Innovation To Best Practice

Innovation To Best Practice
This image is a first rendering of some ideas I am trying to bounce around in my head. I would love your feedback.


This has been something dancing around my head on the notion and process of innovation in education, and how it connects to “best practice”.  This is a space to share that learning.

In “The Innovator’s Mindset“, I define the notion of innovation as the following:

…innovation as a way of thinking that creates something new and better. Innovation can come from either “invention” (something totally new) or “iteration” (a change of something that already exists), but if it does not meet the idea of “new and better,” it is not innovative.

As I was working with a group of administrators, something stuck out to me.  Sharing a Google Doc that we could easily collaborate on, they had never seen this before, and were somewhat in a state of awe, yet to me, this was normal, or my “best practice”.  In the terms of teaching and learning, “innovation” can be a very personal practice. One’s “best practice” could be another’s “innovation”.

Discussing “The Innovator’s Mindset” in a Voxer group with educators, in what is becoming global bookclubLeigh Cassell made the comparison of this concept in literacy, which is a constant state of flux.  If literacy is ever-changing, do educators change alongside of it?  Others in the group made a unique comparison to the “decline of newspapers” and that some students are still tested on their ability to write a “news report” using the same format.  Does this “testing” include the ability to link articles, embed media, and source from different mediums (amongst other things), or is still your typical “newspaper” report?  The continuum could be from “innovation” to “best practice” to “dead practice”, if we are not trying to understand our current realities, let alone anticipate the future.

My belief is that innovation in teaching and learning starts with empathy; truly trying to understand those that you serve. Yet this is not only a starting point, but a continuous part of the process.  Once the needs of the learner are defined, innovative practices may be developed, which if they truly are “better” as per the definition, will eventually become “best practice”. For them to stay as “best practice”, they will need to be constantly revisited and reflected upon, with reflection, tweaking, and recreating as part of the process, with the possibility of eventually discarding the process altogether.  Some things could always be considered “best practice” (applicable to individuals, not necessarily as standardized solutions), but could eventually become obsolete.  This is why reflection is crucial to the process of teaching and learning.

This is not about change for the sake of change; it is about constantly understanding and questioning why we do what we do, not just taking it for granted.  Some practices in education from before I was born, could still be utilized in education if they work for learners, but we can’t simply rely on TTWWHADI (that’s the way we have always done it) as an effective answer when it comes to learners.  We must understand deeply why we do what we do to effectively serve the needs of learners.

(I am wanting to try different mediums so here is a short reflection I shared on Facebook.)

Some ideas floating in my head on “Innovation Moving To Best Practice”. Wanted to try something different.

Posted by George Couros on Sunday, February 7, 2016


  1. David Michener said:

    Well said. A question to consider for any of the areas of Innovative Practice, Best Practice and Reflect, Revise, Remix (great word) could be, “What resources have been utilized?” Being part of instructional support teams and child study groups has opened the door for me to understand the importance of sharing and considering all possible resources when developing plans to support students. I feel this collaborative sharing brings ideas to the table that often times may not work for one student, but could be used for another student down the road. Sharing and exploring this “bank” of available resources to support student achievement must be considered to help understand, “What is best for this learner?”
    Thanks for sharing!

    March 5, 2016
  2. “For them to stay as “best practice”, they will need to be constantly revisited and reflected upon, with reflection, tweaking, and recreating as part of the process, with the possibility of eventually discarding the process altogether.”

    I absolutely agree!

    I’ve participated in some research in the Netherlands where we tried to describe the process of an educational innovation. Based on existing literature we found that an innovation starts as a ‘good practice’, most of the times initiated by a change agent within a school. When other teachers start to follow this change agent and are using the good practice as well (with all kinds of reflecting, tweaking, etc.) it becomes a best practice. But when the rest of the team gets on board then we call it a shared practice, and the innovation is really implemented in a structured way. For this to happen a lot of factors are involved: the role of the change agent, the beliefs and self-efficacy of individual teachers, team-learning and feedback culture within the team, educational leadership and of course the innovation it self.

    March 16, 2016
  3. Nickie said:


    I appreciated reading your blog post and found it insightful. I think so often we realize and recognize that we need to reflect on our teaching, the successes and the challenges, but do we really take the time to reflect meaningfully? Your post has opened my eyes and my mind to the enormous importance of reflection. Thanks for sharing your post!

    May 15, 2016

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