Week 5 Blog #etlead How do we maintain excellence as we innovate?

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Innovation is “the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs” (Wikipedia, 2014).  Teachers are naturally innovative.  We are always adapting to changes that come at us by the minute.  It is often difficult to deal with these changes.

I have only been in the classroom for a couple years so I find it a little more challenging to be innovative.  Beginning teachers often struggle with catering to the diverse needs of learners, managing student behaviors, and reporting to parents (Johnson et al).  As a beginning teacher, all of the stresses and struggles in other areas make it a little more difficult to be innovative.  I think that as I move along in my career and teach one grade for a couple years, I will become more innovative but for now, I feel like I just have to get by.

Dave Burgess is innovative in his lessons and many people would strive to have great lessons like his.  In his book, I found it very helpful and inspiring to read the questions that you ask yourself for each type of hook.  I would like to compile a list of these questions and keep them next to my desk so that I can read and ask myself these questions routinely.  I found inspiration just by reading and thinking about these questions.  They seem simple but how often do we ask ourselves these questions in order to be more innovative? (Burgess, 2012).

Bob Wright and his colleagues, attempt to make it a little easier to be innovative in their book.  This book outlines various fun math mini lessons and ideas for one on one.  Some of the strategies are as easy as having the students line up and count by 10s off the decade flashing dot cards and having the students recall.  The materials are all included on the disk and lessons are outlined for the teachers.  This is one of my favorite math books to use as a supplement (Wright et al, 2012).

Overall, I find innovation necessary but often times difficult to do while attempting to maintain excellence.  Teachers have a lot to juggle in order to be “excellent” and time is always an issue because there is never enough of it.  I think that as I move forward in my career, it will become easier to become more of an innovative teacher.

Burgess, Dave. Teach like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity,

and Transform Your Life as an Educator. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess

Consulting, 2012. Print.

“Innovation.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Feb. 2014. Web. 13 Feb. 2014.

Johnson, Bruce, Barry Down, Rosie Le Cornu, Judy Peters, Anna Sullivan, Jane Pearce,

and Janet Hunter. “Conditions That Support Early Career Teacher Resilience.”

(n.d.): n. pag. Web. 14 Feb. 2014. <http://www.ectr.edu.au&gt;.

Wright, Robert J., David Ellemor-Collins, and Pamela D. Tabor. Developing Number

Knowledge: Assessment, Teaching & Intervention with 7-11 Year Olds. Los

Angeles: Sage Publications, 2012. Print.

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5 responses »

  1. Megan, you are right. New teachers struggle some with being innovative. A couple of reasons: 1) they don’t have the experience to know what works and what doesn’t
    2) like you said, struggling with diverse learners and figuring out time for innovation
    3) not sure what they are allowed to do and introduce in the classroom
    4) afraid of making mistakes and fail at different innovative ideas

    But, new teachers have vision. They are excited about teaching and haven’t been “jaded” by all the politics and burdens of teaching. They have high energy and look at teaching as being an opportunity to invest in young lives. I love to hire young, new teachers because they bring energy and new ideas into the classroom. They are also more “tech savvy” than the older folks like me and are anxious to teach other teachers how technology can be used in the classroom. So, even with the fears of bringing new and innovative ideas into the classroom, they bring so many awesome things to their new school.

    I agree that innovation is necessary for the success of any classroom and that it is difficult to find the time to be innovative and be excellent. Curriculum must be covered, excellence must never be compromised, and finding the time to include really awesome innovative projects is a real challenge. I guess, the solution I use to be innovative and still be excellent is to remember that innovation never means that you have to do spends days and days on this really incredible and expensive project. Sometimes it means short and simple “different”. For example, I teach AP English for seniors. We read some really challenging books in this class. Many times I will take the class period and read to them. I tell them not to take notes, but to just listen. They beg me to read to them (I guess the goofy “voices” I use helps). Not a ton of innovation, but it is different and they are able to comprehend better because they are not fighting new vocabulary, etc. So, at least in high school, we are able to get through the material, I still expect excellence from them, but they get to enjoy a change of pace in the classroom…just some thoughts.

    • Thank you for your post Gary. I agree that new teachers are excited and ready to try new things. And using the voices in your class when you read is being innovative. After reading Teach Like a Pirate, I realized how simple changes can make a huge difference in student engagement and excitement in school and voice changing is a great example of that.

    • Hello,
      I completely agree with you on your thoughts about managing innovation. I know my first year, I tried to be completely innovative. Because during my college years, I never dreamed of being a dull boring teacher. However, I found myself overwhelmed and living at school trying to be innovative. I believe my students would claim that I was innovative, if they knew what the term innovative was. Later, I realized this was an easy way to burn out because I was overwhelmed with trying to manage the basics of teaching while being innovative.

      It is fantastic that you can recognize this and not do too much. I love you drive to be a balanced teacher. Great work!!!!

  2. Hi Megan,

    I like that you mentioned keeping Burgess’s questions beside your desk as a reminder of the type of teacher you want to be. I think it would be a nice exercise to ask and answer these questions at the beginning and end of each year and see how you have grown with another year of teaching experience.

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