Innovation: Necessary or Hype?


Innovation has become such a buzz word today. What does it truly mean? Do we need it in schools? By definition it is a new method, idea, or product. Do we always need NEW in schools? If what we’re doing is working, is that okay? I challenge us as a profession to dig deep. Is everything we’re doing working?

In some ways, certainly. We build great relationships with students. That works. We know this. This is the basis for everything and should be where it starts. No innovation needed here!

Sometimes though, classrooms look like the picture above. Do these promote the skills that today’s students need to go into the workplace TODAY and TOMORROW? Probably not. Innovate & change.

Here we can see students learning skills that they need for today’s world. They are collaborating and communicating with one another. The classroom is organized so that they can do just that. The teacher is working with students helping them be engaged in the learning. Students are learning by being immersed in it rather than passive recipients. Simple innovations that allow students to learn the skills of today rather than yesterday.

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Innovation. Change what we teach. This has become a controversial topic in our profession. Computers. Phones. Internet. These can all automate so much of the content that we used to need to keep in our brains. Don’t get me wrong, we still need to teach it. However, problem solving, collaborating, team work, critical thinking, organization curiosity, and LOVE of learning are possibly more important. These are not skills that can be automated. Shifting our priorities a bit can have a huge impact!

The quote above from David Culberhouse demonstrates how quickly the world is changing and has changed. We the educators can equip ourselves first to prepare our students. The time is now. Innovation and change are banging on our doors.

Are we ready?

Let’s make them excited about school. Let’s make every child run into school. Let’s make it so that teachers can build relationships and meet those students’ needs so that they cannot wait for each day to come.

It is possible. This should be our goal in INNOVATION.


The Future is Now!

As I watch this video, as few things stand out to me.

1. Personalized learning: students are doing what seems to be interesting to them and therefore it engages them. This is so much of what we’re talking about in the world of education these days. Just today, I spent much of my day at a conference talking about our district’s personalized learning initiative and how that looks from a broad view as well as getting into some of the nitty gritty details of it. Our students need to have learning be meaningful to them. I think back to the early years of my career when I had to write out each student and the instruction he/she would get per group and then change that at the end of the day for the next day based on what had occurred. As more devices become available, this process will become so much more streamlined and classrooms will even be able to have a blended environment for learning.

2. Student engagement: students are engaged in the video. Whatever the content, with or without technology, I want my students to love what they’re doing and find meaningful connections in it. As we continue to add technology and more sophistication to what we do, teaching is still an art first and foremost. The teacher gets to guide students to find that meaning and help those light bulbs go off.

For me, I look forward to this time of the year so much! There is always something special in the air as we set up rooms and get to know our teams. This year I set new goals in a new role. I cannot wait to work side-by-side with teachers so that those student light bulbs of engagement and excitement can explode. We might not be able to pull a science beaker out of the air, but we certainly can inspire students through the connections that we make.

The future is here.

The future is now.

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