoming spaces. 

Restructuring and rebranding was the clear next step in this work.

Q: How was the Innovation Collective formed?

A: In the spring of 2020, the Academics team noted its Hedgehog space as an area of need when it came to exhibiting Noble’s core value of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Feedback gathered from Hedgehog members and staff who were reluctant to apply for the team wholly informed our process. When Noble committed to becoming an antiracist organization, it reaffirmed the importance of restructuring and rebranding the Hedgehog space.

Throughout the fall and winter of 2020, the Academics team consulted with Noble’s Equity team, gathered feedback from Hedgehog members, restructured Hedgehog teams and systems, and went through a rebranding process with an external consultant. The result of this collaboration and thought partnering is the redesigned Innovation Collective.

Q: How is the Innovation Collective different from Hedgehog?

A: What makes the Innovation Collective different from Hedgehog is a holistic approach to reviewing applicants for our teams. We are now prioritizing the staff member’s content expertise and de-emphasizing standardized assessment results in their classes. We also consider fluidity amongst teams for greater cohesion and coherence and leadership opportunities within teams.

Want to Learn More About Innovation Collective?

Q: What are the key goals of the Innovation Collective?

A: While we ultimately work to ensure our scholars are engaged in safe, supported, and intellectually stimulating classrooms, it is important to us to create collaborative spaces that encourage rich discussion and equip staff with sharpening tools that hone their practices.

Our greatest goal is to create teams that mirror the diversity of all our instructional staff. 

Q: How are you making sure that this change is effective?

A: These are the objectives we set for ourselves for the rebranding:

    • Curate an applicant pool and put together final teams that are representative of all Noble instructional staff
    • Build curricula that welcome and affirm each student’s unique identity and values community cultural wealth
    • Create leadership opportunities for more people of color, namely Black staff, in Noble’s Instructional Leadership spaces

This year, we met our goal of creating teams representative of Noble’s Black staff and staff from High Equity Index campuses*. In the future, we hope to measure the responsiveness of our curricula through student and teacher feedback. Longer-term, we also hope that our Innovation Collective rebranding allows for more instructional leadership opportunities for our staff of color and staff from High Equity Index campuses.

Q: How does Innovation Collective help Noble to become an anti-racist organization?

A: One intention behind the Innovation Collective is to address and redress the harm that anti-Blackness perpetuated in our Hedgehog spaces.

The hope is that the changes made to the Innovation Collective program will provide space for our staff to be their authentic selves and be celebrated and affirmed for who they are.

Improving the inclusiveness in our spaces will also aid in producing resources that welcome and affirm our students’ identities and values community cultural wealth. Both of these goals align directly with Noble’s Anti-Racism Commitment.

Q: How do you see this rebranding and restructuring changing Noble as a whole?

A:  The hope is that with the changes made to our Innovation Collective process and team space, we will see more people of color, specifically our Black staff, have opportunities for growth within Noble. In addition, we believe that the resources the Innovation Collective teams create will help Noble continue to push forward with its Anti-Racism Commitment. 

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*The Noble Equity Index combines the factors including quality of feeder elementary schools, the prevalence of serious crime near students’ homes, rate of transitional living situations, rate of IEPs at a campus, and prevalence of serious crime surrounding a campus into a single number to allow us to direct additional resources, attention, and support in equitable ways. Learn more in our 2019-2024 Strategic Plan.

To learn more about the Innovation Collective, head over to their website

For more on how Noble Schools is returning back to in-person learning safely, head to nobleschools.org/coronavirus/

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