One of my colleagues and twitter mentors, George Couros (@gcouros) once asked a group of our teachers, "Could you really spend an entire day as a student in your classroom?" I think questions like this really help us reflect on the intentions of our practice as educators. As a teacher, there were days when I was bored with my own lessons by the end of the day. I cannot imagine how my students felt. What are we doing to combat student boredom in our classes- and better yet, how are we fostering an innovative mindset with our teachers?
I am fortunate to spend time evaluating teachers at our school. It helps connect me to kids and affords me the opportunity to watch amazing teachers inspire our students. All our team members collectively look for the highlights of the Danielson model including student engagement, a strong culture for learning, and creative classroom discussion. While these areas provide great insight into the strengths of the classroom teacher, they don't necessarily include an important element of all 21st century classrooms: innovation.
Can we make room on our evaluation models for innovation?
Innovation doesn't necessarily mean engagement. And great teachers could certainly make a case that engagement doesn't always require innovation.
Yet, innovative teachers are the driving force behind new curriculum changes. These teachers are the risk takers who present their ideas at conferences and lead others in their departments. Moreover, discovery and creation inspires kids- and an inspired student can accomplish anything.
The process of becoming an innovative educator exposes students to underlying skills beyond the context of curriculum or content. Ultimately, innovating involves failure- an important life and career lesson for many of us. Innovation also involves patience. There will be frustrating moments in the journey.
I give credit to all those that try.
A lesson that is well intentioned, managed and assessed plays well with any evaluation model. But a lesson that takes a chance on something innovative and inspiring speaks to the greater intent of the designer, and it's in that intention that we find the true purpose of our instruction...
"Could you spend an entire day as a student in your classroom?"