Are You Innovating?

--Originally published at Flipped Learning

I recently had the opportunity to present at and attend the School Leaders Advancing Technology in Education Conference in Wisconsin. A high-energy, action-packed conference that brought many educators together to discuss all aspects of technology in the classroom. While some educators may grimace at the sound of technology in the classroom, this conference provided opportunities to listen, think, collaborate, and challenge the traditional way of thinking about a classroom as we know it.

Yet, the most profound impact for me came from closing keynote George Couros, author of the critically acclaimed book "Innovator's Mindset". George's charisma and presentation skills were only outdone by his passion for putting students first in each and every classroom. As the image denotes, curriculum only tells us WHAT to teach out students, not the HOW.

As I sat and listened to George for a solid hour, I couldn't help but continue to come back to this image and quote that George shared. Where have we gone wrong as an educational community that we place more emphasis on what we teach our students versus how we teach them. Yes, I know that all educators are asked to do more with less, to teach more students each day, and be held accountable to high-stakes standardized tests. However, somewhere along the way we forgot why we went into teaching - to help shape, mentor, and change the lives of students one day at a time. 

This week, I've also participated in the Ditch that Textbook virtual summit (http://ditchsummit.com/). One of the consistent messages coming out of the first five days is the need to get to know our students on a personal level. A willingness to spend time understanding who they are, what they like to do, what their strengths are, and using this information to help them navigate learning today. While technology plays a large role in their lives, it does not have to dictate each and every moment of their day at school. 


Jornea Erwin, the Savvy Educator, provided this incredible visual that can help us meet our students needs, while also making sure we stay true to our curriculum. As we get to know our students and what strengths and aspirations they hold, we can then push them to create, collaborate, critical think, and communicate their learning in ways we never thought even possible.

As I reflected over the past few weeks, I began to realize this is why I chose to use Flipped Learning. I really wanted to get to know my students, understand what their struggles were, and help them identify ways in which they could be successful. Innovation doesn't come from the technology we decide to throw at our students. Innovation doesn't come from trying something different. No, innovation comes from the willingness to cast aside doubt, fear, and history. Innovation comes from educators putting students first - knowing that HOW we teach students is often far more important than what we teach them.

As Joe Marquez says, "the greatest tool in any classroom will always be the TEACHER!"

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