Innovation is one of the latest buzzwords in 21st century learning, but do you know what it really means and what it takes to create innovation in your own classroom? At its most basic definition an innovative classroom is one that uses new and different methods to truly engage students in the learning process by solving real world problems. Passionate, inspiring educators serve as facilitators and student supporters rather than solely providing delivery of information. Innovative teaching techniques use unique methods to educate the whole child and provide deep, meaningful knowledge while cultivating a true love of learning.
The following elements are essential to creating a culture of innovation in your own classroom.
- The recognition that the status quo (traditional method) of teaching doesn’t keep students as engaged and inspired as less traditional ones
- A leader with a vision who supports professional development and encourages collaboration among peers who support each other in their work is a necessity
- Successful technological integration that gives educators the tools to design individual learning experiences and amplifies student learning. Creating online communities of learners and focusing on project and inquiry based learning are two ways to make effective use of technology
- The understanding that it’s OK to make mistakes when developing and testing new ideas. The environment should be one in which students feel supported and safe taking risks
- Recognition of efforts and successes which will encourage others to experiment
- Collaboration among staff creates a culture of trust and support. Modelling this behavior to students will encourage them to do the same
- Freedom to create-the classroom becomes a lab, a maker space, a place where creativity can blossom and ideas flow freely
Since a space can either hinder or foster creativity in both educators and students alike, one of the most critical factors to consider is the physical learning environment. Areas for collaboration, as well as individual work are essential, and furniture that can be reconfigured on a moment’s notice can help make this easier. Flexible classrooms help teachers engage more easily with students and allow students to move more throughout the space. Dynamic learning environments that include some or all of the above ideas will inevitably allow thoughts to flow more freely and a culture of innovation to naturally blossom.