Recently, I began an online course from AJ Juliani called the Innovative Teaching Academy. Several of my posts in the near future will be inspired, or as a result of questions posed in the course. This week's question for the participants in the course is, What does Innovation Mean to You?
Innovation is a mindset. It is grown and developed when we engage in the pursuit for new and better: new products, new uses for old products, new ideas, new ways of thinking. Most people do not possess innate abilities for creativity and innovation. Instead, they are skills that can be developed. As with other skills intentional practice at them leads to overall improvement. As a track coach, I have witnessed countless times how improving running/jumping/throwing mechanics through drill and repetition have lead to better performances. As a social studies teacher, I have witnessed countless times how having students practice good study habits has led to better test scores and grades (Don't get me wrong. I do not get hung up on test scores). The key here is that the practice is intentional. The same thing is true with innovation. Students, and ourselves, can grow in our capacity for innovation if we work at the skills of innovation. George Couros outlines many of these skills in his 8 Characteristics of the Innovator's Mindset: empathetic, problem-finders, risk takers, networked, observant, creators, resilient, and reflective. This is why I think most of us found our way to #ita17. We have a desire to grow in these areas for ourselves, but even more so, we desire something that is new and better for our students.