Learn About the
Reinvention Lab

“Transforming ourselves to
radically transform learning.”

Our Motto, Inspired by  Grace Lee Boggs

What We Do

We build new offerings for TFA that reinvent education.

We share what we learn from our R&D work to shape both TFA and the field of education.

How We Do It

We work directly with young people on our team to co-design and co-learn with those most impacted by the education system.

We work in community and reciprocal relationship with equity and innovation leaders, understanding that innovation thrives in partnership and co-learning.

Where we're focusing

As Teach For America's early stage R&D Laboratory, our work is constantly changing.
However, this academic year, we are focused on building prototypes, pilots and programs towards two broad "field facing challenges": 

We’re at the start of a technological and economic revolution.

Past tech revolutions have transformed our politics, economy, & society. But they haven’t really improved education, especially for the most marginal learners.

Non-dominant groups get left holding the bag in these moments: greater inequity, less room to shape emerging tech, and disproportionately impacted by algorithmic bias.

Getting involved early allows us to direct the use of AI equitably toward the reinvention of learning.

It also enables us to help educators make meaning of rapid advances & a deluge of new tools – so they can empower better teaching & learning.

High school students struggle to figure out what to do after they graduate.

Schools are largely not designed to support them in that. Often we find counselors in schools overwhelmed and overworked, managing as much as a 1:400 student-to-counselor ratio: and still finding heroic ways to help students navigate their futures.

Over the last year, research in other areas converged on this topic as one of urgent need: young people in high school and post-high school, as well as educators, administrators, parents, and others spoke to the needs of young folks to explore their futures and the lack of support currently available for that transition point.

Our R&D in this area focused on reinvented ways to ensure young people have more agency, power, and knowledge to shape their future.

Humans of The Reinvention Lab

How We Show Up

These are the values that guide how we create, collaborate, and authentically pursue reinvention.

We honor life, love, and humanity.

So we aspire to: 

  • Only take on work that we’re resourced to do well
  • Encourage play, creativity, and joy
  • We seek transformational partnerships over transactional ones
  • Check-in on each other
  • Build from existing strengths
  • Hold space for tough conversations and the honest expression of pain, difficulty, fatigue, and grief 

We are part of a larger ecosystem.

So we aspire to: 

  • Build with, not for
  • Never appropriate; always credit 
  • Root our work in empathy and community
  • De-center ourselves and recenter community leaders, learners, and ancestral wisdom 
  • Acknowledge history and harm
  • User our power, platform, and privilege to elevate others  
  • Orient to service, not saviorism

We think big. We start small.

So we aspire to: 

  • Behave as though “What we practice at a small scale can reverberate to the largest scale.”
  • Test new ideas in small settings and learn before committing to larger projects or programs
  • Think about scale in terms of depth, rather than breadth 
  • Transform systems from the ground up

We seek out radically different perspectives and welcome productive discontent.

So we aspire to: 

  • Share power with young people (under the age of 20), involving them in key advisory and decision-making roles
  • Staff an internal team that represents diverse identities, disciplines, and experiences
  • Tap consultants and thought partners across backgrounds, geographies, philosophies, and skillsets
  • Seek inspiration in unlikely places, including in sectors outside of education
  • Hold each other accountable to combating white supremacy culture 

We wrestle with multiple truths, rather than accept a singular Truth.

So we aspire to: 

  • Question what seem to be clear dichotomies 
  • Replace performance culture with respect for imperfection, ambiguity, and learning in public

Our Connection to
Teach For America

Teach For America seeks to ensure all children have access to an excellent education. But the definition of excellent is not fixed— instead, it is constantly evolving to meet the needs of young people and the rapidly changing world.

If we are to remain a powerful and relevant force in the education discussion, we must also evolve. We must be in deep partnership with those forging a new future, constantly interrogating the implications for our work. We must acknowledge both the brilliance and harm of our history, zeroing in on the unique assets we have to bring to this moment. We must be willing to imagine and test bold ideas and commit to ways of being that enable us to be nimble.

The Reinvention Lab aims to be an exploratory space in which TFA can lean into this next frontier— to look ahead to where the education sector must go and identify tactics, insights, and modes of operating that can catalyze this future.

What is Innovative

The majority of students today are going to schools that were designed for yesterday. That system - built for the assembly-line era - prioritizes rote memorization, affirms a narrow set of identities, and assumes a one-size-fits-all solution.

And yet the world is changing beneath our feet. An automation economy demands new skills and births new industries. Movements for environmental sustainability and racial justice call us to merge activism with critical innovation. Our country’s democratic institutions are under threat from misinformation and division. We must ask: will our current education system prepare the next generation to thrive in and transform these realities?

Our answer is a clear no. We must co-create something radically different, that interrogates and redefines the why, the what, and the how of learning across our country.

Reinvention doesn’t always mean new.

But it does mean a radical departure from the status quo.

Read Doc

Want to learn more? Explore
The Case for Reinvention.

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