Innovation in Education

Child staring out a window in a classroom
Students have access to more information in their pockets than ever before, yet they are often told to leave their phones in their lockers.
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on pinterest
Pinterest

This article was originally posted at Passing Notes and is the first in a series for a MOOC on The Innovator’s Mindset #IMMOOC by George Couros.

Imagine if a student today time-traveled to the classroom of 1917.  Our time-traveling student would be out of place culturally, and yet the classroom itself might not be terribly different.  In the classrooms of 2017, chalkboards have been replaced by whiteboards, overhead projectors by LCD projectors or even some type of SMART board, but are students still sitting in rows and turning in worksheets?   Or they creating, producing, and collaborating?

When one of my own kids brought home a classroom syllabus from school, I felt deflated as I read it.  The paper looked as if it had been typed — on a typewriter — decades ago.  The teacher had scribbled out percentages on the paper and handwritten over them before sending it through the copy machine.  Students will complete 30 homework problems each night (with the answers in the back of the book) — not exactly engaging, transformative, or innovative.  I have difficulty imagining that the students in this classroom are inspired to learn more on their own or are looking forward to another day of lectures, rows, and drilled practice.

In the introduction of The Innovator’s Mindset, George Couros (@gcouros) writes,

We forget that our responsibility isn’t solely to teach memorization or the mechanics of a task but to spark a curiosity that empowers students to learn on their own.

To wonder.
To explore.
To become leaders.

We forget that if students leave school less curious than when they started, we have failed them.

Why is it so difficult to innovate in education today?  Students have access to more information in their pockets than I had in an entire school library, yet they are often told to leave their phones in their lockers, or they’re blocked by school firewalls on all kinds of websites.

While some teachers become early innovators in their buildings, it’s rare to see an entire building of innovators.  One key difference between a handful of innovators and an entire system that values innovation lies in leadership.  Innovative leadership is still uncommon in the world of education.  After leaving the face-to-face classroom to work as a lead instructor at Michigan Virtual, my new supervisor told me, “I see my job as being the person to remove barriers for our teachers.”  I thought she was messing with me.  I’m sure I looked highly skeptical after years of feeling roadblocked in a large public school system.  But she was true to her philosophy, and it’s a philosophy I keep at the forefront as I now lead teachers within our organization.

What would be possible for classroom teachers if all school leaders took the approach of removing barriers for their teachers?  How would that ultimately change a classroom experience for students?

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Andrea McKay

Andrea McKay

Andrea holds degrees in secondary education from the University of Michigan and curriculum and instruction from Spring Arbor University. She spent nearly 15 years teaching social studies face-to-face in Jackson, where she lives with her family and ever-barking dogs, before serving as the Lead Social Studies Instructor, Instructional Manager and Administrator of Instructional Leadership with Michigan Virtual. Andrea is passionate about making a difference in the lives of educators and students, and she can also be found living it up in a camper somewhere around the Great Lakes with her family.

The Digital Backpack

Get our latest articles sent straight to your inbox every Thursday!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Limited Course Capacity

We’re sorry to inform you that we have reached capacity for several of our Semester 1 and Trimester 1 courses. You’ll notice when attempting to enroll students in our Student Learning Portal that some courses are unavailable. While we are no longer accepting new enrollments for these courses at this time, many courses continue to remain open for enrollment.

With many students across the state 100% remote, demand for our online courses is greater than ever before. Because every course we offer is taught by a Michigan-certified teacher, this high volume of enrollments has created capacity issues for our teachers who provide each and every student with individual feedback.

While the Michigan Virtual team anticipated and planned for significant increases in student enrollments this Fall, the increased demand we’ve experienced has been unprecedented. As a result, we are taking steps to hire even more part-and full-time teachers to support larger numbers of student enrollments for Semester 2 as well as for Trimester 2 and 3. 

For schools that still need online learning options this year, please fill out the form at the bottom of our virtual pathways page to meet with someone to discuss other solutions. While some of our teacher-led courses are full, we may still have the capacity to help you in upcoming terms or can discuss timing to implement a whole-school or collaborative program in which local teachers from your school/district use our online course content to teach students. We also have free course content and resources available for you to use.

We know this is an incredibly stressful time for all, and we’re sorry if the courses you’re looking for are unavailable. We never want to turn away a student who wants to learn from us. Our top concern, however, is student success, and we have a policy to not take on additional enrollments if we cannot guarantee that all students will have a quality online learning experience. 

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate the unusually high volume of enrollments we are receiving.