On Thursday, October 22, 2014 I had the honor and privilege to give my first Ignite presentation. If you are not familiar with an Ignite presentation, it’s a 5 minute mini-keynote that includes 20 slides that automatically transition every 15 second, whether you are ready or not. It’s an exciting, nerve racking, fun experience and I thank Matt Mingle, the President elect for NJASCD, for offering me the opportunity to participate.
Nine presenters gave Ignite sessions and each was outstanding. The theme was Innovate and the presenter could take the theme in whatever direction he / she wanted for the five minutes presentation. Here are my notes of what I prepared to present. I hope what I actually presented, because I went without notes, was close to the message I tried to convey.
I’m Scott Rocco – the proud Superintendent of Spotswood Public Schools and a proud Public School Educator.
Today like others I’m talking about the word Innovate.
And how this word…
MUST be part of our schools.
For far too long the mere thought of the word innovate in conjunction with education was thought to be completely illogical.
Forget mentioning the word, the concept, the practice.
Why would we innovate when we knew… really… we knew how to educate students.
Innovation in education involved blackboards and chalk. If you were really daring you included an overhead projector or a filmstrip.
Innovation in education was limited to a moment… a dead end opportunity.
As a student my limited opportunity was when a teacher dared to innovate with a Radio Shack TRS-80 computer and the one time I completed my work early. I had a chance to go to a room and play with one of four computers because I was able to complete some work before other students.
That brief moment sticks with me because it was lost opportunity… a lost chance to motivate and engage a student. A lost chance to truly innovate in a time when innovation was not a reality.
Then something happened in education at some moment in time by some educator who dared..
Dared to be innovative… I don’t know what the Tipping Point was, what pushed us over the hill
BUT WHO CARES…
We are here now… we are in the beginning stages of an era of educational innovation that is limited only by our ability to imagine and try.
When something new comes around the first thing people ask is:
Who is responsible for this innovation in education?
The responsibility to innovate is ours as educators. It’s the responsibility of everyone of us in this room today to be innovators in education.
We need educators who will question why we do what we do and how we can do it better.
We need educators who can innovate learning and teaching and education.
Every educator who wants to be an innovator can do so but those who choose can also be innovation leaders.
As teachers, supervisors, principals, and superintendents it’s our job to imagine and try… to Innovate
We need innovation leaders who can see 4 walls, desktop computers in rows and a whiteboard and transform it into a global learning opportunity.
But innovation leaders in our classrooms, our schools and our districts must also help others to imagine and try to innovate
As innovation leaders we need to help:
Nurture and foster and support and encourage the learning environment that makes it possible for others to image, try, and innovate.
We must create a trusting environment where innovation can be tried and fail but tried again.
But what is innovation in education?
Is it all technology?
Is it all about devices and wifi?
Is it all about doing things differently because someone asks you?
No… innovation is a mindset.
It’s about thinking, and trying things that are different from the way you did before.
It’s about exploring options and engaging students at new levels.
It’s about encouraging connections and collaboration where they never existed before.
In my office since I was a Middle School VP sits the poster on the right from Apple that says Think Different.
It helped spark a generation of computer users.
What if we as educators adopted the same concept and developed the motto
Think Innovatively and had a similar poster.
When we talk educational technology many immediately think innovation.
So we can easily make the Think Innovatively connection.
By we must remember that truly innovative thinking in educational technology means what we do with educational technology is more important than what technology we use.
But let’s go beyond educational technology
And let’s truly Think Innovatively about education and what we can do in an innovative educational world.
Let’s think beyond the obvious choices.
When we Think Innovatively in instructional practices we need to be willing to go beyond our comfort zones.
We need to look at what is possible outside of what has always been done.
To Think Innovatively in our instructional practices means we aren’t teaching to the top, middle, or bottom of the students we serve… We are teaching to each of our students.
When we Think Innovatively in Educational Leadership we need to be the role models.
We need to talk the talk and walk the walk.
To Thinking Innovatively as an Educational Leader means being innovative and supporting innovation.
Even when you’re not sure what it is or where it’s going just be excited and happy people are trying.
To Thinking Innovatively when it comes to our students means understanding how our students learn, when they learn, and what they really need to learn.
The students we teach today, more than any other time in the past, are ready to innovate.
Who are we to hold them back?
Steve Jobs who spent a lifetime Thinking Innovatively and changed the world.
Think about what a small group, a dozen, a hundred, everyone in this room, or a thousand educators could do if we all agreed to…