Friday, October 25, 2013

Creating the new normal

Today ASB hosted the PYP Mumbai Network and it was a pleasure to welcome to our school PYP educators from other schools in Mumbai.  Walking around the school, and seeing it from their eyes for a change, made me realize just how quickly I've adapted to the "new normal".  With 1:1 laptops for all students from Grade 1 upwards, no classrooms as such because there are no walls, all furniture on wheels so that it can be moved around, huge iCommons areas, tech support at IT Kiosks on every floor, an R&D office with a team of people whose eyes are on the future - this to me is now so much a part of my experience as an educator that I sometimes forget that not so long ago I was in a very different place.

In preparation for Suzie Boss's visit to ASB next month I'm reading her book Bringing Innovation to School.  ASB is a place where innovation is everywhere, so I was interested to read Suzie's Innovation Profile which applies both to individual teachers and to the administrators who either encourage or discourage innovation:

  • Action oriented - Suzie says that "taking action is a hallmark of innovators"  Stanford University's says it's about "doing and making over thinking and meeting".
  • Knowing how to network - Innovators are eager to network, mostly using Web 2.0 tools. Innovative educators are thinking aloud and sharing using blogs, wikis and Twittter.  They don't just share finished or successful projects, they blog or tweet as they go along, writing about what is working and what isn't.  Innovative educators are reflective and are happy for others to build on their experiences.
  • Risk-takers - Sharing projects in public that may or may not work as expected is very risky - but innovators are not afraid of making mistakes and learning from them publicly - and sharing across a network allows input from many others into improvements that can eventually lead to success.  
  • Forward looking - the title of this blog post comes from this statement of Suzie's:  "Because innovation creates a new normal, it's often only in hindsight that we can see the wisdom of breakthrough ideas".  Innovators are not looking backwards, however, they are looking ahead.
  • Overcoming obstacles - Innovation is messy with a lot of failure along the way - this doesn't sit right with many schools that have little tolerance for mess or wrong turnings.  Recently while Bernajean Porter was at ASB I learned a new phrase from her: "Da Um Jeitinho" which means there is always a way to make something happen.  Innovators break down the barriers!
  • Moving ideas forward - innovators spread the word, they share what is working so that others can use it too.  They collaborate and invite the community in.  They celebrate their students achievements and accomplishments openly.  
Walking around school today I realize that ASB has indeed created the "new normal".  And I reflected on what an inspiring school this is, and how proud and grateful I am to work here.

Photo Credit: Seth1492 via Compfight cc 

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