Behind the drive for having the newest or coolest app or edtech tool is the same instinct that drives most good teachers: How can I do this better for my students?
Honestly, the most innovative thing I do is get out of their way.
My goal? Total invisibility. At least from an outside perspective.
The world has enough compliant factory workers.
So I don't "teach" much. I design series of repetitions on important concepts and give them feedback and reinforcement as they develop their knowledge and skills. I find amazing programs that can do something I would spend 50+ hours a week recreating, like Membean or Kahoot!. I use the best media from the best content creators in order to bring new perspectives into my classroom.
And I teach my students to do the same.
Here's an example.
Lots of teachers would labour for hours putting together a document with a table that compares all the world religions. Or they would spend hours finding the best one on the internet. But why do something I could outsource to my students, who have 50 times the manpower and need the practice anyway?
So I have my STUDENTS find it. They evaluate five examples, then choose three to analyse, and share with their group. Then they share the very best with the class. How many repetitions about the facets of major world religions do they get from that one activity? Dozens.
The result is that I can spend that time NOT WORKING and my students are learning FAR MORE than in a traditional class. I know it might seem crazy to think that a teacher, particularly an English teacher, could have work-life balance during the school year, but it is possible.
That's the real innovation, honestly. I do work hard, and give my students lots of feedback, but I also ask a lot of them. They find and curate content. They share their learning in a variety of ways. They show me tricks I didn't know.
It creates a classroom that is really a circle of innovation. I open up their horizons by pushing them to do school differently, and in response, they teach me what they've learned by doing that.
I see it whenever anyone has a technology issue in class. Lately, google search isn't working for certain students. IT says it has something to do with the network filter, and they can't figure out why it happens.
It was my class who alerted them to it happening. Twice.
When a student has a technology problem, they rarely come to me anymore. They announce their issue, and there are always kids who say, "I know how to fix that!" and go fix it. There are other kids who lean in to watch. It's flexible intelligence, and I can almost see their brains connecting and building synapses with all the new information.
Every teacher wants to prepare their students for whatever comes next, and honestly, I think that very thing is what will prepare my students for the next level of their education. They are able to troubleshoot without an adult. There are lots of times I didn't even know someone had an issue because their peers helped them solve it so quickly!
They are making me invisible.
Just like I planned.