Saturday, June 9, 2012

Saying "YES" to Foster Innovation

When I think about some the exciting, relevant and engaging "learning initiatives" that have occurred at our school over the past several years, I think about the incredibly talented people (teachers, students and parents) who have made them possible.

When it comes to using technology to enhance learning, I think about teachers who see the potential of technology to make learning more engaging for students.

From my perspective, as principal, it's been about creating a safe place for teachers to "play" with technology in the classroom.

It's been about saying "yes" more than "no" to the early adopters within our community.

I still remember the day when one of our teachers - @maricelignacio - came to see me about having her students use their phones in class to access Twitter as a tool for engagement in the English classroom.  Our policy, at the time, banned cell phones in class.  (The fact that we had a robust wifi network to handle this request is thanks to @pholowka1)

I said "yes" to this request.  I understood that with that "yes", I agreed to take on some important responsibilities.  As principal I had to explain my decision and defend the teacher from concerned stakeholders.

As the principal, I feel that if I want to encourage and create  a culture of innovation, I need to create a safe place for teachers.  It requires the creation a safe "playground" for teachers to "play".  It requires giving them time, resources and access to a vibrant learning network.

Mistakes will be made and lessons will be learned.  It is during these challenging times that I need to stand behind my "yes".

My "yes" cannot be conditional.  Supporting teachers, as innovators, even when things don't go as planned, goes a long way towards creating the conditions for innovation in schools.

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