What does it mean to be an Innovative Educator?

This week is the final week in my course on Disruptive Innovation. Our final week centers around the question “Are you really an Innovator?” This was the question I asked myself as I read the article and watched the video. At the end of my reading/viewing, I noticed one underlying theme:¬†communication.

Being a true innovator is not only about creating a learning environment that is rich with COVA, but about being able to take the work of the students and communicating/connecting it to the real world. It is not enough to simply have your students engage in authentic learning; it needs to also make it’s mark in everyday life. Additionally, planning and inspiring change will not work without constant conversation. The team that is pushing for significant change needs to be clear and consistent in both methods and reasoning, and they must provide daily reminders of this change to truly make it work.

Where am I in the process of becoming an innovator? Well, after viewing the chart, I would say that I’m the dividing line between the two categories. This past year, my classroom projects were about 50% innovative. There were definitely still projects that I had students create and kept for grades or became entries for ePortfolios, but some of my student work did impact our school and our town. My students created a plan to publicize our recycling program, designed new recycling containers that would remind students of items to be recycled, and then distributed them to each classroom. They also created and competed in a “Second Chance” Art competition. Students were inspired by a story we in class to use trash to create new projects with new purposes. They made a proposal to the principal and the town council/Green Committee, and then made a video introducing the project to the classes in the school. The Green Committee judged all entries to the art competition, and then the winning artists were awarded certificates and prizes at a town council meeting. The artwork was then displayed around town as part of a town-wide “local artist” exhibition. One of my students even created her Halloween costume for next year- a Superhero costume. She built an entire superhero costume out of the Capri sun pouches and boxes. With my change in role next year, I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where Innovation will be a daily goal. One of the parts of my STEAM job that I’m most looking forward to is developing stronger communication between school and the real-world. I will be managing our school Twitter account, as well as helping classrooms to create Twitter accounts. It is my hope that opening this line of communication with our community will help garner support for educational initiatives outside the for walls of the classrooms, as well as form strong bonds with local “experts” to help our students connect their work to real-world applications.

While the journey is not going to be an easy one, I truly feel as though this program is setting me on the right path to becoming the type of Innovative educator I aspire to be.

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