Innovation Does Not Happen in Isolation

In “The Innovator’s Mindset,” I share the following eight characteristics:

What is important to understand regarding these characteristics is that none of them make you innovative in isolation.  It is their combinations that lead to new and better solutions.  If I am “observant” and understand the world around me, yet “create” nothing, what would be solved? Flip it though; if I am “creating” without understanding the context of where I work and who I serve (observant), you might be creating solutions to things that is helpful to no one.

This thinking was sparked by a post I recently read that was written by Mrs. Krolicki, talking about the importance of reflection leading to action:

Reflection is an important component of quality teaching. As preservice teachers, we are trained to think deeply about our emerging and improving practice, all with the expectation that the emphasis on that act will not only become habit, but also will serve as a continuous springboard for growth and change; the intention is not simply to think about it, but also to act on it.

Really, reflection should be ReflAction — reflection + action.

That seems simple enough: think about it and then make a change based on your observations and data. As a preservice and first year teacher, I felt pretty confident in my ability to do that. My mentors told me it was clear I was thinking about my choices and then adjusting based on what I thought was needed. Often, they felt my adjustments helped student learning.

The “reflection” leading to “action” idea seems obvious, but far too often, we talk in circles in educations, and organizations outside.  Saying things like, “Let me think on that” become stall-tactics when there is no follow up or lead to action.

As I was talking to a group of new teachers, I told them straight out that they should be so much better at the beginning of their careers than I was at the beginning of mine.  The reason for this is that they have access to so many teachers doing the same job that they are doing. Who better to learn from as a grade two teacher than another grade two teacher, whether they are in your building or on the other side of the world.

But the reality is that there are still too many teachers that are not taking advantage of those “networks.” The notion that young teachers are innovative and more experienced teachers are not, is unbelievably false.  I have seen some new teachers as the most “traditional”, and some veteran teachers as the most innovative.  The difference is the mindset, not skill set. The craving to get better

This is not to say that some traditional practices do not work with students. It is just that no traditional practice works with all students.  Never has and never will.

To be “networked” does not make you innovative.  It is what you apply from learning from those networks that creates the innovation.

The opportunities in front of us only matter if we take advantage of them.

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