Day 68 (of 183) on innovation
I like innovations.
My dad definitely tainted this thinking for me. He brought in computers microwaves and a secondary timetable that blended Copernican semester linear and a few “open” schedules into one (he strongly believed in having PE & math run year long for all students). He also encouraged me young & often to think out of the box (almost got a radio station going – a dream that was picked up -successfully- by others in the community!)
When stifled I don’t do well. At a time when “we” we’re encouraged to do different & think outside of the box, my first bunch of ideas and thoughts were met with a flat ‘nope’ which led to a couple of reference checks in a new district (my references and resume-checker were asking an equal number of questions to ensure I was a ‘good fit’).
But it always leads me to a burning question about innovation -is a requirement being stifled? Is there a nemesis that needs to be overcome? What if enabling occurred?
I know via Geniushour and Self-Organized-Learning-Environments we often walked a line between supporting and enabling students using ‘good’ questions (not yes/no/one-answer-only responses).
Am I sometimes an irritant? I would hope so – it’s how I keep pushing the technologization agenda (I’ve moved on to iPads & tablets while others are wrapping heads and arms around laptops – but that’s because I went through that exploration a decade ago). Reminding myself that innovation comes to different people at different times and it is okay that what is innovative thinking to one is ‘old hat’ to another.
I try to build ‘innovative learning spaces’ by first working on key mindsets:
Gotta be okay with taking risks. I let those that work with me know that it’s okay to make mistakes along the way….in fact I encourage it. I also know that I may have a red face from time to time when talking with my bosses. I’m okay with taking risks in part because I’ve been proven right more times than not – and many actually ending up being right vs right discussion points. It also helps that my dad and two principal mentors at key times in my career showed/enabled me greatly to ‘think different’.
Gotta have a growth mindset. Thinking that (for example) an IQ is static is too ‘old school’. Things change. Shift happens. Whether you are positive or negative about things, you’re right….
Gotta be willing to explore. Read. Read more. Not just published books – blogs tweets and rants can be very informative and inspiring.
Then you need to try. Something. Anything. Innovations are not always ‘doing everything new or different’. More often it’s a slight adaption for one student that suddenly works for…..more students. This has become one of my interview questions: tell me a time you took a risk and failed (Landy will provide a personal example during the interview) – oh, yeah – because I’m at a school that has anxiety as its #1 goal/focus we send interview questions out prior to ‘the day’ – I want good answers (though one mystery question will be picked during the interview as well)
At the end of the day, innovators know/think that things can/should/will be better. Or if you loved your personal learning journey, accepting that it will be different…..cause the world is different – are classrooms different from when we were the pupils?
Am I an early adopter? Sure – in some things. But in probably a better re-purposer. Am I trying to make things difficult for people? Yep. For some – absolutely. But only because I want my kids educational journeys to be even better than mine was….because I think – or I know – it can be!