In order to be truly innovative, we must question the way things have always been done. We must be willing to rethink traditions and even think critically about research that we have always accepted as true. As Katie Martin points out in Learner-Centered Innovation, our traditions can often become excuses for not innovating.
Here are a few traditions and how I’m starting to rethink them with new research:
“It’s not developmentally appropriate.” Of course, we should honor a student’s current developmental stage, and plan learning experiences that are age-appropriate. Unfortunately, I’ve often heard this phrase used by teachers who aren’t ready to try something new…even if it is best for their students. When given the opportunity, students will rise to a challenge and exceed our expectations. Let’s not hold them back with outdated notions of what they can and can’t do. Rethinking? Through student-led experiences like Genius Hour, let’s allow students to demonstrate what they are truly capable of.
“There is no benefit of having iPads in a Kindergarten classroom.” Says who? I’m not saying that Kindergarten students, or any students, should be on the iPad all day. But I have seen even Kindergarten students use apps like Book Creator and Seesaw to share their learning, and to reflect and give feedback on the work of their peers. Rethinking? Check out #GAfE4Littles for tons of great ideas!
“Students can’t engage in complex, higher-level mathematics until they memorize all the math facts.” Even though research from Jo Boaler shows that the best way to develop number sense is to engage in problem solving, many teachers still find it necessary for students to memorize facts first. Rethinking? Provide all students an opportunity to solve real world authentic math problems, and promote rich discussions about math using resources like YouCubed and 3 Act Tasks from Graham Fletcher and Dan Meyer.
What traditions are holding you back from innovating, and how can you rethink them?