A common thing I hear from educators is, “I don’t have time to be innovative.”
I get it.
The demands of teachers are seemingly going up while the time frame of our days stays the same. From my conversations with educators, the “other stuff” that they do not tell you about in college (paperwork, reports, meetings, etc.) is getting to be more and more.
A couple of things…
If you are reading this, always ask yourself, “Am I adding to the plate or am I adding to the person?” Are there things that you are asking of the people you serve making their work better or making their work more difficult? I have pushed many administrators and sharing that they need to clear the path more than be the obstacle. Yes, there are things to be done in education that are necessary for reasons beyond our control, but I also have been witness to added initiatives and tasks that seem like “extra” and are often due to a lack of trust, not an abundance.
I remember this one story about a person who ran a hot dog cart that was extremely popular, but he could not keep up with the demand of preparing the food while also taking the money. What he did was put out a basket of change for customers so that they could make their own change. What had happened was that he not only sold more, but his tips went up because his customers felt valued. He shared that there were times where money was stolen, but he made so much more that the negative consequences were barely noticeable while the positives were abundant. It is a simple reminder that we often benefit when we trust others, but often lose before we start when we don’t. Trusting people often leads to less work for you and more valuable time for them. Seems like a good tradeoff.
And for teachers…
Part of innovation is how we use our time. Getting kids to take over initiatives in the classroom can not only lead to less work for you, but deeper learning for them. Replacing a newsletter with a video as you walk out of the building at the end of the day and tweeting it out can provide some quick information while doing something that you were already doing (walking out of the school).
I encourage reflection at all levels in education, but many teachers do not think they have the time. In the same way many teachers read while their kids read to model good learning, why not write while your kids write to model that process as well? No extra time out of the classroom and you are immersing in learning opportunities with your students. To be a master teacher you need to be a master learner, but that learning can be alongside your students, not only after school.
Understand that innovation is about a mindset, not implementing a bunch of bells and whistles, or technology into your classroom because it seems like the thing to do. It is about creating better opportunities for learning within the constraints of the work that is to be done. What most educators don’t realize is that they are innovating more often than they are given credit.
How you utilize time is part of innovation in the classroom and if it leads to better learning, for your students and yourself, you are on the right track.