I have been extremely lucky to work in a school that is very innovative. We have a staff that is always open to trying new things with the ultimate goal of helping all of our students experience success.
Many years ago we were part of a group of schools in Alberta that began the 1:1 laptop program. We introduced over 120 laptops to our grades 5 and 6 students. Recently we became part of an iPad program for Alberta schools where our Grade 3’s have their own iPads and ECS – Grade 2 have enough to create literacy centers in each of their classrooms. We have also been part of many division initiatives, willing to test drive different programs to evaluate their value and help pave the way for other schools. Our latest innovative idea revolves around improving reading comprehension by creating a blocked time during each day where small groups of children read and interact with an adult.
So what makes our school willing to try innovative ideas? The main reason would be that every staff member is committed to helping every student succeed. This means more than just the academics. It means providing whatever a child needs so that they feel safe and secure and are ready and willing to learn. It makes us look at barriers that our students face and what we need to do to help them overcome them. Therefore we have a staff that is always looking for new or different ways to do things (thinking outside the box). It also means finding creative ways to challenge students so that we are always pushing their learning. Having a dedicated, passionate staff that feels they can take chances, is a very important factor.
How do we know our innovations are making a difference and how do we revisit them? We look at data. We analyze trends, areas of strength, and areas of need. We collaborate, in grade level teams, division level teams, and whole staff teams. We meet regularly to discuss how programs are working and what steps we need to take to see continued growth. We evaluate the effectiveness of an innovative idea and make sure that it fits our school and students.
Of course this means that there will be things that don’t work or need to be changed. However,we are always willing to learn from our experiences and are not afraid to make mistakes. But, those are the things that help keep the road open to pave the way for innovation.