For week six of the SAVMP program, we were asked to consider “Roads to Innovation.”
One of the questions to consider is: How do you go about creating innovative practices in your schools?
I use a two prong approach to fostering innovation at my school.
Prong one is to share ideas and resources with the staff. In each week’s Monday Memo, I share links to interesting sounding tech tips. I sometimes demonstrate a new tool or teaching strategy during staff meetings. Last year, I tried my hand at teaching a class using only new ideas (not particularly successful, but that happens with attempts at innovation). At District PD days, I usually introduce some cool thing that I have been learning about. This first prong is all about sharing information or spreading seeds.
The second prong is where the real action is, sort of. The second prong is to get out of the way. Really, just step aside. Let the teachers do their thing. When a teacher comes to me with a new idea, I listen and offer support. I ask questions when the idea is half-baked. I try to be clear with the teachers that I am asking in order to help them. For some teachers, I say little other than, “Why not?” I often ask the teacher what they want me to do to help. Often, the answer is that they want nothing other than permission. I almost always say yes to a new idea, to an experiment. I am not risk averse. This second prong for creating innovative practice requires that I trust my teachers to be professionals – no problem there.
So, this two-prong approach is not fast, but when it works, change happens – teachers innovate.
I wrote about similar ideas for Leadership Day 2012.
Cross-posted from Principal’s Point of View.