I originally posted “5 Critical Questions for the Innovative Educator” in September of 2014. Here are the original five questions that I still think are crucial:
Would I want to be a learner in my own classroom?
What is best for this student?
What is this student’s passion?
What are some ways that we can create a true learning community?
How did this work for our students?
As I have learned a lot in the past few years on this topic, here are some other questions that I think are crucial to innovation in education:
- How can we be innovative given the constraints that we have to work within? The best way to deal constraints is to first identify that they are there. Yes, you have to teach a curriculum. Yes, you will be limited in money. No, the walls in your building will not be shifted. Identify the constraints and then think how you can work within them. The curriculum can be brought to life and what you teach can go way beyond what static documents will tell you. When you are thinking of constraints, I always use the Vine example. A lot of people looked at the video service Vine and they asked, “What could you possibly do with 6 seconds?” where others said, “You should see what I can do with 6 seconds.” Same constraint, different thinking.
- Is this better than what we have had before? As you evaluate what you are doing in class, it is essential to identify whether this is actually better than what has been done before. If not, it is not innovation, it is simply change for the sake of change. Has your thinking created something that is creating better learning and opportunities for those you serve? What measures are you using to identify this (please go beyond test scores)? We can’t really identify if it was innovative or not unless we identify if it is better than what we are doing before.
- How do we share this with others? Now if what you are doing is better than what you had before (see question 2), shouldn’t others know about it? Not just in your own school, but around the world. The power of sharing is that it not only benefits the students, but it benefits the “sharer.” If I know that anyone in the world can see my stuff, it makes me think a lot deeper about what I am sharing. Make great learning go viral.
Innovation always starts with questions, not answers. Do these questions lead you to move forward, or fall behind?
What are your questions in the pursuit of innovation in education?