Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How to innovate your school

Recently, I read a great article about how schools can innovate with Google's Nine Principles of Innovation. And, I'm reminded of a recent TEDx (TEDx Congress Avenue) event I attended where innovation was defined as making something new with something "old." Anyone can innovate and innovation can be done immediately. Invention, on the other hand, is making something new out of something that did not exist. And, that can take years. However, schools do not need to invent. They can, though, innovate existing systems.

And, the best part is...anyone can innovate. It does not need to come from the top-down. Why not give students the power to innovate? Why not adapt learning so students are innovating and causing innovation at a larger, higher level?

At the first school where I taught, we were pioneers in the PLC movement. And, the question we had to reflect on everyday was - what do we do when students don't get it? The truth is - that answer changed for each student. There was not a one-size fits all solution to learning. Therefore, we had students who "just didn't get it." And, the solutions needed to intervene for each student were different. Keeping it the same would have been a detriment to those students. If the end goal is learning, that should be the priority. Many teachers will agree with that, but will contend that they are still forced to give grades. So, what's stopping us from innovating? Do we have to wait for upper level education to make the change away from current assessments?

And, the most innovative schools do just that - they give power to the collective brain power of their staff and students. They give employees that "20% time" to collaborate, innovate, and create. And, they understand that change happens rapidly now. Long-term implementation plans are not relevant anymore. But, that's the beauty of innovation - it's not an invention - and it does not need to happen over 12 years. It can happen today.

Most importantly, to me - innovative schools focus heavily on collaboration and sharing ideas. Staff and students are encouraged to network. Recently, I celebrated connected educators' month, but was disappointed by the small number of my staff who participated or who could say they were connected. Connected does not have to mean being on Twitter. Connected comes in many forms. But, being connected involves seeking information and ideas outside of your circle.

And, we all must be able to fail. I love the saying - fail forward. When we fail - as all innovators do - fail forward into a new discovery.

Are you innovating?

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