“Innovation has an inherent distaste for best practices because it is about new solutions, not copying existing solutions.” Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant
Two years ago, I wrote a post as I attended the 2011 Canadian Association of School Administrators entitled, “This is not optional anymore”. In the post, I was quite concerned about what I was seeing many “leaders” model at the conference in the use of technology to improve learning through the effective use of technology and how they were pushing this notion forward:
Our educational administrators however really need to get going on this. Leaders right? If teachers in your school or division see that you are not moving forward with some conviction in this area, why would they believe that there is any sense of urgency? Why would teachers think this is important if our administrators aren’t modelling effective use? The teachers that are moving forward need you to understand this area and support them. They don’t need you to be at the same level, but they at least need to know you trust them and will put the systems in place for them and more importantly, their students, to be successful. Take some risks and model both in success and failure that you are a learner; this is what we expect from our students.
Now attending the same conference two years later, I was dismayed at the opening speaker really focusing on how we shouldn’t jump in and almost making technology seem like a fad. Maybe I have taken this the wrong way, but I felt he was saying that helping teachers use technology effectively is a lot of work and maybe we shouldn’t really put that much effort into the endeavour.
Not an inspiring way to start a conference where the focus is technology on improving learning.
In the talk, there was discussion of really sticking with “best practices” but when do we focus on “next practices”? We are asking our teachers to help our students to be creative and innovative but doing this in a way that promoted neither for their own practice. How can we teach something to our kids that we are not allowed to experience ourselves? I am not saying that we ignore “best practices”, but we also have to look at how we move our organizations forward before we become the “Blockbuster” of public institutions.
As I walked out of the keynote, I thought I was going to hear conversations such as “you can be an effective teacher without technology” from participants. I didn’t. I actually heard a lot of the same frustration that I had, while also seeing a huge commitment to moving schools forward to not only align with our world, but to really try to start leading it.
I laughed a bit when the hashtag shared for the conference was the longest conference hashtag I have ever seen Then I realized, they are using a hashtag for the conference this time and are trying and wanting to move forward. Administrators are really starting to get that this shift in our world needs to be mirrored in our schools. I am seeing that more “technology” conferences such as ISTE are not just filled with “techies”, but with classroom teachers and administrators. More conferences that focus on leadership and learning have technology embedded into the workshops and keynotes. Educators know this is important and are forging ahead.
While many continue to focus solely on the past to create the future, many educators are looking to create the future with their students. They are not accepting “what was” but are looking to create “what can be”.
“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” William Pollard
Many are saying no to the “status quo” and I feel a lot better about where we are today from where we were two years ago.
If you are wanting to read some great books on what schools could look like, I highly recommend “Why School” from Will Richardson (the best 2 dollars you will ever spend) and “World Class Learners” from Yong Zhao.