Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

You are here

Innovation Paper

sasha's picture

Innovation in education is the response to the different identities of the learners in a classroom. It is creating a culturally responsive curriculum that places the learner at the center. Because there are so many different kinds of learners, different methods/vehicles of teaching have to be practiced in order to support as many learners as possible. Innovation in education is finding out new ways of doing things in a learning environment. In relation to the identities of the learners, Innovation is using their identity to come up with new ways of teaching the material. A great example of a teacher that practiced this learner-centered culturally responsive curriculum is what Dr. Joy Fluallen spoke about during the panel. He made it explicit that his goals were to place his students at the center of all of it. By taking the extra time to familiarizing himself with the culture his students were apart of; this is innovation in itself. His awareness of the different learning styles present in a classroom is evident by his opening quote. By taking a step back, and not focusing on his preferential ways of learning, Dr. Fluallen was able to focus on the students’ wants and needs, and then proceed to deliver. Dr. Fluallens willingness to step out of his comfort-zone for the sake of his learners is more effective and speaks to the quality of the teacher rather than the challenges themselves.

            Innovation is also when the teacher begins to learn about him/herself and reflects on what is going on in the classroom. It is about making the classroom a learning space for everyone, and a space where everyone can take turns doing the teaching. When the teacher makes it clear that she has the student’s best interest at heart. Going off the conversation we had today, genuine trust between the teacher and student can also be a form of innovation. It takes a lot of trust for a teacher to be comfortable to talk to his/her students in ways in which he/she is being themselves, while making sure the students are comfortable with it as well. That is a skill I think every teacher/instructor should acquire; the ability to feel comfortable showing certain parts of ones identity, while being able to maintain boundaries. There is a fine line between having a connection while maintaining boundaries, and simply being friends. I believe when the teachers’ “crazy matches the students crazy” as Quela said, the class is able to work itself out and maintain order. When there is a certain amount of trust, the teacher will be able to call out on students without worrying about a backlash. I think acquiring this ability is also a form of innovation because it forces the teacher to show parts of their identity that they probably did not expect to show, or that other teachers don’t normally express.

            The definition of innovation will also change according to the setting. Innovation in a classroom in a high school classroom will look different from innovation in a prison. I think innovation in a school might be something planned at the beginning of the year when the teacher begins to have a sense of the dynamics, and demographics of her classroom. In a prison, the instructors have to come up with innovative plans every week. Because a group in a prison is not as consistent as it would be in a school, the population of students may vary week to week. Conversations and topics may/will vary every week. Although it may be similar in a classroom, where you will have to constant keep updating and revising you lesson plans, at least you have a sense of who will be there and different activities you can do. In a prison, most of the time you have to come in with a general sense of what topics you want to make sure to hit, and then play it by ear for the rest. Innovation in a prison also looks very different from a classroom because of the much more lack of resources available.

            Thinking about the science workshops we had, a lot of innovation must have gone into the planning of those sessions. There are a number of small things that are taken for granted in high schools. Laptops, microscopes, PowerPoint slides, all these things are materials that are being taken for granted in classrooms where no one will prohibit a teacher from brining in their laptops or lab equipment if they wanted to.  When we had the workshops at the prison, there was a long list of things that the facilitators had to modify in order to move forward with the lesson plan. A number of things need to be modifies in order to teach in an institution where you have so many restrictions. Even general questions that they might have about anything needs to wait for answers because we do not have the resources to look it up online on the spot.

            Innovation is the teachers/instructors ability to adapt to different situations while maintaining the students at the center of it all. Taking as many measures as possible to make sure the students are being met where they are, instead of making assumptions and making them jump over hoops in order to achieve a goal. A teacher must have a good sense, and relationship with their students in order to implement the best teaching practices that will benefit most, if not all, his/her students.