I think often when we talk about “innovation” in schools, there is a tendency to accompany that with new devices, or developing new spaces.
The dictionary defines innovation as;
I believe innovation to be a mindset, not a title, nor something that occurs in a special space.
It’s how we disrupt our actions and methods to always seek something better. It may be in the routines we have created or the rules we maintain. It may be in the content we teach or the way we teach it.
It may be hard to conceive of innovation without some form of digital technology participating, but innovation is definitely not limited in this way.
I believe it’s about the willingness to explore and challenge ideas, to take on the status quo and to implement change. To test and try and to respond to the results.
Not everything will succeed nor will all change be sustainable, thus there is inherent risk involved. Whenever there is risk, we need to ensure there is trust. I believe this is the biggest challenge in developing cultures of innovation, they must be cultures of trust first and foremost.
Understanding —> Shared Vision —> Trust —> Innovation
What do you think?
For some articles and perspectives on innovative mindsets check out these links:
Integrity means that you are the same in public as you are in private. – Joyce Meyer
For me integrity is a principle I hold paramount. It is trait I admire and respect in others. In a school setting it means that regardless of who walks through your room, be it a peer, a parent or the principal your behaviour and the way you teach remains the same. It’s acting and following through on promises, and letting your actions speak for you. It is not expecting others to behave or act any differently than you expect of yourself.
It also means that you speak and treat people with respect regardless of their prestige or title. I find it extremely pernicious when people dismiss the ideas or beliefs of others based on their perceived worth or usefulness.
Modelling integrity for our students, expecting that they treat themselves and others with respect and be reliable and trustworthy will support the development of a community of responsible citizens.
“Your reputation and integrity are everything. Follow through on what you say you’re going to do. Your credibility can only be built over time, and it is built from the history of your words and actions.”
— Maria Razumich-Zec
“People will always move toward anyone who increases them and away from others who devalue them.”
– John Maxwell
I think the key to building trust with students, families and staff for me is to ensure they feel valued.
I work hard to build trust with my students. Many have plenty of reasons not to trust; some come from trauma backgrounds and some come from very unsuccessful school experiences and never had anyone believe in their ability to succeed. I endeavour to build trust by listening first and foremost. I listen to what they have to say, what their parents/families/carers have to say and I try to take the history from their previous school as useful, but not the complete story.
I retweeted the tweet below from @supportmeandyou to my staff. Sometimes it’s hard to reassure myself and my colleagues not to take the behaviour personally. That can be hard when a student with ASD is having a melt down and calling you every name under the sun, or when a child of trauma is hating you because you showed another student attention.
The kids who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways
— Support Me & You (@supportmeandyou) August 31, 2013
It is the trust we build, so these kids can feel comfortable in their skin, to break down barriers and be ready to learn so they are no longer anxious about being judged, ignored or unsuccessful, and ultimately because they feel valued.
I work hard to build relationships and trust with families. I do this through continual communication and fostering a message that their child is at the centre of everything we do. I endeavour to provide lots of opportunities to celebrate student learning and include families in “real time” by utilising text messaging (including photos), our class blog, phone calls and emails and requesting feedback both formally and informally. At times I have had to reflect on whether my openness with parents is sustainable as there have been occasions when they have relied on me more than is perhaps ideal, but I will continue to regulate this balance.
With staff that I “manage”, I endeavour to build trust by never asking them to do anything I am not willing to do myself. This includes; simple errands, curriculum development, planning, behaviour management and student personal care (which generally falls upon support staff). I hope that by doing all the tasks I ask of teachers and support staff, I show them how much they are valued and that I never take them for granted.
I also hope to build trust by doing what I say, not just talking about it. This is a challenge as a new leader because in the past I have tended to take on too much and not allow my staff to be responsible for anything, and I mean ANYTHING! I KNOW that my role is to help build skills in my staff so that I can make myself somewhat redundant, this is something I truly see as a measure of my success. It is however one of my greatest challenges and I am extremely conscious of providing opportunities and entrusting these amazing staff to shine and not avoid delegating for fear of loss of control. I know that by doing this, I will ultimately demonstrate that I value them.
I consider myself fortunate to have the opportunity to establish strong relationships with my students and their families. I see my students all day, everyday which means I am advantaged over my peers whom spend at most 4 1/2 hours per week with each class. My challenge in my current role is to find ways to support my peers in developing great relationships with their students despite not spending extended periods with them.
Whilst it may be easy to justify the depth of my relationship with my students as determined by the extended period which I do get to spend with them, I think this certainly helps but is not the sole component. We can spend countless hours with people and never develop trust or connections as I am sure we have all been witnesses to in schools or workplaces.
On a personal note, it reminds me of the relationship my mother developed with my children. I moved from my family home in Darwin, to Adelaide at the age of 15 to pursue sporting aspirations. As the youngest of three children, my mother found this difficult and I know it meant at times she felt a sense of helplessness with me being so far away.
I settled in Adelaide, and though work took me elsewhere at times, Adelaide remained home and I returned to my birthplace rarely, keeping in touch with my mother generally through weekly phone calls. My relationship with my mother was always close and whilst my older sister needed the daily phone contact (also living interstate) we maintained our strong connection and I never questioned why we didn’t need more.
With the birth of my daughter, my mother fell in love again just as she had done with my niece (her first grandchild) two years earlier. Being “Nanny Faraway” meant the (pre digital) camera was rolling out film to be processed in duplicates with a set to be sent north as soon as they were developed. Drawings and letters soon accompanied the photos as my first born took to creating masterpieces!
“Nanny Faraway” soon became the creator, ghost writer, co conspirator and director of the “Tricky Fairies”. These “Tricky Fairies” wrote to my daughter about all the amazing things they had seen her do (information gathered and bestowed upon said fairies through conversations between myself and my mother). The “Tricky Fairies” left special gems and tokens (crystals, trinkets and small toys my mother sent down via mail to be “planted” in the garden) and also played tricks on her (me hiding things, or rearranging items in her room). It was a full time job keeping up with my mothers Tricky Fairy business!
My second child arrived two years after his sister and the first grandson for my mother. More joy, more excitement and now the “Tricky Fairies” had another focus. More letters, more tricks, more trinkets! This continued throughout their young lives. My children would build houses and playgrounds for the fairies from lego and toys. They would write letters and ask them questions. My daughter would leave tiny pieces of paper for them to write on and create tiny little noughts and crosses games for them.
Nanny Faraway would ring and they would both be desperate to tell her all the things the “Tricky Fairies” had done. It filled her heart with joy, it filled me with joy and those two little children were swept away in magic and fairy dust!
My mother was diagnosed with cancer when my son was 2. She was given 18 months at best and whilst they began a radical and invasive treatment regime, this was to prolong her life only, not to cure her. My siblings and I endured a rollercoaster of emotions, desperately, selfishly wanting our mother to be afforded old age and angry that our children were to lose her encompassing love, compassion, generosity and spirit. My mother remained strong, never complained, blamed or showed anger at any time. She was hurting though, and to this day it stills wrenches my insides when I recall her sadness as she confessed that she wanted more time with her grandchildren. She wanted my son to remember her, to see her face and know it when we talked about her in years to come.
My mother recieved her radiotherapy treatment in Adelaide as there were no facilities in Darwin. This meant that we could spend time with her, though for periods due to the risk of infection, the children were unable to visit. My mother surpassed her 18month prognosis and received ongoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy for several years. Throughout this time, the Tricky Fairies continued their antics and when we visited Darwin her garden was a tropical haven for all things fairy and magical. My children spent many hours hunting for and discovering things the fairies had left (often things that we never intended).
My mother passed away 5 years ago. I miss her terribly, especially around celebrations, birthdays, anniversaries and of course Mother’s Day. My children remember her lovingly and we talk about her often. The time she spent with them was short, but my goodness it was precious and memorable.
My mother taught me that we don’t need to spend hours together to achieve enduring relationships. I will always try to make the most of my time with students, however short, to look them in the eye, listen and hear what they have to say, be honest and compassionate . It will only ever reap benefits. I will also remember how little time we need to have a huge impact on the young people in our lives.