A couple of years ago I wrote a post about my top 10 ideas for an innovative school, its been the most viewed post. Although it’s not definitive, it’s helpful to have a guide that can shape strategy. This time I’ve added a few challenges.
Revisiting the ideas, and updating for 2014:
1. A vision for learning is incessantly and clearly communicated
- What is your vision? Make sure you know where you are going.
- Find ingenious and relentless ways to communicate it.
Who are the keepers of the vision?How do you empower the carriers of the vision?
2. Learning is future-focused
- Shape the learning context for change
- Observe the students, see how they work and communicate
How can you have less fixed and more flexible features?
What is happening in the world of work that can directly relate to school?
3. Culture takes time and persistence to embed
- Once you have the vision – prioritise your steps. Change will take time and strategy
- If you believe it, be resolute. Help those who are struggling to change, but stick to your guns.
Do you have a shared language?
What are the non-negotiables of culture?
4. Engaged and motivated students are the goal
- Put current practices through the ‘learning’ filter – do they still belong?
- Think about your own conditions for productivity and creativity, maybe it’s same for students
What strategies will make learning relevant and authentic?
What practices disengage and de-motivate students?
- Vision + ‘Learning’ Filter = Regular PD to support through change
- We can’t change the way teachers teach until we change the way teachers learn
How much teacher-talk is OK?
What is the baseline expectation for IT proficiency?
6. Technology is an environment for learning, not the driver
- This is not about who has the most bright shiny toys
- Students live in a world of technology – the school-world needs be relevant
Is technology almost invisible?
Are you embracing the opportunities that the cloud opens?
7. Relationships matter
- In the midst of all the learning, technology and activity nothing matters more than quality relationships
- Students need to belong, be known, valued and accepted. This is only achieved through relationship
What activities deliberately get your teachers working (and playing) together?
Is relational learning seen to be important in your culture?
- Set in a real-world context, skills will be learnt readily when there is purpose
- Provide opportunities for students to be world-changers
Are your teachers passionate and infectious about their subject matter?
Does school feel like the real world or school-world?
- This is not about bright shiny spaces and colourful furniture, it is about aesthetically pleasing environments where students (and teachers) will want to come to learn
- Not all spaces (AKA classrooms) or furniture need to look the same
Have you visited a workplace that shows new ways of work?
Have you looked beyond the school furniture catalogue?
- There will always be barriers to innovation, find ways to break or go around them.
- Make this your culture, give it voice, take risks, embrace failure
What’s blocking innovation in your school?
What’s your next step?