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.

DC blog

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.


 Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) Photo by Alan Taylor

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Photo by Alan Taylor


In the South this is our last week of school for students. A parent commented to me, Aren’t you glad the school year is almost over, Jodi?

To which my response was something like….

It gets quite quiet around here without the students. Our entire purpose is them. No. I’m not glad it’s almost over. I get sad and miss them while I’m alone in the quiet building.

I think I caught her off guard. There are Facebook postings, Twitter captions, and on and on about teachers being off for the summer. What message are we sending? Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe that we all need time off. Time to re-charge. Time with our families. Time for some choice professional growth. Time to rest and recuperate.

I get it. I’ve never been one to count down until the end of school, though. I hear people starting in February. Fourteen more Mondays.

Being around students and teachers invigorates me. I allows me to learn, grow, and be who I am.

Soon the process of closing down and getting ready for the new school year will begin. And the building…

Well, it will be just a little too quiet for me!

What is our Impact?

MRCPL Children CC BY-SA2.0

As a classroom teacher I tried to bring the best of the models that I had. Some of those models were teachers I had growing up; others were teachers I admired as I went through my program in college. I have vivid and positive memories of sixth grade. At the end of each day, our teachers would have the students in all four classes –the entire grade level–moved into the team room and spent the last minutes of the day reading a novel aloud to us.

We would look forward to one teacher in particular because she would get so involved in reading the novels –the characters, the voices. I distinctly remember her reading The Westing Game to us….so much so that when I taught fifth grade, The Westing Game was one of the novels that I chose to read to my own class. I tried so hard to get the voices just as perfectly as she did. I am quite certain that I did not, and they were never consistent from day-to-day. It was no easy task as there are so many characters in that novel. It made what she did seem even more amazing all those years later.

How incredible, though, that fifteen years after-the-fact, the impact she had on me– therefore on so many classes of students and my wanting to carry on a tradition of reading a treasured novel and sharing that experience with my own students. Now that’s impact.


calcThere are so many resources out there claiming to be made for Common Core. I keep seeing them all over Pinterest, but when I look at them, they are often the same old worksheets or rote practice dressed up in something pretty. Often they are computer games that are just encouraging rote memorization which is everything that CC is not. I do have to say that the Georgia training webinars have done a nice job of explaining the purpose of CC as well as why it is so important for our students to get the conceptual knowledge, fluency, and understanding of numbers.

This link is to a Georgia math wiki that includes videos, conversations, and resources that are wonderful for deep math instruction that our students deserve –whether they live in Georgia or not!

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