Contributed by Lyn Sharratt and Gale Harild
In a world with ever-evolving technologies and new applications, it is becoming necessary for organizations to think innovatively to ensure their continued competitiveness and success. Education is no different – except that students, teachers and systems are the focus of success. How do educators meet the needs of all students and teachers in an ever-changing landscape?
In our new book Good to Great to Innovate, we make it very clear that there are key components in moving all students, teachers and leaders to achieve success for all. Here are just four of our BIG Ideas:
- Student Voice and Choice.
- All students can learn. This mantra is proven to be true when students have a voice and choice in their learning. Students’ voices need to be heard more often than teachers’ voices in every classroom. When students are given choices in the what and how of learning they become confident in their own abilities to “try” new learning and thus improve. As educators, we have to be mindful that the instructional and programming choices offered are inclusive of all post-secondary destinations. In other words, students need to see a place for themselves in the learning, a place that is aligned with their self-knowledge learning journey reflected through their interests, aptitudes, abilities and goals. To us, that is identifying and honoring students’ DNA. An added benefit in giving students voice and choice, is that teachers learn from students’ guided explorations.
- Skilled Teachers
- Offering students multiple Pathways to success is the operating norm of a highly successful teacher. Skilled teachers who use curriculum expectations to embrace big ideas, essential questions, and a collaborative inquiry approach to teaching and learning together successfully empower students to ask and answer their own and each other’s questions and own their own learning. The skilled teacher masterfully weaves collaborative inquiry with project-based/experiential learning opportunities, adding richness and authenticity to the task at hand. Through focused intentionality they create thinking spaces fueled by creativity, problem-solving and entrepreneurship.
- Innovation Leaders
- Innovation is about being willing to lead where no one has gone before, to take calculated risks informed by research, and to try alternative approaches to achieving student success when no one else believes there is a problem that requires a solution. Innovation leaders take time to gather the best evidence from the field and use that as a starting point to set their course. While systems set the stage for innovation, it is within the culture of the individual school and classroom that innovation will either flourish or flounder. Innovation leaders take time to build trust across their organization, community and schools in order to open up an innovation mind-set in teachers and students. Without innovation leadership, organizations such as schools are likely to struggle to be relevant to their students and to retain them until they graduate as Literate Graduates.
- Community partners
- Developing strong community contacts EARLY and OFTEN is a key determinant in being an innovation leader. This requires strong interpersonal skills, the ability to share and question, a deep understanding of the complexity of student growth and achievement data, and a keen and honest interest in the changing local economic and employment conditions. It demands that we ACTIVELY STEP into another’s’ world to find the common ground that will chart the course towards every student becoming The Literate Graduate. The latter makes a broad-base of community partners a must in order for students’ education to be relevant and reflect the needs of an ever-changing and yet unknown future from an employer’s perspective.
In each of these four BIG ideas, being collaborative may be the key factor or condition that enables students, teachers, leaders and community partners to develop a broader sense of “what is possible” from the perspective of multiple collaborators. This learning experience in turn then permits every student to be confident enough to feel she or he can change the world. Only then do we move from Good to Great to Innovate and the future with courage and confidence.
www.goodtogreattoinnovate.com @LynSharratt @Gale Harild #g2g2i
Lyn Sharratt is an experienced practitioner in system and school improvement working globally at all educational levels. She is also a professor at OISE/University of Toronto where she lectures and currently coordinates the 26-student Learning and Leadership EdD program.
Gale Harild is an educational practitioner, Pathway consultant, and co-author, with Lyn Sharratt, of just published Good to Great to Innovate: Recalculating the Route to Career Readiness, K-12+. She is currently an instructional leader for York University.