With or Without You: I Can Innovate

Though #IMMOOC season 4, sadly, is coming to an end, the challenge thrown out by this year’s authors, George Couros, Katie Martin, AJ Juliani, and John Spencer remain. We’ve delved into the books, discussed ideas through blogs and chats, and we’ve listened to the guests on the live events. The ball has been tossed into our courts, so what now?

See the Stone Set in Your Eyes

It is often easy for me to look at others who are still doing the same thing that they were doing five, ten, twenty years ago in the classroom, and sit in judgement. Sure, we all know the routine: read the chapter then answer the questions at the end, do the worksheet. However, this was likely an innovative practice at one point. The problem is, once we become innovative, we run the risk of setting that “new” practice, lesson, or activity in stone, and that then closes us off to real innovation: recreating, reinvigorating, and re-purposing our content and delivery to meet the ever changing needs of today’s students.

See the Thorn Twist in Your Side

Too often we become attached to how we do things in our classrooms, buildings, and schools that we totally miss the fact that innovation is no longer present. We tell ourselves that it is. Look! See! I let students come up with an amazing writing activity 5 years ago! It’s great! And suddenly the blinders are on so that we miss the fact that the current crop of students are not as engaged or are not empowered or learning with this activity.  Innovation stagnates in an environment that is not constantly looking to make all things better, more powerful, and more meaningful for the current students in the room.

I Wait for You

So now what? Reflect on your practices. Go back to your why. Are you demanding a lot of memorization for the sake of memorization or is the “why” much deeper and will get students farther along in taking ownership of their learning? Do you entrench yourself in the textbook and refuse to open the world to your students? Are your classroom walls flat or upright and rigid, not allowing student voices to carry beyond? Have you broadened your own PLN (Professional Learning Network) and engaged in your own PD so that you can continue to learn and grow, helping your students along the way? Are we giving them our best selves?

With or Without You

To embrace innovation and student empowerment, we truly need to “break up” with many of the traditional practices and thinking that we’ve carried throughout our educational careers. We are preparing students for things that haven’t even evolved yet, so our thinking cannot be a cement mixer, pouring out foundations of our teaching that harden as they cure. No. We need fluid thinking. The future is changing, with our without you. Let go of the memorabilia you’ve saved from your relationship with outdated practices. Keep whatever still has researched proven effectiveness and burn the rest so that you can move on, move forward. Your students deserve nothing less.

Partial song lyrics from U2’s With or Without You.

4 thoughts on “With or Without You: I Can Innovate

  1. My favorite part, Laura: “Let go of the memorabilia you’ve saved from your relationship with outdated practices. Keep whatever still has researched proven effectiveness and burn the rest so that you can move on, move forward.” I have moved schools and rooms a few times, and those are the best times to rethink what you’ve got and what you need to let go. Purging is sweet. It makes you re-evaluate what you’re doing and what is best for kids. This needs to happen fairly often – more often than being moved out of a room (as I know teachers who have been in the same room their entire career – WAY to long to go w/o rethinking). Spring cleaning each year? Better yet – how about after each unit? Thanks for the reminder! Just because a MOOC or a book study is over, does not mean we stop. It means we keep beginning – keep evaluating – keep tweaking… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true! Letting go IS hard! My garage can attest to this! The, “but what if I need that someday” mindset can turn us into educational hoarders.


  2. Don’t allow “But what if I need that someday?” become a block to the needed space for innovation to occur today. Besides, you’ll probably come up with something even better if you encounter the need, but with a new twist. Why? Because you’ll have experience behind you.

    Think about it….

    Liked by 1 person

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