Reflecting on times where I have been involved in innovation, this quote rings true.
“The visionary starts with a clean sheet of paper and reimagines the world.”
- Malcolm Gladwell
That clean sheet of paper has only the names of the people we love. And their problems become our problems. Which leads us to seek real solutions. Which takes us away from what we’ve always done and into a new place where every idea is welcome.
Just a few examples:
We were innovative because we had the common belief in all of our students and knew we needed to start with a “clean sheet” and be open to all possibilities.
But here is my hard truth. I'm innovative in ideas I believe in. As I'm reflecting, I know I have been guilty of shutting ideas down. As a dear friend told me, to be truly innovative, all ideas must be on the table, even the ones that are near and dear to our hearts.
We can all share examples where we were open to innovation and it made a lasting impact. Are we open to ideas from every source or do we limit our acceptance of innovation to certain people and specific topics? Are we vulnerable enough to share the ideas we've squashed?
Terresa Katt, principal at Forest Ridge, posed the question, "Is there a way to meet the needs of the dyslexia students so they don't need to miss out on an elective?" Me: "No. It won't work in our schedule."
I simply said "no”. I advocated for high school students to be taught at an elementary campus and still shot this idea down with a simple, "It won't work in our schedule". She stirred something in me. I started to wonder why we were so tied to a master schedule. I knew I needed to be better but wasn’t sure how to accomplish this. So, three years later, a team of innovative people created the schedule. Three years later, students can receive a necessary intervention and attend an elective. Innovation is a process that begins with a seed, often in the form of a question that shows up in an everyday conversation.
I am so thankful Terresa Katt, an innovative educator, posed that question and challenged my thinking.