Innovation…First steps

learning from experts

Paul Johnson, G4 teacher at our school, is modeling being an innovator during his class Genius Day. He wanted to learn how to make tortillas better. So he invited the experts in – a parent from a different class and her daughter – to teach him the secret to making better tortillas. While he did that, his students enthusiastically continued their own projects.

“The first step in teaching students to innovate is making sure that educators have opportunities to be innovators themselves.” -Suzie Boss, Bringing Innovation to School: Empowering Students to Thrive in a Changing World

George Couros, in his book The Innovator’s Mindset, defines innovation as “a way of thinking that creates something new and better.”

Don Wettrick, in his book, Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level has created an Innovation Class in his school and he did it by being an innovator himself. He insists that his students each have a mentor to help guide them through their projects. Learning from experts outside of the classroom is a key to success.

As teachers we need to facilitate the connections between students and experts – those who share the same passions.

How might we burst the bubble and create collaborative learning opportunities between students and experts?

 

wood cutting

movie makingpaper folding

Driving the Teachers

Passion-based learning, Genius Hour (or Google ‘80/20’ time), project based learning and design thinking, all autonomous learning models, are creating a wave around the world in schools, allowing students time to decide what they explore, what they create and what they share.

If variations of this model are proven effective in developing creative thinking and innovations both in businesses and with students, what about implementing this model with our teachers?

Without worrying about the logistics of it at this moment, imagine having a day a week to explore, create and share whatever you wanted to.

In Daniel H. Pink’s book, Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, he gives examples of businesses (e.g. 3M, Google, Herman Miller, Atlassian, Best Buy, Hewlett-Packard, Yahoo!, Georgetown University Hospital) that have successfully used the autonomy over task motivational approach to work. Some of the most innovative and successful ideas have emerged from these periods of experimental learning. Examples are: Post-it notes, Gmail, Google News, Google Translate.Drive, p.95

If a school’s definition of success is the positive effect on student learning, how could we measure the ‘success’ of teacher 80/20 time?

Perhaps we wouldn’t be able to measure it immediately in student test results.

Perhaps the research projects undertaken by teachers would change a number of school programs and policies.

Perhaps teachers would read and write blogs, make something, participate in discussions and video chats, and innovative practices would be shared around the world.

Perhaps teachers would become models of intrinsic motivation and creative and clear thinking.

Perhaps, think about this one, perhaps very privileged schools have a responsibility to take a lead role in innovative educational practices to develop the post-industrialization educational model.

Perhaps, to lead the students, we must start with the teachers.

innovation is not expensive