‘Innovation’ is an interesting word to me; not just because I’m ‘innovation lead’ at Aureus School, but because I think it is a word which (in education) seems to carry many preconceived images. If I say to you “Oh they’re an innovative teacher”, all too often the perception seems to be of a teacher who’s at home using the latest technology, whose classroom is awash with the latest teaching trends, and who leads CPD on “how to use your interactive whiteboard more effectively”.
This article on innovation covers none of that! I’m not dismissing edtech nor the associated innovations therein, but I am going to talk about the innovator's mindset.
The innovator's mindset is the true way every teacher can innovate in any setting! As I see it, said mindset comprises of four component parts:
If you can adopt the innovator’s mindset (and truly anyone can) you can make this academic year, and in fact every academic year, one in which you innovate in a meaningful way!
This is about you the teacher, the subject specialist, and the pedagogical perfectionist. Take a moment or two to review your last academic year or even the last few. I suggest reviewing on two fronts:
Your subject. The content you’ve taught, the way it was received, and the impact it had. Make note of what went well, and what you think you could improve.
Your pedagogy. Review the way you taught your subject. Did you deliver content in a variety of ways? Did you adapt work for learners who were struggling? How good was your differentiation? Did you really stretch and challenge all your students? As part of this review, take to the internet and the educational bookstores, choose something on which you’d like to read up and refresh your knowledge. For example, spend an hour or so reading up on stretch and challenge ideas, and make some notes on things you could try to freshen up content you deliver in the new term.
Teach. Get into your class and teach your stuff using the ideas you have read about. Adapt your technique based on both what worked last year and what could have been done better. Invite others into your class to watch you! Ask others if you can observe them teaching too.
This time, don’t wait til the end of the academic year to review what is working in your class and what can be refined. My suggestion to support your most innovative year is that you make time in the first weekend of every half term break to pause and review what is going well, what can be done better, and choose a topic to brush up on. Look again at your subject and your pedagogy. Think about what you did in your classroom, what discussions you had with those who have observed you and what you’ve seen in others.
If you read up on stretch and challenge six weeks ago, then choose questioning this time and spend an hour reading up on ideas to better question in your classroom. Use these to develop new strategies that will help you deliver your content in the next term.
Get back into your classroom with refined focus, content ready to be taught using techniques you have reviewed yourself and with colleagues, and perspective on your pedagogy you’ve refreshed.
It really is as easy as those four steps to keep your mindset innovative throughout an academic year!
...and 5! Sharing what you do to keep you on the innovative path
One extra tip to keep yourself innovating: Share! Sharing what you are doing with others is a great way to keep your mindset innovative! Consider creating your own blog, or even a shared blog with colleagues who agree to share your innovator's mindset this year. At the end of each half term, take it in turns to post about your term, what has gone well, what you’re considering changing, and what areas of your pedagogy you are reading up on. Innovation does not happen inside a bubble. Real innovation happens when you look outside yourself, your organisation, and even your sector to draw in inspiration for afar. To do this well you have to be sharing what you do.
Want to receive cutting-edge insights from leading educators each week? Sign up to our Community Update and be part of the action!
With the new academic year upon us, we wanted to introduce you to Manor Farm Community Junior School and their major successes with professional development, self-evaluation and improvement planning. Here, headteacher Andrew Sierant shares how the school eliminated the need for paper, raised the profile of professional development, and found an efficient new way to manage teacher and staff appraisals…
Do your school’s processes ensure that the right type of CPD is being provided to the right people at the right time? And crucially, is the impact measured? Countless studies tell us that carefully-designed, insightful staff CPD can help raise standards and pupil attainment, as well as positively contributing to staff retention and recruitment, welfare, happiness and morale. However, research (Goodall, Day et al, 2005) suggests that many providers don’t have sufficient evaluation processes in place.
One of the defining characteristics of successful schools is how they deliver assessment. How effective a school is at assessment goes a long way to determining how they are perceived by parents and other stakeholders. Assessment is mission-critical in the constant drive for “school improvement”, a buzz-phrase has now become a key strategy outcome for school leaders.
Most schools use formative assessment throughout the year, and then have some sort of test at the end as practice for SATs. This data-handling may be done via a commercial system, a tracking system they have created in-house, or through one of the paper-based approaches that many schools are still using. It doesn’t matter which method you choose, but it does matter how the data is being used.
On Friday 15th June, the ultimate teacher-workload reduction initiative will commence. Kicking off at Wigan’s DW Stadium, the Lead LIVE roadshow will look to significantly reduce teacher workload in schools across the country… and tickets are free-of-charge. Scroll down for the 5 Ws: why, who, what, when, and where...
This is my favourite question from friend, FELTAG collaborator and member of the Ministerial Education Technology Action Group (ETAG), Professor Diana Laurillard from UCL. It is always a useful starting point for any conversation or decision about the use of technology for teaching, learning or assessment.
In an ever-changing and turbulent climate of expectations in education, the demands on educators is at a premium; a premium which is quickly becoming unsustainable. Many teachers, who are good at and passionate about their jobs, feel unable to cope with the changes and demands being placed upon them. Many schools have tried to introduce various initiatives to address teacher wellbeing, such as wellbeing-centric days, meditation activities, away days, and so on. Each of these initiatives, even with the best intentions, have no real-long term impact, and that is why the key to teacher wellbeing rests with middle leaders.
The African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” expresses the universal truth that the responsibility for child-rearing rests with the broader community and not just the parents. Yet within many schools, this adage is neglected. Parents are perceived as being prone to unhelpful interventions, previous generations of students are abandoned, and local businesses are ignored.
A community-driven platform for showcasing the latest innovations and voices in schools