How do we maintain excellence as we innovate?
Change! A word that we as teacher either love or hate because we face changes constantly. I love the challenge of change and making something new work in the environment in which I teach. The school year did not start out so great for Kiita Learning Community, we had a complete change of teachers except for me. The change was too much for our student and raised a lot of problems. I had to be the glue and maintain excellence as a teacher with all this change. WOW! I was tested.
What do we mean by “innovation?”
My computer gives me the definition: the action or process of innovating.
• A new method, idea, product, etc.
Ed.gov says, “Innovation is the spark of insight that leads a scientist or inventor to investigate an issue or phenomenon. That insight is usually shaped by an observation of what appears to be true or the creative jolt of a new idea. Innovation is driven by a commitment to excellence and continuous improvement. Innovation is based on curiosity, the willingness to take risks, and experimenting to test assumptions. Innovation is based on questioning and challenging the status quo. It is also based on recognizing opportunity and taking advantage of it.” (http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oii/about/definition.html)
I believe my district is being an innovator in our curriculum for math, science and language arts. We have been on a plan for four years now to integrate these three contents with state standards and the Inupiaq culture. We are the front-runners for the state. We are in a constant state of flux and change. How do I maintain my excellence during all this change? This changes goes right along with what I believe in and do already. I am an innovator! My can plan a lesson and rarely does it go as plan. For example, I was teaching North Slope Science and we had planned a field trip to go collect plants from the tundra. The students we excited and ready to go that day. My bus was cancelled due to no driver and I had to come up with another lesson really quick. I made homemade blueberry jam with my class. We ended up with 20 jars and everyone went home with one. I am constantly improving my teaching and lessons. I learn something new almost everyday and what to incorporate it into my classroom.
In Erica Swallow’s article she states that Tony Wagner came up with a set of core competencies that every student must master before the end of high school. They are:
- – Critical thinking and problem solving (the ability to ask the right questions)
- – Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
- – Agility and adaptability
- – Initiative and entrepreneurialism
- – Accessing and analyzing information
- – Effective written and oral communication
- – Curiosity and imagination
She also says that Wagner said, “The culture of schooling as we all know it is radically at odds with the culture of learning that produces innovators.” He identified five ways in which America’s education system is stunting innovation:
- Individual achievement is the focus
- Specialization is celebrated and rewarded
- Risk aversion is the norm
- Learning is profoundly passive
- Extrinsic incentives drive learning.
Swallow goes on to same more awesome things about Wagner and his book. Read the book and/or article.
Village schools for the junior high and high school levels should be run more like an alternative school. We have to work and be ready for change all the time. Dave Burgess gave five reasons why teachers might be afraid start:
- The fear of failure
- Believing you have to figure it all before you begin
- Lack of focus
- Fear of criticism or ridicule.
We must teach our children never to be afraid to try something new. We must set examples for them. Burgess says, “We aren’t just teaching facts to memorize or skills to learn; we’re uplifting lives and helping students fulfill their human potential. We’re shaping the mothers, fathers, world leaders, entrepreneurs, and artists of tomorrow. Anyone with the most rudimentary understanding of geometric progression realizes that our students will interact and influence millions. It’s a mighty purpose, indeed.” (2012)
Burgess, Dave (2012). Teach Like a PIRATE: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator (Kindle Locations 1828-1830). Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
Swallow, Erica. Creating Innovators: Why America’s Education System Is Obsolete. Entrepreneurs. 4/25/2012
What Do We Mean by “Innovation”? U.S. Department of Education. http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oii/about/definition.html