Innovation?

So this week I want to talk briefly about the idea of innovation in education, and what that idea really means to us as a school and as a faculty. Innovation is a word that we use quite often around here, and it has been the focus of many of our leadership discussions over the past several months. We purposely embedded the word ‘Innovation” into our new mission statement, in order for us to frame all of our thinking around this idea, and now we’re looking critically into ways that we can live up to this promise…if I’m being honest though, it’s not that easy. There is a huge difference between “keeping up” with the best schools in the world, and being truly innovative…there’s also a difference between being innovative within your own community (when you look through the lens of how things have been done in the past in your own individual school) and being truly innovative on a much larger, macro scale, and leading the way for education in your region or around the world. True educational innovation takes courage, visionary leadership, the right foundation with regards to school community and culture, and the timing has to be right. It’s a scary thing to break free from the traditional model of schools, and in many ways taking the leap is just too daunting, too difficult, and too terrifying for many organizations.

 

Innovation is defined as a new idea, device, or process…not just a new way of doing an already existing thing. That’s where many ideas that are touted as innovative miss the mark…initiatives that are just dressed up differently with a new polish and shine. To be truly innovative as a school is tough…and scary…and traditionally uncommon in the world of education, but I feel as though things are starting to change. Many courageous schools around the world are starting to really push the boundaries, and break down the walls of the traditional school model in ways that will change the landscape of education forever…and it’s exciting. This coming week we’re sending 15 educators to Brazil to attend the Innovate 2015 conference at Graded in Sao Paolo, and it will be an incredible opportunity for all of us to hear some of these boundary pushing ideas, as well as to showcase a few of our own. I’ll be facilitating a panel discussion on Friday night which is titled, A Blue Sky Vision of Education, where three of the best Heads of School in the world (Lee Fertig, Barry Dequanne, and Madeleine Heide) will be talking about what true innovation in education looks like, where the future of schools is headed, and what are our first and next steps. Some of the questions that we’ll be discussing are listed below, and while you read them I’m asking you to take the time to think about these from your own personal perspective. What does Innovation look like for you…in your classroom…with your students…and for you as a professional. I’ll write again in a week or two as a follow up to this post, and I’ll share out some of my learning…some of the progressive ideas…and how we can all help to lead this inspiring and innovative charge. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be innovative with our students and good to each other.

 

  1. What is your idea of a Blue Sky vision of school…no restraints with regards to resources, money, facilities, staffing and all the rest…what would that look like? Dream big!
  2. What is your take on the common statement, “the universities of the world are holding us back. They handcuff us at the grade school level and prohibit us from being truly creative and innovate because we are bound by their entrance requirements and processes”
  3. What does the future of assessment look like?
  4. What about spacing, facilities, and grade level bands? Are there innovative opportunities there for us to consider?
  5. How does service learning and inclusion fit into this vision of the future?
  6. What are the first things that you would change if you had a magic wand? What is it about traditional schools that drive you crazy?
  7. What role does Technology play in your vision of the future of education?
  8. What about the structure of leadership? Supervision and evaluation? Culture and community? All framed around a new approach to schools for the future.
  9. How does personalized learning fit into an innovative approach to school…how does it differ from differentiation?
  10. What are our realistic first steps as International schools to truly lead the way with innovation?

Quote of the Week….

Instead of a national curriculum for education, what is really needed is an  individual curriculum for every child

-Charles Handy

Innovation in Education Websites and Articles –

http://houstonaplus.org/examples-innovative-school-models

http://www.piemedia.org/

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/education/school-leaders/create-innovative-schools/default.aspx#fbid=zqy7HGj-XII

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/innovation-significant-positive-change-beth-holland

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/definition-innovation-education-examples-bob-lenz

About Daniel Kerr

Dan Kerr is now Lower School Director at the American School of Paris. He previously served as Intermediate Division Principal at Academia Cotopaxi American International School in Quito, Ecuador, and prior to that was the Middle School Principal at SCIS in Shanghai, China. Dan has also worked at JIS in Jakarta, Indonesia and he began his International career in Abu Dhabi. Dan is thrilled to be joining the ASP family and will be accompanied by his wife, Jocelyn, who will be working as a counselor, and his two children, Max and Gabby. 
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3 Responses to Innovation?

  1. Hi Dan,
    When you asked “What are the first things that you would change if you had a magic wand? What is it about traditional schools that drive you crazy?” at the Innovate 2025 conference, I answered that we do not educate the Whole person, we do not value Wellness. I just saw this quote and felt it sums up my sentiment completely.

    “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” -John Lennon

  2. Brian says:

    Very insightful consideration into innovation as a concept– thought-provoking read.

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