Innovation Organized

I love this RSA video because it speaks to the spirit of collaboration and innovation. It speaks to how an organization or community can create environments where innovation can happen and where singular good ideas can “bump into one another” and become innovation. In his work on Professional Learning Communities found within the context of Project NeXt, Kevin Kerr talked about this type of collaboration and how important it is for individual good ideas to come together and then become bigger and better. This is where great movements or real change occurs because a loner is never going to impact change because one person can only consider so much. You need multiple perspectives and ideas to make a concept relevant and usable for a large community. In short, we NEED COLLABORATION.

So the question then is how to create such an environment in a school system that is already taxed with time restraints and in teachers that already have so many tasks as well as a union presence that resists the idea of “mandated professionalism”. That may sound harsh but it is a reality that school and board leaders have to take into consideration.

With this in mind I think that the educational community has to look at more prudently using their release time and really looking at being proactive about how they use them. We need to look first to create a situation in our schools where teachers are encouraged to expect innovation from themselves. This means giving great examples of innovation and allowing principals to support the ones on staff that show a tendency for creativity and collaboration. As a principal, I would look to support and encourage the “professional judgement” of my teachers, but mine as well. This is where the key is for me:

While teachers have professional judgement, the principal does TOO!!!!

So I would look to exercise my professional judgement to support those that are looking for ways to communicate and innovate with their peers. Release teachers to work on things that they want to instead of attending board mandated PD sessions, unless that is what they are requesting. I don’t want to disparage central PD offerings, (God knows I have organized them for the past year!), but they have to be organized so that they too look to build on the ideas and passions of the educators. If a central PD initiative can be constructed based on the input of the individuals attending and then supported by the expertise of central staff, then you have a recipe for good ideas shown in the Johnson video above. I think the TCDSB is moving this way with our proposed SSLN model, but I truly hope it takes off and gets traction in the coming years.

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2 Responses to Innovation Organized

  1. I think these ideas are right on the money. The best centralized PD sessions I’ve attended were the one that addressed areas of interest or areas in which I wanted to change or improve my teaching and my students’ learning. I’m not sure that ‘mandated’ professional development bothers me per se (There has been required PD sessions for me for my whole career), however, without engagement and need, many of those Pd sessions have been a waste of time and money. Allowing me to pursue innovative ideas that I could then share with interested colleagues is a great idea. As is the concept of PD offerings that involve choice (i.e. I could choose from a number of possible selections). Those sessions could even be hosted by teachers interesting in sharing their innovative ideas. Hope to see this movement in the future.

  2. I’ve been really lucky in the past year-ish to not only be allowed but encouraged by my principal to pursue out of board PD. I’ve gone to a TLP session at Humber college, ECOO conference, and Connect 2013. I’ve also had the privilege of hosting teachers from our board in my room and then given release time to debrief with them. Her motto is always “Go. We’ll figure it out.” Sometimes the board covers supply coverage; sometimes she gets me covered internally.

    That kind of support is a blessing. It’s also necessary for the kind of PD that you’re proposing. It’s wonderful to know that this is on the minds of our leaders. Great post Mike.

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