Change is hard. Change, when we don’t drive it ourselves, can make us feel like we haven’t been doing something right or our work isn’t good enough. That’s not what it’s meant to be.
“Change is an opportunity to do something amazing” (Couros 3). It’s the process of bettering ourselves, of improving, growing and always learning. To change as educators is to embrace the premise that our world is continually evolving and our students will need to be prepared to walk into a world that is different than yesterday and especially different than the world we walked into at their age. To change is to innovate our instruction to meet today’s students where they are and not where we once were.
Change, for the sake of change, is not innovation. It’s just something different. Merely using technology is not innovation, either. “Technology can be crucial in the development of innovative organizations, but innovation is less about tools like computers, tablets, social media, and the Internet, and more about how we use those things” (Couros 20). It’s the why that gives us vision and inspires us (Sinek); it’s that how that puts our vision into action.
We have an amazing opportunity to change the learning experiences of our students on a daily basis. For that change to be innovative, we need to keep the learner at the center and ask what is best for this learner and what is best for his or her future. “Any time teachers think differently about who they teach and how they teach, they can create better learning opportunities” (Couros 21).
“The role of the teacher is to inspire learning and develop skills and mindsets of learners. A teacher, designer and facilitator, should continually evolve with resources, experiences, and the support of a community.” (Martin) Keep the dialog open. Ask questions. Collaborate. Take a risk. Reflect. Re-evaluate. Share. You have a community. Take advantage of those resources. Take the opportunity to do something amazing.
- Couros, George. “What Innovation Is and Isn’t.” The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity, Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc., 2015.
- Martin, Katie. “Creating a Culture of Innovation Versus Transformation, “ katiemartin.com, June 10, 2015, https://katielmartin.com/2015/06/10/creating-a-culture-of-innovation-vs-a-transformation.
- Sinek, Simon. “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” TED Talk video, 18:04, September 2009, https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action .
Take a risk. That’s a difficult charge. Sometimes it sounds like we aren’t doing a good enough job. Sometimes we wonder why tried-and-true means aren’t good enough. It takes risk to move forward and continue learning. It takes risk to amend or even outright change a lesson, a target, an essential question, or a practice. If we expect our students to continually learn in order to improve, then we must also follow that parallel path and strive to continually improve our own practice (Wennergren 134). The 1:1 environment sets the stage for change in the classroom; the tried-and-true doesn’t always mesh with our current learning environment or the world our students face every day. “This age of exponential change leaves us no choice – we must change or our students will fall behind.” (Tormala). “We will need to consider how to best harness exponential change in order to create equitable outcomes for all learners.” (Swanson)
Taking a risk is hard. Change is difficult. The Law of Diffusion of Innovation says that in order to change, we must take risks, learn from successes and failures, grow with the mindset of continuous improvement, and innovate by finding new ways to solve the challenges we face (Tormala). It’s OK not to know what resources and tools are out there and how they work. We’re learning. The good news is that you have support: department or team learning leaders, instructional coaches, your Teacher-Librarian, your Digital Learning Coach. Additionally, the online world is full of learning communities ready to support and share ideas, too. Edutopia and Twitter chats are just two of the many online resources full of ideas, resources and support for educators.
Reach out. Ask Questions. Collaborate. Co-teach. Take one step at a time. You aren’t alone on this road.
Yes, you read that correctly. Teaching to the 20th Century is the intended title. It refers to the fear that some educators have of teaching towards what is to come. Our students have to live in a world that has yet to be defined or really formed: the world is changing and developing so rapidly that we don’t know what they will need to be able to do and how they will be accomplishing these unknown tasks. We are so accustomed to directly teaching what is already known at them. The idea that we need to guide them into a yet undefined world is frightening. It’s a step away from what is known and secure into a place where outcomes may not be predictable.
This video, Shift Happens, on Karl Fisch’s blog illustrates this changing world in a simple and to-the-point manner. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. If you have, watch it again and examine what you are doing in your classroom.