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Innovation in Education: Where is the Balance?

George Couros said it best:

“Innovation is not about the “Stuff”, but about a way of thinking.”

Education is caught up in technological gadgets that will somehow increase academic rigor and student achievement. There is little to no evidence that technology alone will increase student success. Many tech companies involved in education will rave about their products ability and promises that their product will change your classrooms and raise student achievement levels for all.

What is missing from education in the technological age is the human element. Teachers are not replaceable and students still need attention from the adults in the room. A technology tool in the classroom is just that- a tool. The tool is not the end goal. The tool is the guide which helps students to meet the end goals set by the teacher. Vawn Himmelsbach said it best, “Technology is not meant to replace the teacher. Rather, the idea is to create a flexible learning environment that breeds innovation. It shifts the classroom experience from ‘sage-on-a-stage’ approach to a more collaborative learning environment” (Himmelsbach, 2011).

The best technology available will not support and improve academic performance unless technology is utilized in a way that creates a drive for change, makes a difference, raises awareness, changes minds, and starts conversations. The idea is that innovation is more about the thinking involved and less about the tool that is used. This is not to say that technology does not have it’s place, because it definitely does in the 21st century classrooms, however as Couros, 2015 said, “Technology is a tool, not a learning outcome.”

The balance in innovation in education comes when we change the perception of what education is and is not. Why does education exist? Education exists to improve the lives of the students we teach. Education does not exist to pass a particular test. Dr. Joe Martin says, “No teacher has ever had a former student return to say a standardized test changed his or her life” (J.Martin, 2007, as cited in Couros, 2015). Today’s organizations are looking for skilled critical thinkers, people that can create and solve problems-to create something new out of something old. When we look at why we exist as an education system, create new spaces to reflect current and future outcomes, and lead students to a growth mindset equipped with skills to create and problem solve, we then will have a balanced approach to innovation in education.

Please share your thoughts!

Hit share below and let’s grow together.

#Eduonfire # innovatorsmindset #DisrupttheStatusQuo

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Why Differentiate Instruction?

Why differentiate instruction was a question asked of me in my administration course work.  There are many reasons to differentiate instruction. I have located 10 specific reasons why you should differentiate to ensure all of your students are receiving support at their level.

 

  1. People learn best when they use what they already know to construct new meaning
  2. A safe and secure learning environment promotes student growth
  3. People learn best when they acquire and use strategies
  4. Promoting social interaction
  5. People learn best when what they learn is appropriate to their developmental level
  6. Student background and culture
  7. Matching learning style leads to improved learning
  8. People learn best when they learn in their own way, have control and feel in control
  9. People learn best when what they learn is personally meaningful
  10. People learn best when what they learn is challenging and they learn to accept the challenge.
Educational Impact. Top 10 Reasons to Differentiate Instruction. Retrieved from  https://www.educationalimpact.com/programs/programs/activity/guideDI_02b_02/

I would add to this list also that the reason for differentiating is to better deliver lessons to reach all students in class as well as utilizing a variety of instructional strategies to best meet the needs of all students.

What is interesting about this particular list is that so many aspects of project based learning is infused throughout all 10 reasons to differentiate for students. Students need to feel empowered by having choice. Students demonstrate higher order thinking and score better when the task or project is meaningful to them. Students need social interaction, meaning they need to get up, move around, and talk! All of these are in line with the 8 elements of project based learning.

So if this is the case, why are schools and districts not incorporating project based learning as a strategy to boost test scores and decrease dropout rates and suspensions?

Next post, I’ll begin breaking down assumptions regarding PBL and possible reasons why certain districts are not including PBL as a viable option to combat low math scores among other alarming statistics.

Until next time,

Scott

 

Embracing Change: A Personal Story

Education: A Never-Ending Sea of Change

In school, change is a given.  Whether we are talking about curriculum, approach to student learning, involuntary or voluntary transfers, or even resignations.  Charles Darwin said it best when he said,

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives,  nor the most intelligent that survives.  It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”    -Charles Darwin

Education is full of changes, both controllable and uncontrollable.  You have two options when it comes to change.  You can become cynical and resentful, and it will impact your work and the students you teach, not to mention your health.  Or you can embrace change, find the silver lining, and become an:

Original on White

I have been working for a school district for going on 10 years now.  I have worked as a tutor, teacher, teacher in charge, and recently an instructional math coach.  The area has given me some opportunities to advance professionally for which I am grateful.  I have also met in the community many colleagues that have been influential in molding me to what kind of educator and leader I am today.  I have exhausted all that I want to do within this district and feel the need to impact kids somewhere different, somewhere new, with more support and opportunities for advancement in leadership.

Leadership in education is not an easy task and comes with many responsibilities; however, I have felt that nudge/ tap on the shoulder, from colleagues, but more importantly from God.  I believe I can and will be an exceptional leader that values and invests in people, supports staff, and increases achievement through data-driven, research-proven methods.

With support from colleagues and family, my future brings me to the great state of Tennessee.  I have accepted a position and can’t wait to impact the Chattanooga community, families, and students!  I am very excited about infusing project-based learning as one of the many instructional strategies to get kids moving and excited.  I am also happy to share my expertise in the area of data-driven professional learning communities to impact change.

Going back to change.

One of the most challenging aspects with a significant change like this is finding a home, making new friends, a new school for my girls, as well as a new church.  Although it would be easy to become anxious and overwhelmed, I must and will remember this:

As Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Embracing change opens doors to new possibilities and new friendships.  I have had the opportunity to meet and get to know new fellow colleagues and administrators within the Chattanooga area.

Life is a journey, and the bends in the road are not the end of the road unless you refuse to take the turn.  Embrace change and growth will be much more enjoyable.  Whether there are little changes to your life or significant changes like mine, we all can choose how we will react to it.  We may not be able to control change, but we can control how we adapt to it.

I look forward to writing about my continued journey in education.  Remember to be positive, value all relationships.   Be the person that lifts others up around you.

I will leave you with this picture:

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