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Innovation Takes Time

I started this school year by participating in Educator’s Innovation Day. The day was dedicated for educators to work individually or in groups on anything they wanted to work on around the theme of improving education. I spent the day working with Jesse McLean around the idea of wanting to come up with a middle years entrepreneurial option. By the end of the day we had created the Becoming Tycoons Option and Student Business Planning Guide designed to allow for student choice, innovation, and introduce them to business concepts such as start-ups, management, marketing, and finances. Both Greystone Centennial Middle School and Muir Lake School students will be participating in this option at the same time so we are going to be setting up collaboration and sharing opportunities between our students with Google Hangouts and in person. We have not yet taught this option yet, but I am very excited to see what the students come up with for their businesses. Ultimately, my hope is that this will lay a foundation and open up possibilities for students in their future in the area of business and innovation.

Although, I am excited about this project that we came up with, the day in and of itself has bigger implications for educators. Taking the time to spend a day working on something that we have never done before and was completely brand new to us was extremely valuable. How often do we do that? It is so easy to fill up our days with the business of working and teaching in a school. Rarely, do we feel like we have the time to just sit, talk, and collaborate on working on something new with the aim to improve education. Yet, I would argue that this is some of the most valuable time that we could spend as an educator and is too often neglected.

As educators, we don’t spend enough time in quadrant II of Steven Covey’s Time Management Grid. Taking time to think, reflect, collaborate, share, be creative and innovate never feels urgent but it is of the utmost importance. This time is what keeps education relevant in an ever changing world. It is time that ignites passion and motivation in students and teachers. It is what fights off a culture of complacency that allows for things to be taught and learned in the same way just because that is the way it was taught and learned last year… and the year before that… and the year before that.  It is time that fuels inspiration, growth and change. It is time that allows for the extraordinary as opposed to settling for mediocrity. As educators we need to prioritize this time.

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I know our days are busy. I feel the pressure of the other quadrants everyday. (more…)

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“Who’s on First?” Conflict vs. Combat

“Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.” Max Lucade 

It is natural and even expected that whenever a group of people gather in one place in order to accomplish a task that disagreements, differences of opinion, and conflict will occur. Many people tend to shy away from confrontation, viewing it as a negative or uncomfortable event, that will often bring disastrous results. I have witnessed people walk away from disagreements carrying personal offense over an issue that has been damaging to the relationship. Consequently, a tendency to avoid confrontation, contribute to problem solving tasks, and collaborate effectively with one another will develop among colleagues. This type of staff culture is highly ineffective, debilitating, and unacceptable for a highly productive learning team. Conflict is actually a positive thing that can inspire the best in individuals and solutions moving forward, as long as it doesn’t become combat.

As an administrator of a school, I have dealt with a number of conflicts at our school that have arisen between staff, students, volunteers, and parents in different combinations of all of these groups of individuals. Every conflict involved different people and different issues; however, they all, in one way or another, had one thing in common… communication or more accurately… miscommunication. (more…)

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