Wednesday, June 17, 2015

#YourEduStory - What is pedagogical innovation?

This week's topic: what is pedagogical innovation?

According to Meriam-Webster, pedagogy is the method and practice of teaching, especially for an academic or theoretical concept. Likewise, innovation is a new method or product.

If you combine the two definitions, "pedagogical innovation" should mean a new method of teaching.

However, this seems to mean a variety of things to different people. We think of innovation as "better," even though it just means "new." And, as we know, new is not always better. This is where schools, businesses, and governement can be steered incorrectly. We think of innovation and pedagogical innovation as a good thing. But, that translates to: anything new we try must be better or, as some do it: doing something new for the sake of doing something new. This is no different than those who use technology for the sake of technology.

To me, pedagogical innovation is a new method of teaching that enhances previous methods. It is not used merely for the sake of trying something new. This does not lead to new, sustained, methods of teaching. Instead, it leads to the cycles we see in education.

When I first started teaching, my mentor teacher told me that I would see certain practices and methods return multiple times. These methods are not sustained methods of practice. Rather, they are new methods that are used for the sake of trying something new.

A revised definition of pedagogical innovation should include words like: enhance, sustain, transform. These are the new practices we want.

I am a huge believer in maker and creator environments. I am also a supporter of bringing coding and programs like MinecraftEDU into the classroom; however, all of these can fall under practices that may be new, but may not be sustainable. The problem is often in the education surrounding these new methods. Hour of Code produced an awareness around coding. But, many teachers I talk to still do not see or understand WHY it is important. When introducing a new method, it is critical to also emphasize the why. Without the why, it is not sustainable and it will not transform. Instead, it will be just another new idea some teachers feel forced to try.

Pedagogical innovation is also more than coming to a district and initating new practices. It is putting measures in place so they will be sustained. A former boss of mine once told me that true innovation is when, after you leave a place, the practices carry on. If the practices only continue while you are there, you are not innovating. You are introducing a new wave of thought, but you are not transforming.

There is a great video about leaders and followers, as shown through dance. The leaders are those who have the crazy, innovative, new ideas. We need them to introduce new methods. But, we need the followers to create a movement and to sustain a movement. Without the followers, we just have a few crazy ideas. This is pedagogical innovation to me. It is more than a few new methods of teaching. It is a sustained movement within and outside of the school.

How will you sustain and nuture change?

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