The Path to Innovation is Full of Mistakes

in·no·va·tor

Noun

“a person who introduces new methods, ideas, or products”

As an educator, I believe it is critical to stay abreast of the tools that can be used to help connect with
students and engage them in learning.  I approach the world with a “what can I use” mindset and follow hashtags on twitter including #edtech and #iPaded.  I am willing to try new technologies to innovate in the classroom.

Anytime I try a new tool (app, website, strategy, etc.)  In the classroom, I am up front with my students.  I tell them that it is something new to me.  I tell them they are my “guinea pigs.” I advise them that I don’t have all the answers they might ask about how it works and they have the potential to become my teacher while using it.  I gauge their reactions to the tool and interaction with it and their classmates while using it.

The reality is that the path to innovation is filled with mistakes.  Not every tool I think has potential works the way I want it to. The success I read others having with it might not happen in my subject with my students.  What worked well on my computer at home might not work as well on the school computers or iPads.  Skills that I have acquired at my age which seem intuitive to use a tool might not be a skill my middle school students possess resulting in frustration for them.

When innovations fail, I have choices to make.  I can eliminate ever using the tool again.  I can adjust how I used it and try it again.  I can humble myself and reach out to the online networks I am part of, share my experience, and seek advice from others.

So why do I try if innovation comes with potential blunders?

  • To let my students know it’s okay to risk trying new things
  • If it works, the rewards and student engagement could be great
  • I want my students to see that I believe in the importance of lifelong learning.

What is an innovation you tried that didn’t go as well as expected?  What did you learn from it?