I feel so lucky to be part of a school district that embraces innovation and continuously sends the message that education can be messy and that we have to give ourselves permission to fail.
I spent the afternoon at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the McVey Innovative Learning Center. As I sat outside in front of a building that only one year ago was the Central Office building for our school district, I realized that over the past year I have witnessed innovation in the making. I watched the building transform from office space and cubicles to an unbelievable building where students take classes like Mandarin Chinese via Skype, business students share their products with authentic audiences, rock band classes record music in a real studio, participants can take virtual fitness classes on demand and much more! To think that only a few years ago this ILC was only an idea, gives me hope that even the biggest ideas can be made into reality when the right people work together.
Hilliard City Schools, however, is quick to acknowledge that innovation does not and will not only take place in the ILC. The ILC is to be an incubator for ideas that should expand out into all of our schools. Now THIS leads me to begin to think about how I can embrace the ILC philosophy and in doing so can help teachers embrace the philosophy, as well.
In their book The Connected Educator, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter Hall write that "schools have habitually prepared students for life by making them dependent on others to teach them, rather than placing power over learning into the learner's hands." They go on to challenge educators to "prepare students for their futures, not ours."
My challenge for myself and the challenge that I hope all educators will embrace is to find ways to empower students to be in charge of their learning. To do this Nussbaum-Beach and Hall (2012) explain that we as educators have a lot to unlearn. They state that we must unlearn that:
1. learning only occurs at school and is limited by space and time
2. learning is individual
3. we have to be experts in our classrooms
4. leading is only for those with titles
Here's what I am working on unlearning and relearning:
1. I'm unlearning that professional development needs to take place during traditional staff meetings and relearning how to provide and participate in quality, authentic professional development.
2. I'm unlearning that we as educators need to steer clear of social media and relearning how to use social media as professional development, as a way to tell our story and as a way to connect students to authentic learning experiences.
3. I'm relearning about collaboration and rethinking what collaboration REALLY means.
4. I'm unlearning that the quality of a school is defined by tests scores and relearning that the quality of a school is defined by the experiences that occur within and outside of it.
Who do you want to be as an educator? What do you need to unlearn and relearn?
Thank you Hilliard City Schools Innovative Learning Center and The Connected Educator for inspiring me to think big, unlearn, relearn and grow.
Nussbaum-Beach, S. and Ritter Hall, L. (2012). The Connected Educator: Learning and
Leading in a Digital Age. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
I hope my blog posts inspire risk taking and new ways of thinking. I hope to connect with other educators on our journey to always do what's best for children.