Saturday, 2 April 2016

What does innovation look like in your school?

This is a response to a post on the network.

Innovation in schools of any type needs to start with the idea that the goal is not to force kids to abandontheir passions and interests for our curriculum.
blue orange defines innovation as:
  1. Something new or different introduced
  2. The act of innovating; introduction of new things or methods.
There is so much innovation going on in our schools. Leaders and teachers are coming up with new ideas, and new ways of doing things all the time. But what innovation looks like to one school could be completely different for another as each school has different goals and philosophies.
George Couros states in Innovation and best practice, that his “belief is that innovation in teaching and learning starts with empathy; truly trying to understand those that you serve.” He expands on this to say that it’s “not only a starting point, but a continuous part of the process”.
As with all things in schools, we need to ensure that student learning is foremost on our mind. This includes in how we innovate. Will Richardson made this very clear when he says,
To put it simply, innovation in schools today is far too focused on improving teaching, not amplifying learning.

I have been asked to develop a response,

What does innovation look like to you?
This has been something of a journey for me in my years of teaching. I suppose being in the technology learning area with what is now digital technologies innovation has been at the centre of my thinking.

Adaption and Innovation are at the heart of the technological practice. The course planning and ideas I have looked at what new technologies I could include in my development. However, there has been other things that I have looked at about what innovation is, that has been around course structure and assessment.

The other has been I have been lucky to be in departments that looked at changes within education. Moving away from unit standards to offer achievement standards. This has allowed a better understanding and access to the professional learning that was available at the time. Something which is now lacking for teachers that did not move at the time.

Project based learning has been a big part of my courses and changing assessment from to new contexts such as developing historical websites for heritage places, pokemon trading cards and nzta crash analysis mapping. These have allowed students to have a meaningful context to showcase their learning. Students have also been able to develop their own projects which have allowed for a spelling game to be created for younger students, an information website about parkour teams as examples. Also looking at competitions to allow meaning contexts for learning and assessment, brightsparks, codeworx and kiwibots vex as examples. Rather than just being an extra thing.

Then there is innovation within teaching, the use of Learning Management Systems to help students rewind learning as well as develop tangents for learning. The use of the LMS has been a big part of the change of my teaching, it allowed for better feedback around a students work. Then came the online apps changes, this has allowed commenting within students work, and better feedback -feedforward. 

Working with other departments to help make learning and assessment easier to manage. Developing systems to assist to help the learner show evidence, as well as for the teacher so assessment is not so onerous. 

To me its being agile within my teaching, working with other teachers, not just in your school, but also in other schools. Developing partnerships. It is through these partnerships where you challenge the current thinking that you get to work with industry and dare I say the Ministry of Education. 

What does innovation in your school look like?
Innovation at HPSS, this is part of our schools motto, Innovate. Engage. Inspire.
These are also the goals that our appraisal is around.

This year you will be constructing three personal professional learning goals based around our principles:

Innovate through personalising learning
Personalising learning by meeting the needs of diverse learners e.g.
  • Differentiation
  • Universal Design for Learning
  • Self directed learning
  • Blended learning
  • Culturally Responsive Pedagogy
Engage through powerful partnerships
Evidence of powerful partnerships being developed e.g.
  • Strong teacher and student and whanau learning relationships
  • Appropriate and responsive co or team teaching strategies
  • Opportunities to connect with their wider community
  • Critical friendship - observation and feedback
  • Open to learning conversations
  • Restorative Practice (being a warm and demanding hub coach)
Inspire through deep challenge and inquiry
Evidence of students being inspired through deep challenge and inquiry e.g.
  • Students being supported, challenged and extended in their learning
  • Use of SOLO
  • Use of Learning Design Model / Inquiry Learning
  • Learning area expertise / literacy and numeracy across curriculum

Personalising learning
Personalising learning is a strategy focusing all of the schools resources to ensure that the potential of each learner is realised by ensuring that the learning experience is appropriate to them personally and that they are able, with support, to decide what they learn, how they learn, when they learn and who they learn it with. 

Personalising Learning is about strengthening the link between teaching and learning engagement. 

Personalising learning recognises that the quality of learning is shaped by learners’ experiences, characteristics, interests and aspirations. High quality teaching explicitly builds on learner needs – as well as on high expectations and good subject knowledge. 

Personalised Learning puts children and their needs first. The distinctive feature of the pedagogy of Personalising learning is the way that it expects all pupils to reach or exceed expectations, feel fulfilled and achieve success. 

Personalised Learning maximises personal potential. We personalise learning so that...
  • Everyone get the chance to be the best they can
  • Everyone gets the chance to have high quality teaching that is responsive to their needs 
  • Everyone gets the chance to have an educational path that takes into account their needs, interests and aspirations 
  • Everyone’s integrity, dignity and validity is respected 
  • Everyone thinks about and presents their knowledge in different ways 
Personalised learners… 
  • Are engaged with learning and the life of the school 
  • Take responsibility for his or her own learning and behaviour 
  • Show independence in, and having control over, learning
  • Enjoy confidence in oneself as a learner 
  • Display maturity in all relationships, marked by mutual respect.
Are the innovations in your school amplifying learning? If so - how?
This is from our Principal, Maurie, A case in point is when we were settling on our innovative approach to NCEA which is largely to skip NCEA L1 and set our students on a 2 year journey to a quality NCEA L2. Having our 14-15 year olds ploughing through 120+ credits towards NCEA L1 did not allow us to ensure our students were inspired by deep challenge and inquiry as it promoted surface coverage to get through so many credits. Because it could not pass through this filter our moral purpose required us to think differently.

I have a Qualification SPIN, which is two 80 minute blocks a week, through this I am covering design through digital media. The students have been working on web development and image manipulation. Normally I would run this for 6 weeks and then assessment. As I am only focussing on one achievement standard, I can delve into it deeply, I am not rushing through, I am allowing students time to develop and create portfolio's of evidence, rather than a single shot assessment. This is allowing students to learn from failure, be creative in their designs and application of the tools and techniques. Which in terms of the learning allows for quality work to be produced. One of the students is a priority learner, it also means that I am working on personalising his learning, which is allowing him to develop a digital media and print media outcome. It is working towards his needs, still along the school theme for term one around identity, rather than the school identity, it is his own identity.

How is digital technology supporting innovation in your school?
I am going with the ideas of the Core Education 2013 trend of ubiquitous,

Social media
always on, always connected
mobile technologies
cloud computing
online services
UFB access

Learning works best in the right context and the right time. Ubiquity helps learning be right there.

We have bring your own device, this allows for the learner and the teacher to use different activities to allow for different learning needs. Rather than one activity for all learners. It allows for the personalisation and differentiation in learning.
We also have the platform, no, not the same computer for event student, but hobsonline, this allows for a one place for students to goto to access their learning needs. 

Where do the tensions/challenges lie if any?
For me, its the challenge from the traditional, I know its hard to explain, but one of my titles at a previous school was ICT Innovator, I was always looking at what is happening next, having that future focus look. The challenge was from the people that are not. 

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