The Learning Accelerator Blog/A Warm Welcome to the Innovation Directors Network!

innovation research & measurement

A Warm Welcome to the Innovation Directors Network!

by Juliana Finegan on July 2 2018

Last week, The Learning Accelerator (TLA) brought together 15 amazing leaders from across the United States for our inaugural launch of the Innovation Directors Network (IDN). Participants were invited to join based on their strong work in leading blended and personalized learning at the system level. The group represented 10 districts and five charter management organizations (CMOs) serving over 800,000 students in urban, suburban, and rural schools. By establishing an ongoing convening of such a diverse group with wide-ranging experiences, backgrounds, and expertise, TLA hopes to not only uncover ecosystem challenges and ways to support this work at scale, but also allow leaders to build authentic relationships and supports with each other.


The launch of the IDN is an extension of TLA’s last two years of accelerating the building of collective knowledge about innovation practices. Through our work (including our ThinkTank convenings, independent research, and networking), we’ve found that many of the people leading innovation in schools (often titled “directors of innovation” or something similar) commonly operate on virtual islands and don’t have the networks or additional capacity to connect with others doing similar work across the country. We created the IDN to build a community to surface sector-wide challenges, engage in professional learning, and capture and codify best practices across the field to better scale and support an equitable education for all students.

It is our hope and expectation that through sharing lessons and taking collective action, the IDN will be a powerful contributor for change in education. Our first convening definitely confirmed this need – both from the eagerness and energy that we all shared to the thoughtful words of the participants, sampled below.

“Our roles are unique, both in the specific context of our schools and in what we are tasked with accomplishing. Establishing a personal learning network is challenging, as there are so few of us across the country. The IDN fills that void in an important way – not only by identifying the individuals and facilitating problem-solving among us, but also by creating space for authentic relationships to be built. The relational seeds planted at our first convening will undoubtedly reap benefits as we tackle common problems and share learnings with one another. I feel so thankful to be a part of the group!” - Nate Kellogg, Director of Personalized Learning, ReNEW Schools

“The IDN builds powerful relationships among a diverse set of educators from across the country to study and innovate new approaches to successfully nurture personalized learning for all learning communities. It provides the structure and expertise to help leaders who often work in isolation to collaborate in virtual teams to deepen their own practice and support the growth of colleagues and the school systems they work in.” - Michael Fauteux, Director of Innovation, Leadership Public Schools


We will be sharing out findings over the next few weeks through blogs from TLA and the field leaders doing this work. Stay tuned and feel free to reach out with any questions! These leaders are already changing education in their systems, and we are so grateful for their time and participation to make their future work together possible.

About the Author

Juliana Finegan is a Partner at The Learning Accelerator. Email comments to