Innovation is the lifeblood of the business world and American society as a whole. It’s what keeps the US ahead of the competition and makes business both grow and change. The problem is we don’t see it in school enough, and one of the ways we can make US schools different is to add innovation there. There are schools and models that are doing it, we just have to nurture them, duplicate them, and help them grow.
As you look at innovative practice, this definition is incredibly broad, and it is generally easy to move anything into the bucket of innovative practice even though it may not be. Just think of STEM schools. While some are doing it well, there are others who take that title because they pass every student through a STEM class not because all of their teachers are participating. When we think of these innovative life changing practices, they should be an all school movement. It should permeate what every class is doing.
There is an easy way to start here too. Just make creation the overarching theme. Can students create to show what they know? This should be the question that comes up in every class because it can drive that innovation. That creative attitude can come in different shapes and forms, but as long as it’s there you know the students are doing something different and what they are creating will often be an innovative way of publishing your standard content.
So, what can this look like? It could be in the models of PBL, cross curricular projects, or just designing great scenarios that are up to you as the teacher. It’s whatever brings creation to the classroom, and you could even mix strategies just by giving students the choice in creating items to show what they know. By including these strategies, you can also give students practice in future ready skills like coding and video production. Bringing those practices to any class is truly innovative.
From a school perspective, this can get even more creative because the idea of a standards based content does not necessarily apply. You can add innovative practices that support what teachers are doing and that whole idea of creativity, but they can be more creative ways to build students up to where you want them to go. Things like maker spaces, internships, speciality labs, and anything else that fits both the school persona and that creativity atmosphere are incredibly valuable. Almost all of them can also be funded by grants or reorienting a school to that specific purpose.
No matter what you do, the key is imagination and creativity. If you are implementing a schedule and a mindset where students have to be creative you are innovating. If you are Imagining innovative approaches for the school and strategies, you are innovating. Students deserve that innovation because it will be what prepares them best for the future, and hopefully you can give them some future ready skills along the way.