This past April, I signed up for the Innovative Teaching Academy. Prior to the course, I thought of myself as an innovative educator, looking for new ideas and trying them out in my classroom. Some worked, some didn’t.
George Couros’s criteria for innovation is ‘new and better.’ Being new isn’t good enough; it has to be better. Most importantly, it has to create a better learning experience for students. I am pretty sure I expected the instructors of this course to provide all of these amazing new and better tools and resources that I could use to reshape my classroom. Instead, I learned that an innovative educator really only requires three things, and none of them include technology.
- An open-minded approach to teaching; a willingness to consider new idea
- A supportive network of educators to help work through the challenges that arise
- A willingness to reflect on and question our own teaching
Since starting the course in April, I have accomplished each of these goals, many of which were not even goals prior to taking the course.
- Read more – both educational reading and books for entertainment
- Written more – 31 published blog posts and over 26,000 words
- Developed a supportive PLN of teachers far and near that I can count on for support and wisdom whenever it is needed (2000 views of my blog and a core group of twitter friends that I know I can ask for help)
- Moderated my first twitter chat
- Have a better, more consistent morning routine, including exercise (after years of waking up as late as possible before having to get ready for work)
- Shifted from classroom teaching into administration
- Developed a plan to launch the use of social media in our lower school
While my desire for change and improvement has stayed the same, my energy and methods in which I am achieving these goals feels more effective than ever before. I feel more connected to other educators. I feel more confident in my ability to turn an idea into a success. I also know I will make mistakes along the way. Those mistakes might have forced me to abandon them in the past, or given me pause on the next new idea. I now have confidence that those around me will help me work through the challenges and use the mistakes as opportunities to grow.