A few weeks ago I shared some thoughts on innovation in a post titled Curious about innovation in K12. Attending Edcamp Hershey today, my colleagues and I took advantage of the opportunity to engage in a conversation with educators about this topic by offering a session, How do we lead innovation? — supporting curriculum, instruction and assessment. Thanks to my leadership colleagues Ross Cooper (@rosscoops31), Ken Parliman (@kenparliman) and Rob Sawicki (@sms8thgradess) for sharing in the conversation as well.
The session went well and I was particularly pleased with the way we structured it. We started with a modification of the Question Formulation Technique (QFT), asking the participants to brainstorm questions around the topic of innovation. After generating as many questions as possible in the allotted time, we asked them to add the 3 most important questions to the session document. Be sure to click through to see what we came up with. The questions then provided the fuel for an extended conversation that lasted around 40 minutes.
Reflecting on the hour, here are my three takeaways and a question:
- Innovation is context dependent. What is innovative in one classroom or school may not necessarily be innovative in another context, for example, an online learning environment. This can also make it challenging to define innovation and messy to implement it.
- Engage students in conversations. This was also a theme from the last Edcamp I attended. It’s easy to forget about the students, but as we move forward, more clearly defining innovative practices for our leaders, students and teachers, we cannot forget this voice.
- Innovation must be grounded in a WHY. Innovation for innovations sake is not OK. How is the work tied to what students should know and be able to do? If the innovation is not, then it’s probably not worth doing or needs to be modified so it can be mapped to standards.
- Where are the leaders? Yes…anyone can be a leader, and clearly the participants are teacher-leaders in their school contexts. I mean the school leaders. If we are ever to achieve change that is system-wide we need to have school leaders understanding the value of having these conversations and following them up with action plans. Engaging the leaders (and parents and students) is the only way we will move beyond pockets of innovative teachers. I am grateful we have leaders on the team willing to engage in this important conversation.
Be sure to check out the document for more questions as well as resources shared by several of the participants.
Are you engaging stakeholders in the important conversation about innovation? Why is this important?