Innovation in Education: Why? How?

I’ve never been able to do something without giving it my all. When I commit and put my mind to something, you better believe that it’s going to be done to the best of my ability. And it doesn’t stop there… When I really get passionate about something, I want to share it with the world. People that know me well will understand what I mean when I simply mention Applecheeks cloth diapers, babywearing or car seat safety. People that know me professionally will know that I’m always willing to share and help my colleagues whether it be by showing them something, by giving a presentation, or by offering to give a workshop. Well, I’m now getting excited to shout to the whole world about all of the amazing things that I’m learning surrounding innovation in education. My hope is that my excitement becomes contagious and helps to lead others to something amazing. I’m surprised that it’s taken me this long, but I recently discovered how amazing twitter is for networking. This has really opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities! And now with blogging, my mind is completely blown! If you’re an educator and you aren’t on twitter yet, please please please sign up!! Reading and writing blogs is also such a powerful way to network and collaborate!

So why is innovation in education so important? Why can’t we continue to do what we’ve always done?  After all, we survived and look how we turned out! The reason is quite simple: the times are changing while education is not, and we therefor aren’t preparing our students for the real, current, world!

For me personally, I keep thinking about my four boys. My eldest just started first grade and all I can think about is his education and what it looks like day in and day out. All I want at the end of his journey in school, is for him (and for his brothers) to be ready to take on the world. I want loving, independent, creative leaders who have the skills to be successful. Feeling this for my own kids, in turn, makes me feel the exact same way for each and every one of my students.

So, if change is an opportunity to do something amazing, let’s make that change! In order to do that, we need to educate ourselves so that we’re able to be innovative in our classroom. After all, when we know better, we do better. Let’s let our students teach us a thing or two about innovation, and let’s let them take the lead in order to develop those skills. Let’s network with other amazing educators out there in order to bounce ideas off of one another. Let’s commit to start making small changes and to take risks!

This year, I’ve chosen to really commit to creating a student led classroom. Over the summer, I read “Learn Like A Pirate” by Paul Solarz and was inspired to try new things with my students. I wasn’t (and am sometimes still not) always sure on how I was going to be able to do this with a first grade french immersion class, but I decided to take it slow and to try things out to see how it goes. I’m so happy and proud to say that it is going even better than I could’ve ever imagined!!! Here are some of the things I’ve done so far this year (and we’re only 2.5 weeks into the school year):

  1. During our morning meetings, we talk a lot about how this is OUR classroom and not my classroom. We talk about teamwork and how everyone has responsibilities in order to make sure that our class runs smoothly. We also created our hopes and dreams board (responsive classroom style) and continue to refer to it in order to remember that we’re all part of everyone’s success in class.
  2. The students and I came up with classroom jobs. Every day, the students’ jobs change, but the cool thing about it is that I’ve only ever taught the jobs on the first day. Ever since then, the students are responsible to go and talk to the student who had their job the day before in order to know what is expected of them. They are also responsible to go and teach their previous job to the next student who gets it. Yes, this is all possible even with young first graders. Plus, think of all of the skills that are being developed: leadership, teamwork, personal responsibility, respect for the group and the environment, etc… Check our my students in action Classroom jobs
  3. I am working towards having the students lead lessons. For now, each day, a student will lead the calendar activities. As the year progresses, we will add more!
  4. Last week, I introduced Give Me Fives. This is where the students can call out Give Me Five (or as we chant in class “Donne-moi, donne-moi cinq”) in order to get the class’ attention. At first, I would help students understand when they should be doing Give Me Fives by going up to them and telling them that this would be a good time to do a Give Me Five and explain to them why. Now, only a week in, the students have embraced this new method and are often doing it all on their own to ask their peers a questions or to remind students to do something that was forgotten. I am so proud of them and can’t wait to see what this brings as the year progresses.
  5. I’ve read and seen many questions around how to explain innovation in classroom to parents who might be a little skeptical. Katie touched on the topic yesterday in the #IMMOOC video and I think it totally has to do with educating the public. I’ve been using Seesaw in my class since last year, and I’ve found this to be an amazing tool for many reasons, one of which is being able to educate parents about what’s going on in class. My parents are already all aware of our hopes and dreams board as well as our class responsibilities. I’ve explained why we are doing this on Seesaw and have gotten great feedback. Next, my students will explain to their parents, via Seesaw, how we are using Give Me Fives in class.

I still have many things that I want to incorporate in my classroom this year, but given the fact that it’s only been a couple of weeks since the school year has begun, and that I’m new to all of this, I’d say that my students and I are off to a good start.

My next plans in my classroom are to further explore flex seating (which I’m kind of doing, but want to do better), to start Skyping with another grade 1 class in Montreal (planning is in the works for the French version of Global Real Aloud: Écouter Lire le Monde), and to continue developing a student led classroom. How about you? I’d love to hear of your plans on how you will incorporate innovation in your classroom!

  1. Holly Christian

    September 27, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    I love the focus you are taking with your classroom, from the students taking a responsibility, to having them teach a lesson. These give the students ownership, makes them feel like a contributing part of the team, the family. When you say you don’t do something half way, you are right on! From an outsider, I think your biggest hurdle will be explaining your philosophy to the parents. If someone is not in education, I think it’s hard for them to understand a system they are not familiar or comfortable with. Keep going, the benefits of your classroom are going to surface to the top and allow you to showcase them! Can’t wait to keep reading!

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