In the past few months, I’ve learned a great deal about what it means to be “innovative”. It starts with observation and identifying a need that a person sees within his/her organization. Next, it involves brainstorming ways to best meet this need and selecting the method that will have the greatest impact. After that, it’s time to research. One must review current research relevant to the idea to support the planning process, as well as identify potential areas of consideration. This will provide the support one needs when constructing the outline for implementation.
The most difficult step in innovation is garnering support for one’s ideas. It is important to for others to understand the need for this change; not only in their heads, but in their hearts. The understanding of the “why” for the project is what will determine it’s success within an organization. One way that a person can achieve this is through the use of a promotional video. Videos have the power to open powerful lines of communication. They not only allow the “why” to be understood by the stakeholders intimiately involved with the change, but they also help others outside the organization to understand and form a connection to the plan, improving the likelihood of success.
In my course on Disruptive Education this summer, I had a chance to experience the innovation process first hand. I started by envisioning what education would look like in my new role as a STEAM teacher in the coming year. I knew students would benefit from experiencing choice, ownership, voice, and authentic learning through a station-rotation blended learning model in my classroom. However, I saw a need for them to have the opportunity to experience this type of personalized learning and design thinking in their other classrooms, too. This led me to form the idea of having a space where students would have the technology and resources to construct their own meaning and understanding of the world, as well as solve problems that surround them every day. I proposed the creation of an “Innovation Station” at National Park Elementary School.
After I formulated this plan, it was time to review the research. This led me to construct a Literature Review on Makerspaces in Elementary Schools. The review highlights the blended learning approach, the aspects of collaboration involved in creating such a space, and the considerations to plan for when looking to construct a makerspace within a school. It also describes the role of technology in the makerspace.
After reviewing the research, I was able to construct an outline for implementation. This outline will be my guide over the next eighteen months as I attempt to enact this change in my district. This outline in not a fixed document; rather, it is a fluid, living work in progress. I anticipate that there will be many additional steps that need to be added, as well as many changes made to the original plan. I expect to post updates with each step of the process, so please be sure to check back often!
Armed with the clear understanding of my “why”, my research, and my plan for implementation, I am very excited to present this plan to my administrators and fellow teachers this fall. To help communicate the need for an “Innovation Station” in a way that will make a lasting impact, I plan to show this video. It is my hope that it will open the hearts and minds of everyone involved and get them excited about the often intimidating process of starting something new.
While my ideas are definitely beginning to take shape, there is still much room for growth and improvement on the path to becoming an Innovative Educator. Innovation is a journey, not a destination. Over the coming months, I plan to review the resources below to continue to build my knowledge of blended learning, makerspaces, innovation, and leadership.
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Patterson, Grenney, McMillan, Switzler
Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
Makerspaces in School by Lacey Brejcha
Worlds of Making by Laura Fleming
Invent to Learn by Martinez & Stager
Tinkering: Kids Learn by Making Stuff by Curt Gabrielson
The Blended Learning Blueprint by Jaime Linton
Blended Learning in Action by Tucker, Wycoff, and Green
With the right amount of desire, hard-work, and dedication, I know that possibilities are endless. I look forward to collaborating with all of the educational stakeholders in my school to see National Park’s “Innovation Station” come to life.
For my information about my plan for change, please click on the link below.