The Innovation Train

Everyone get on the innovation train. I think it’s like a lot of things in life. You find yourself following the same routine…it can be the trap of school. Many of us attend the same building, follow the same timetable and see the same students throughout a year.   Maybe it’s a situation where it’s not just for a year but years…the same building, same timetable and/or teachable subjects. There is the strong built-in possibility for repetition. This is routine in the bad sense of the word. Innovation, I see as a practice of revisiting what we’ve already done without hopefully having to totally reinvent the wheel. The word that keeps coming up for me is mindfulness: Am I paying attention to good teaching practices? Are my students being empowered (I might have said engaged before but I recognize now the distinction between engagement and empowerment)? Is my classroom a place that students don’t look forward to going to? The question is about mindfulness, but innovation is the answer—at least in part.

I still have questions, notably about the diversity of learners in my classes and how to address their needs justly. But I’m now on this train with a lot of others who are along for the journey, hoping to pick up as many as we can along the way, able to figure out together the answers to as many challenges as we might encounter to innovation (and to good teaching practice, student empowerment, positive student attitude, etc.) along the way.

Russ Skinner

Grant Park High School

Cluster 1996

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