Recently, I posted about being an agent of change, and I would like to clarify and change some of my previous statements. The word change sometimes freaks people out because it implies that we are doing something wrong and need to change. While there are cases where this is true, I like to think that in most cases we are just evolving. Take what we are doing and finding ways to do it better and more effectively for our students. To me this is innovation and I have had a lot of recent questions in response to me video post. The question I get is, “what does innovation look like?” Here are a few tangible examples from my classroom over this past two years.
Grading: I have changed my grades to be more specific and based on learning standards. I no longer grade based on participation, compliance, or general school related behaviors. A student’s grade in my class is directly related to their mastery of learning standards and nothing else.
Assessments: My assessments are now directly related to the learning standards and not just a photocopy out of a textbook resource book. I also have multiple versions of assessments that offer a variety of options for showing mastery. Some are pencil and paper tests while a majority are project based and individualized to a student’s needs. In addition, students are given multiple opportunities to show mastery which removes the test and performance anxiety.
Homework: I no longer assign homework…on the rare occasion that I do, it is not a part of a student’s grade. I view homework as practice and preparatory work. You are not judged on how you practice in basketball; the game is all that counts. In class, the practice or homework and class activities prepare you for the “game” which is the assessment activities.
Technology: The use of technology in my class is varied, routine, and hard to predict. Most people by default think you are being innovative and forward thinking just because you have a SmartBoard in your room or kids are on laptops. I disagree with that and strive to make sure the technology is pushing the learning further and not just a “cool thing” in the room. I use technology to offer another outlet for different learning styles and as a resource to push learning past the lecture and textbook.
Again, these are just a few examples of things that I have done to evolve my teaching and continue to be innovative. I try not to be innovative just say that I am…there is no value in that. I try to innovative to simply make the learning experiences for my students richer and more valuable.