How do you foster technological innovation?

In the past month, I enjoyed both the Harrow Fair and the Western Fair in London.  One of the things that you’ll find at any good fair is the midway filled with fair food, the newest in farm equipment, and of course, those games.  You know them – Whack a Mole, throwing darts at balloons, shooting big basketballs into little hoops, the fish pond, and more.  All of these stops are intriguing even though I know that the games are next to impossible.  (at least for me…)

The games aren’t impossible though.  You see all kinds of people stepping up and laying their money down for a chance to win that big stuffed animal.

Why?

If you watch carefully, when the booths are empty, the counter workers play the games and do so successfully.  Is it boredom?  Nah!  It’s part of their job!  In addition to showing how it’s done, they’re talking the talk.  It doesn’t take too long before they convince everyone within eye and ear sight that they can do it too – even if they’ve never done it before.  They even change the rules a bit to give everyone a chance.  That little guy that hangs around with us is a perfect example.  (and he went 4 for 5 too and won a duck)

fair

I wasn’t allowed the stand on the counter though…

Shouldn’t the rules of the midway apply in education?

The rest of this post is directed at those who would be leaders and supporters of change.  What are you doing to support those who would like to try things in their classrooms?  Are you supportive?  Are you leading?

I think everyone would like to think that their school system is right on the leading edge.  This includes reaching out to teachers and students who would like to use the latest in technology but know that there will be a bit of a learning curve, with some stumbling blocks.  Is that OK with you?  Are you showing the way by example?

If the use of Web 2.0 tools is important to you and your school, are you using them?  Or do you create a memo in your office tool, convert it to PDF so that it can’t be changed and then email it to staff members individually?

Do you collaborate for staff meetings or initiatives like you’d like to see collaboration happen in the classrooms?  How about the easiest and perhaps one of the most powerful tools – the blog?

If blogging is important to happen, are you blogging yourself?  It’s quite one thing to sit back and issue an edict that you want blogging to happen in the school, but quite another to be supportive.

Here are some ideas to be supportive

  • write your own blog – you’re probably doing a newsletter anyway;
  • comment on each and every classroom blog – time well spent – advertise class blogs through your own;
  • be a guest blogger on a classroom blog – help the cause with some of your insights to a classroom topic;
  • let the class interview you on a topic and have them post the interview;
  • take your smartphone for a walk and do a scavenger hunt of the school and have the students explore and discover;
  • take your smartphone and show images of the monthly theme – let the kids share their thoughts;
  • do a show and tell, bring and brag, at the next parents’ group meeting;
  • create and share a webquest via blog post – you’re passionate about something;
  • go through that filing cabinet and turn your great lessons into lessons to be shared with others;
  • you were a teacher before – what can you pay back to the profession?

We talk about the need for kids to be “Google-able”.  What about you?  If the only results are your name on the front page of a school or district or perhaps embedded in a copy of the minutes of a meeting, it’s time that you up your game.

With a bit of effort, you can push the innovation process along.  Today it’s blogging; tomorrow – ?

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