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FORUM: What does innovation look like in your school? | An Enabling e-Learning event

Started by Nathaniel Louwrens 16 Mar 2016 9:24am () Replies (81)

Innovation in schools of any type needs to start with the idea that the goal is not to force kids to abandon their passions and interests for our curriculum.

- Will Richardson, Stop innovating in schools. Please.

blue orange Dictionary.com defines innovation as:

  1. Something new or different introduced

  2. The act of innovating; introduction of new things or methods.

There is so much innovation going on in our schools. Leaders and teachers are coming up with new ideas, and new ways of doing things all the time. But what innovation looks like to one school could be completely different for another as each school has different goals and philosophies.

George Couros states in Innovation and best practice, that his “belief is that innovation in teaching and learning starts with empathy; truly trying to understand those that you serve.” He expands on this to say that it’s “not only a starting point, but a continuous part of the process”.

As with all things in schools, we need to ensure that student learning is foremost on our mind. This includes in how we innovate. Will Richardson made this very clear when he says,

To put it simply, innovation in schools today is far too focused on improving teaching, not amplifying learning.


Join the discussion

  • What does innovation look like to you?

  • What does innovation in your school look like?

  • Are the innovations in your school amplifying learning? If so - how?

  • How is digital technology supporting innovation in your school?

  • Where do the tensions/challenges lie if any?


Image source: Thom Lunasea - Flickr CC BY-2.0



  • Natasha Furness (View all users posts) 04 Jul 2016 6:18pm ()

    Hi everyone, I have really enjoyed reading all the interesting thoughts and ideas. Kathryn thank you for sharing the above clip. I have used this many times this year with staff, board of trustees and families; such a great clip!

    What does innovation in my school look like? 

    This year we have invested time and resources into thinking about the skills our students need to thrive in their future. This really started last year. I was very lucky to be part of an initiative within our cluster of schools called Akoranga o Naenae (http://aonteachers.blogspot.co.nz/. As part of this, I worked alongside 2 other teachers, with students from across our cluster, not in a school but a setting within the community. The focus was on developing learning dispositions that allowed students to drive their own learning. The context through which these dispositions were developed was chosen by the students. There were many positive things that came out of this project and I can honestly say it was the best professional learning experience I have ever had. There were two things which stood out clearly from our evaluations, which I had not anticipated would come out so strongly. One of the things was the fact that it was based within the community and not in a school; parents came along and spent time learning alongside their children who hadn't done so within the school setting. The other thing was the degree to which the students valued the connections they had formed with students from other schools. An interesting insight into what we as educators show we value through what we say and do; and what is important to those who the education system is supposed to benefit. 

    Within my own school this year we have started to look more carefully at these dispositions; what they are, what they look like in action, what they mean to our students and our families. We are thinking if this is what we truly value and believe will give our students the skills they need to thrive and to make a positive impact on their world, how is that reflected in our assessment? By assessment I'm meaning any information we as teachers gather about our students and that students gather about themselves. Most likely anecdotal, observational, narrative, rather than checklist/tick boxes which surely minimise these dispositions in a way that discounts their complexity and interconnectedness. We have taken an approach whereby we are trying to involve all partners in learning every step of the way, giving lots of different avenues for involvement. We are consciously seeking to value the process, rather than rush to a finish line. This has meant lots of going backwards and forwards, making changes, being adaptive and rethinking what we originally thought. At times it feels that this approach is time consuming and that change is slow but at the same time the depth of thinking from families and students, seen in their discussions around learning, is hopefully indicative of their engagement. It feels like the views of families and students have been central to shaping this vision, rather than a situation where we have made the decisions and we are now checking them out because that's what we should do. It has been really exciting to be part of this process and to see the different perspectives that have been provided by involving students and families in this way. 

    Where do the challenges lie? 

    I have been dipping in and out of the text #EdJourney by Grant Lichtman, which I really recommend. In talking about innovation Grant talks about our most precious resource 'time'. He says that 'two areas which teachers constantly told me they wish they had more time, or more flexibility in time, were the organisation of class time and time for adults to meet, collaborate, and learn.' This part of Grant's book really got me thinking. How do we go about organising time in a way that allows for collaborative reflection to occur in a meaningful way? Grant asks 'how can a school team turn time from a limitation into a powerful tool?' I'm really interested to hear your thoughts on this?

    Thank you, 



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e-Learning: Leadership

e-Learning: Leadership

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