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Empowering Through Education by Judianne Jayme

Innovation and the educator:

Always learning, learning adapting

by Judianne Jayme

A colleague and I have been selected to be a part of a program called the Innovative Teaching and Learning Leaders Project, which focuses on innovation in the classrooms. The main text I am reading before our sessions is authored by George Couros (http://georgecouros.ca/blog/), a well known divisional principal who believes that leaders create other leaders. He focuses on building relationships, developing true leadership, and focusing on school as the “hub” of the community – and turning the school environment into a place that our kids need.

One issue Couros brings up is the lack of engagement in most classrooms. As a parent, you may have asked your child what happened at school, and they reply with the flat, dreaded “nothing.” We can rationalize this by saying, “Oh, kids will be kids” or, “He just doesn’t feel like talking to me.” The truth of the matter is that kids who reply with “nothing” are not bursting at the seams with excitement over their learning day. They are simply not engaged with their learning.

As an educator, I am thrilled to hear when parents tell me, “My child has been so excited about this new series you’re teaching – (he/she) won’t stop talking about it!” This doesn’t happen all the time, certainly not in my first year of teaching, but it is becoming a sentiment I hear more and more often.

I want to clarify, I’m not a miracle worker teacher – just an innovative one. As mentioned above, my first year of teaching was one in which I was learning to sink or swim through educational waters. Now that I have a good amount of tools and practice from teaching sixth grade for three and a half years by the time I’m writing this article, I have the flexibility to be truly innovative, to truly find ways to make content-learning engaging to middle years learners. Not an easy feat, not a perfect journey, but a fun path to keep learning along the way.

Parent tip: Innovation!

The book I’m currently reading for this program, The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity by George Couros, opens with a simple but direct quotation that I wanted to share with you.

“Once you stop learning, you start dying.” – Albert Einstein

Today’s tip is not about your relationship with your children, but about modeling the importance of always learning something new. Why do we even stop learning? Learning forces us to look deep at our beliefs and practices and could seriously shake walls and foundations we’ve built. Learning will always bring change of varying intensity. Change doesn’t always feel pleasant at the beginning – that’s why they’re called growing pains.

My personal journey with learning and change is through multiple intelligences. I’m aware that I am skilled with logical reasoning, rhythm and music, linguistic and verbal skills. These past two months I’ve been pushing myself to develop in areas that I have not been strong: visual arts and kinesthetic movement. It is not an easy change, but one that I know is worth it for my personal development.

Couros explains that change is simply an opportunity for great things to happen. Take these ideas to heart these next two weeks. What field are you going to focus your learning on? Where are great changes going to happen in your life?

Judianne Jayme is an educator teaching sixth grade and a division-wide mentor in the Winnipeg School Division.

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