The scene posted above exists at the Glassell School of Art here in Houston, TX. This visual art installation represents much of our semester artwork from grades 5-8, and while the pictures posted depict only a few samples, there are TWO FLOORS of exhibit space with various art pieces that our students have created. We are all so proud of this art installation. Our students have demonstrated insightful and creative thought, and I am thrilled to see the innovative framework that our art teachers prepared.
As I wrote about in my previous blog post, John Spencer’s opinion of innovation is one I agree with wholeheartedly: innovative work can be derived from any tool, tech-related or not. In the pictures above, you may be able to identify a few roosters in the background. This particular project asked students to paint WITH A FORK, blending color and adding texture to this two-dimensional image. The students really got into it, having a ton of fun while creating these pictures. It was difficult work! There were lots of consternation and restarts to achieve the image desired…I loved watching them squirm their way through it!
While I don’t wish for teachers to measure self-worth based on comparison, the expectation to reflect on what is best for students in each classroom is a requirement for innovation.
When I look at the Essential Questions in Chapter Two of The Innovator’s Mindset, I reflect on how the most innovative faculty member I know would answer each one. I would hope that this teacher accurately combines forward-thinking and practicality in pursuing the “next great thing” for his or her students. Overall, I expect and desire all faculty to offer their very best when it comes to daily procedure and innovative effort. While I don’t wish for teachers to measure self-worth based on comparison, the expectation to reflect on what is best for students in each classroom is a requirement for innovation. After all, what is best changes constantly; so riding the wave of innovation has become quintessential in the pursuit of institutional success.
The visual art teachers in our hallways are great examples of student-driven innovation in the classroom. While we have great 3-D tools and unique technology, sometimes the question of “what do students need to experience in art” creates opportunity for innovation that is unexpected. Enter the fork…
Learning Truly or Truly Learning?
Finally, I want to focus on this specific question presented in Chapter Two: “What are some ways we can create a true learning community?” This is a wonderful question to consider as an educational leader. As presented in the text, an active learning community ensures that research and exploration remains in the hands of the learner and not the teacher. Among faculty members, much of this statement connects to the innovative mindset discussed above. Teachers must stay abreast of that “next great thing” for their classrooms, not as a directive from on high, but as a self-propelled study of interest. Teachers should take ownership of their professional development; and, we as school leadership should work very hard to ensure that teacher interests are validated. Academic pursuits to innovate in the classroom need to be celebrated, whether they crumble or succeed. Failure is just a first attempt at learning, and should be received with glee and we should “Keep Moving Forward” (see video). That is how I expect teachers to respond to student innovation, so I must model that expectation for teachers, too.
At the same time, we want their research to create practical implementation in the short- and long-term. As Dr. Brad Gustafson commands in his UnearthED podcast, empowering teachers as readers of educational blogs, journals, or books keeps the job fresh and exciting for all. But the emphasis is on reading, in whatever medium, for personal and professional development.
So many of us who are reading this blog are working through The Innovator’s Mindset; however, I would love to know how your schools share what is read…does your school have reading groups? Do you post on your doors the books you are reading? Can the kids see your lists? Feel free to comment with your experiences.