I was invited by my Principal to attend an Admin meeting with him at the Surrey Academy of Innovative Learning (SAIL). It was a meeting that showcased what other schools are doing around the issue of innovation and flexible structures and to share ideas on how to move from pockets of innovation to a culture of innovation. On my page “Thoughts and Rambles” I talked about the argument that innovation = motivation = engagement of our students. I believe after attending this session and hearing what other schools like SAIL, Thomas Haney, Timberline, Fraser Heights, Inquiry Hub, A.L Fortune, Westview to name a few, has strengthened my argument.
We need to allow students to become empowered. We need to lose the control that some teachers/administrators have on their classrooms/buildings so that students want to be in that space. SAIL requires students to be face-to-face 2-3 times a week but they find that students are there more frequently because they are empowered and motivated to be there. The consensus seems to be that the strongest learning is happening in the most flexible schedules. Whether it is “X” block at L.A. Fortune, Innovative Timetable at Thomas Haney or Flex Time at Walnut Grove, the learning and value of these times enables students to see the real world connection of their learning and thus become more engaged. Again its not about how engaged the teacher is since if we are truly innovating the students shouldn’t need to rely on an engaged teacher (they need an inspired teacher willing to take risks but in a project-based/inquiry-based model the teacher should be secondary).
It is a really simple equation that we must follow: innovation leads to empowerment and creates motivation in the students to want to learn that ends in the engagement of the student.
We need to think of other ways that typical brick and mortar schools can do to create flexible schedules and innovative teaching styles that will do this for our students. Thank you to all the administrators who let me in on this conversation and the day. Any other ideas please leave me a message.