Innovation and #WanderlustEdu- 7/7/19

This summer, I joined the PD4uandme Bloggers. We are a group of educators who support each other as we blog about being educators and its impact on each of us. So when July started, the group introduced Blogging Bingo. Of course, I loved this idea and decided to get started right away. As I looked at the choices, I wasn't really sure where to begin- there were so many great topics. In addition, playing "Bingo" required me to think in advance and plan out all the posts I would complete to "win." Maybe everyone doesn't think like this- but I certainly do.

So as you can see, I have decided to start with Innovative Pedagogy. Recently, when I think about a establishing a culture of innovation, #WanderlustEdu comes to mind.

What is WanderlustEdu?

Before attending #ISTE19, I was listening to a podcast episode of @InspandInn or Get Inspired and Innovate hosted by Stephanie Howell and Lance Key as they interviewed Dr. Micah Shippee, the author of this incredible book. As they discussed this book and shared Micah's journey to innovation, I knew that I needed to read this book. In fact, I was so eager to read it, I had Amazon ship it to my hotel room at ISTE.

Why was I so excited about this book?

As I begin this new chapter in my career as the School Based Technology Specialist at Sangster Elementary School, the idea of being innovative and working in a culture of innovation has been in the forefront of my mind. So learning more about how to set up and foster a culture of innovation has definitely been an area that I have been very interested in.

It was such a strong interest for me that I even shared it in my interview for the position at Sangster Elementary.

So what does that have to do with this book, #WanderlustEdu?

As the book shares, I too believe that as an educator, I want to continually grow and find innovative ways to best teach my students. I want to use technology to help the students and teachers at my school to innovate.

"I will work with students to increase twenty-first century skills, but I believe that my primary role is to coach and empower teachers to use technology in innovative ways, whether through trainings, pineapple visits or embed PD. If this is what you are looking for, I am the SBTS for you."

(at my interview for Sangster ES)

But this isn't just about those one or two teachers (like me) who are ready to try new things and take risks. This is about creating a culture of innovation. A culture of innovation, much a culture of creativity, is a collaborative experience. It requires working together as a team or in PLCs to find the best solutions to educating our students.

What exactly is a PLC?

As the graphic on the right shares, it is more than just a meeting led by administration where you plan for instruction. It is a multi-faceted approach that requires everyone to be on the same page: Meeting learning goals. There is a lot of shared responsibilities: shared leadership, shared values, shared vision and shared personal practice. It is not about your students or my students, but our students. We all need to work together to set up a culture of innovation. The days of closing our doors and teaching in our classrooms and ignoring everything else are gone. We need to work as a collective unit to truly prepare our students for the future

But it's more than just having PLCs, I love this graphic that explains what schools need to have successful cultures of innovation.

Knowledge: Do you have the knowledge to be innovative?

Skills: Do you have the necessary skills?

Environment: Is the environment safe and nuturing of innovation?

Motivation: Are teachers motivated to be innovative? Is there buy-in?

It explains how when you are missing one of these, a culture of innovation will not be successful. Instead teachers will be anxious, frustrated, feel trapped or just be apathetic. This graphic made me reflect on prior schools that I have worked in and helped me to see why we were successful or not.

But even if you have all of these components in place, everyone moves at a different pace:

As a School Based Technology Specialist, I feel it is my role to be an innovator on a school based level and promote innovative practices using technology at my school that advance learning. However, in a larger educational community, I believe I fall inside of the early adopter percentage, learning and adopting ideas from my educational peers and mentors who are part of my PLN.

Depending on circumstances can affect where you fall, but the important thing to create a culture of innovation is to know where you and others fall in the continum and use it to promote innovation. Find those early adopters and let them share with those in the early majority. Get to know the characteristics of each group and make sure you address their needs and concerns to truly promote innovation.

As you can see, this book has definitely made an impact on me. Innovation and technology both share many characteristics. We can use technology to innovate and innovation can lead to new technology and advances. But in the educational context, both innovation and technology, in and of themselves, do not lead to academic success. We need to, as educators, be purposeful in how we innovate and how we use technology. We need to keep these 3 essential questions in mind as we consider new innovations and implementations of technology.

Thank you so much to Stephanie Howell and Lance Key to sharing this podcast episode on Get Inspired and Innovate with me and to Micah Shippee for not only writing this book but also taking time to sign it for me at #ISTE19.

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