Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Simplest Definition of Innovation in Schools

I'm currently in the Innovative Teaching Academy. It's a class put on by my friend, AJ Juliani. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this great class and learn from so many awesome people. 

"What is innovation?" is the topic of the week. We had to answer that question by creating a meme. (Sidenote - George Couros' book, "The Innovator's Mindset" is a fantastic read on the topic. It affirmed many of my beliefs about what being an innovator truly is. I suggest you give it a read.)

This is my meme. 


I imagine someone a lot smarter than I did came up with some grand definition of what innovation in schools really is. Problem is, I probably couldn't understand it because there would be big words. So, how about we keep it really easy. 

The quick answer to this is that if students are truly engaged, it's probably innovative. If students don't want to leave your room to go to the restroom, it's innovative. They'll hold it. They'll do the pee-pee dance while working. Their eyes will start to have a yellow tint. They'll do whatever it takes to stay in the room. My best lessons are like this. I can see it happening. There is a certain energy during this type of learning. I also have a ton of dud lessons. Hopefully, I can eventually make all of them innovative. It takes time. 

The simplest definition of what innovation is in schools is if your students are doing the pee-pee dance while creating then it must be innovation. 

It takes courage, a huge amount of bravery, a willingness to leave your comfort zone, and to ultimately let go of the fear of failing. I had to get over myself for real innovation to take place. I had to release control, release the "I'm the most important person in the room" mode, and release the "Learning Isn't About the Teachers" role. Get over yourself. 

I remember the first time that I tried Genius Hour / Passion Projects four years ago. I had no idea what I was really doing. I pitched it as a do anything you want and just show us what you learned by creating something that you present. Pretty sure no one left to use the bathroom that day. 

Trust. I had administrators that ok'd my adventure. They trusted that I knew what I was doing and knew it was what was best for kids. They were also there to check-in and bounce ideas off of. 

Just do it. Yes, that's Nike's slogan, but for crying out loud, do something. 

Get out there and do something. Push yourself. Put yourself in your learners' shoes. Would they really want to be in your class if you said it was optional? 



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