I am an admitted NASAphile. I have loved all things NASA for a very long time, and I even had a dream to go to Space Camp when I was younger. That dream was fulfilled twice as an adult when I was able to attend Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy and Advanced Space Camp once I became a science teacher. NASA, and space, in general was fueled by my love of science and technology. NASA has been and will probably always be on the cutting edge of innovation, and I think that has a lot to do with my fascination.
As teachers, we are asked to be innovators. To survive in the world of 21st Century education, we need to be at the pinnacle of current understanding of teaching and learning. We need to engage our students. We need to understand technology, at least in some form or at least know the technology our students are in to. We need to be able to monitor and then adjust at the drop of the hat. We need to be masters of our learning environment. We need to manage our classrooms with grace and efficiency. And we need to all of this, and more, in an ever-changing educational landscape.
I was inspired today by a post on Edutopia, called, “What You Need to be an Innovative Educator.” It was about, as you can guess, innovation in teaching. The surprising part of the article is that it was not about being the best with technology or the latest education trends. It was more about you, as a teacher, than about what you do. I highly recommend that you read the post on Edutopia, but I am going to use what it says to give us a quick little pep talk. I need it right now as I am getting bogged down in some detailed planning of big ideas for next year.
You Have What It Takes to Innovate
It is not about the latest and the greatest things…technology and strategies. That is not what your students need. It is not about the resources you may or may not have, it isn’t even internet or worksheets. Innovation is about you, Teacher.
It is about who you are and not so much what you do. It is what is in your heart and mind, and your heart and mind have what it takes to innovate.
You know how to prioritize and find what is important. You know it is more than the whats and the hows, it is about the process of figuring those out. You are a human strainer that lets standards and indicators pass through, leaving only the enduring understandings. You know how do do this, and it is in you, Teacher.
You also know that to teach well you have to be selfless. No one had to tell you that this is bigger than you are. You know that it is okay to ask for help and you always know when and how. You are even brave enough to sometimes even consider to allow students in on your planning.
You know that time and energy are more important than money and permission. Stuff is nice, but if you give things enough time you know that you can plan around the stuff. Energy is hard to come by, but you know you need to give it and somehow you always find it. Time and energy are the key and you always give these freely.
You are a teacher, and you have heard since the beginning that teachers beg, steal, or borrow. You are not too proud or afraid to beg, steal, or borrow. Sometimes you reinvent wheels, but this is few and far between. You look to models to work from and put your own fingerprints on.
You are more than willing to stick your neck out for your students. If you know that something could work beautifully but there is a chance it will blow up in your face, you take the chance for the sake of your students. You can always backtrack, but if your plan works out you may help your students leap ahead. You are willing to take the leap of faith to things you know will be best and you are not afraid.
Most of all your students trust you, and you trust your students. They will follow you where you lead them, especially if they think you are leading them where they need to go. You trust that what you think will work WILL, in fact, work and that your students can make it happen. Trust goes both ways, and you have confidence in this trust with your students.
Innovation is hard, even harder without stuff, but it isn’t really about stuff. The stuff will change. How we are asked to teach will change. Innovative teachers work within these changes, whatever they may be, and you have what it takes to be one of these innovative teachers.
So get out there an innovate!
I have no doubt that you are one of these innovative teachers! You are awesome! You work with in the medium you are given. You strive to be the best you can be. So get out there and be that “the best.” You have what it takes so go out and be innovate! You are amazing! Keep dreaming, innovating, and teaching, Teacher!