Though teachers are working harder than ever,
and we have more standards and testing than ever, and our curriculum is more aligned than ever,
what we’re doing isn’t working.
It’s working for some of our kids; it’s probably working for your kids if you are reading a blog about education. But, it isn’t working for ALL of our kids.
It’s not just my opinion; over 21 studies show virtually the same thing.
- Less than half of our students feel positively about their college and career readiness. YouthTruth Student Survey 2015
- Just under half of our kiddos report feeling engaged in school, and a fifth are actively disengaged. Gallup Student Poll 2016
- Student engagement drops yearly from 5th grade to 11th grade, only rising slightly when seniors see the light at the end of the tunnel. Gallup Student Poll 2015
So, what can we do for the kids not represented by the blue bars, for the ones who aren’t engaged?
That’s why we innovate.
Mistakes are not really something I have embraced. In first grade, Mrs. Arnold told me that she was going to take my eraser away from me if I didn’t quit using it so much.
For most of my time in the classroom, I did my best to keep my students from making mistakes. I thought it was my job to prevent kiddos from messing up. Maybe that was a mistake. . .
As I’ve grown as a teacher, I’ve grown into the idea that it really is good to let learners fail, to have them do the hard work, to allow them to learn from the struggle. Though I grew up with a fixed mindset, I’ve been working to have more of a growth mindset.
But Jo Boaler (@joboaler) moved me a little further this week in #IMMOOC Season 3, Episode 1. She explained that mistakes cause our brains to spark and grow. Really!?! That was a big shock. How can that be? Well, I’ll spare you the science, but it has something to do with firing synapses. Read more here.
So, instead of creating learning experiences where kiddos don’t have to make mistakes, we should be designing learning experiences that encourage mistakes.
I get it; that means more project and problem-based learning, more inquiry, more real-world problem solving. But, does it mean no more “gradual release;” no more “I do, we do, you do”?
What do you think?
To be honest, I don’t really like the word “innovation.” It’s a noun, a label. After something is invented or created or built, someone announces, “THAT is an innovation.”
People are always asking what it is, “how should we define innovation?”
Well, maybe we shouldn’t.
Maybe instead of trying to define innovation, we should just innovate. Take action. Go for it. Take a leap. Make things better. Do something!
I just read a great post by Kelli McCoy about her journey from technology integration to teaching like a PIRATE. She is taking action, going for it, trying new strategies to make things better for her kids.
That’s what it means to innovate: it’s a verb.
Yesterday, George Couros posted “3 More Critical Questions for the Innovative Educator” The second question, “How can we be innovative given the constraints that we have to work within?” resonated with me and reminded me of my reading from this summer.
I’m a digital learning coach for an organization that services over 100 schools districts. Recently, we have reorganized to better serve our district. I believe in the change, and the purpose behind the change. But, as a part of the change, several processes and procedures have come down the pike that are making me feel boxed in, constrained.
George’s question reminded me of one of my favorite lines from Launch by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani :
So, I’m reminded that it is time to “Think Inside the Box. Yes, things are changing, and some of those changes might not even be for the best. But, I can still innovate. I can do something new, something better for kids. Even this “change is an opportunity to do something amazing.”
So, what will I do, you ask? Well, I don’t know yet. These are ideas:
- Get to know people in my new work area. Learn from them. Honor their genius by posting their nuggets of wisdom? Invite them to #IMMOOC.
- Set up a professional Instagram account to reach out and learn, to be where our students are, where are young teachers are.
- Create some micro-learning units that we can share with districts and use with our coaching?
For the next several weeks, I’ll be participating in The Innovator’s Mindset MOOC. We’ll be reading the book, connecting with others, and I will be posting reflections here. I’ve tried blogs and failed before. My hope is that this will help me develop a habit of posting reflections regularly. Would you keep me accountable?
Will you join me on the journey?
Here’s how to get started.
This first week, we’re focusing on the Introduction to the book. Watch the YouTube with Dave Burgess and see this week’s challenges here.