The education community has frequently been accused of a swinging pendulum effect; implementing one initiative after another and then swinging back to the original. This has caused an inordinate amount of skepticism and apathy amongst long time teachers who don’t believe any innovation is worth implementing since it will just go by the wayside eventually, leaving all their hard work behind.
Our move toward a proficiency-based (competency-based) learning system has been met with this type of skepticism by some. Some have said, “we did this back in the early eighties; remember coming up with all those competencies?”. I was a student during this time and as far as learning is concerned, I don’t see what we are doing in 2016 as being the same as that. It’s a souped up version of that. Is a souped up version of what we once did, innovation? I would argue that it is.
I would also argue that at the rate that the world is changing, education better keep changing. If you are a teacher who is expecting to create units once and use them until you retire, you are in the wrong line of work. I can’t think of very many teachers who would say that out loud but maybe they are subconsciously thinking it. I can’t blame them; it’s a lot of work to plan instruction. It’s an extremely complex task. And many have had the experience where they implement something really good and are then told that they can’t do it anymore. As we lead new learning, it is important to acknowledge this experience. But as teachers, we need to acknowledge the need for constant innovation.
According to George Couros, Innovator’s Mindset, innovation is taking something and making it better in some way. It is important to get clear on this idea. Innovation doesn’t have to be something completely new. We don’t need to throw out everything and start from scratch in order to be innovative. In fact, that would be highly inefficient given how fast the world is changing.
There is no right direction. Educational needs are constantly changing and we have to bob and weave with those changing needs. We need to stop thinking of every educational shift as a brand new initiative. If we are going to stay motivated though, we need to remember that we are not redoing everything. We are taking our best work and improving it, adding to it, tweaking it and building on it. What amazing things are you doing that you can build on?