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Innovation in Education

- A call to all teachers

The Education revolution that was promised so many years ago is still moving, but are we moving quickly enough? Although it’s shifting, is it keeping up with the real world? We need more momentum, more innovation. These are crazy times, and the ability to be flexible for change will be part of that new momentum. Change can only be truly facilitated by those on the ‘front lines’, those teachers working every day with students. Incorporating innovative new technologies that enhance classes, engage and stimulate students and transform classroom learning. I believe this transformation will come through sheer force of will from teachers willing to ‘push the envelope’. Not just throwing tech at students, but knowing how to empower them. It will spring from an understanding that teachers, parents and our principals are not the priority, our students are! They deserve a modern education and need it now more than ever! The pandemic has offered us the chance to reassess how, where and when learning takes place.

Safe isn’t going to change the world, or fix it. Education needs teachers and principals who are risk takers, innovators, trail blazers and disrupters. It is time to look to new technologies and see where they can be utilised in our schools? Hybrid learning spaces, parallel classrooms both physical and virtual. Global classrooms in virtual worlds that bring experts, students and teachers together in creative, collaborative learning environments. The possibilities are endless. A curriculum that threads technology throughout, and perhaps less emphasis on the all encompassing NAPLAN testing that has become as divisive as it is diagnostic.

I’ve spent twenty three years at the ‘coal face’ teaching in classrooms around the world. Six of those years fighting to get technology into schools and five here in Australia working as an Apple Learning Specialist/teacher alongside students and educators. The technological power and potential for these children is exponential. I’ve worked in some of the most affluent schools and some of the poorest. One thing connects them all, an inherent desire to create, a fundamental human condition.

I’ve seen the toughest students failing in every subject become re-engaged through the use of innovative technology used properly. I’ve seen students fail every standardised test given to them and go on become successful animators, musicians, coders and movie makers. Creatives! Teachers didn’t do it, we just facilitated it and gave students the tools to do it for themselves! Their world is moving at a million miles an hour and we have an obligation to equip them with the tools to succeed.

I’ve never heard a child ask “Remember that worksheet we did last month, can I do that again?” We’re still talking at them, when we should be talking with them, or better still - listening to their ideas. Teachers have to be so focused on what’s going to give us the best test results but in years to come, no one will give a flying fig what their Naplan results were, or how they did in the standardised tests we showered them with.

A huge majority of your class will not go on to become doctors, dentists or lawyers but 100% of them will go into a world driven by technology. It is the time of the creatives, the free and divergent thinkers. Our education systems often remain static because of the fear of the unknown. Time and time again we bring innovations into classrooms that light up students faces and enrich learning exponentially; yet often the cry is ‘we’d love to do this, but we’ve got a test coming up’, or “great but I don’t think the principal will agree”. Teachers are often reluctant to try something new because it would mean diverging from a standardised curriculum that they most push forward and complete, regardless of who’s been left behind.

We fought this fight because it was a fight worth fighting You may be sat in your staff room with a million and one ideas about how you can make everything better despite hearing “No money”, “No wifi”, “Not enough time” and my favourite “Not possible'.

It is all possible, but you will need to be the catalyst for change. You will need to step out of line and be the change.

Future focused learning is not about bean bags or bright, oddly shaped orange tables from iKea. It’s about getting technology into the hands of students and showing them what’s possible. Sparking creativity in everything they do, and reawakening potential before it gets snuffed out. It’s about shaping the curriculum around these technologies. The innovation revolution is now. The revolution needs you!

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