Written by Rachelle Wootten
What are the characteristics of an innovative educator?
Reflective – As an educator, it is important to reflect on what is working and what is not. Even though it can be a little uncomfortable, we have to admit when a great lesson was really a flop. We must constantly examine our processes and our concepts to make sure they are what is best for the students we teach.
Learners– An innovative educator is always learning, reading, listening. Every student, staff member, professional development opportunity is viewed as an opportunity to get better and be better in the classroom and in the education community at large. They create local and global professional learning communities. They take responsibility and initiative for their learning.
Creative– When I say creative I don’t mean in the sense of artistic even though some innovative educators fall in this category. I mean creative in their thinking and approach. An innovative educator is very uncomfortable with doing business as usual, especially when it yields no result. So they go to work brainstorming ways to make things better. They may change up a lesson to make it more engaging or increase student motivation. They may adopt a more unconventional approach to handling challenging students so as to develop a stronger rapport.
Connected– It’s hard to be classified as innovative when you are disconnected from your students and trends in the profession. How can you know what your students need and what will be the best approach to use with them if you are not connected to them personally? Innovative educators close the gap between the traditional images of teachers so he can determine what is best for each student. In addition, because they are life-long learners, they are abreast of changes occurring in their field and how to best apply these new changes to their instruction.
Collaborative– Education is one industry where sharing is necessary and vital to true innovation in the classroom. When teachers work together to solve problems and share successes, our students perform much better in the classroom. An innovative educator is always exploring topics with other educators, sharing what they know with others. They are members of Professional Learning Communities where they learn and share with others. They know that none of us is as smart as all of us.
Inquisitive– How can I improve? What did I do wrong? When is the best time for this approach? How should I adapt this for my struggling readers? What can I do to extend this lesson for my gifted students? What if I did it this way? Innovative educators are always asking questions. After all, it’s not about having all the answers; it’s about asking the right questions.
Principled– Innovative educators live life according to strong values. They want to make a difference. They believe that being an educator is a great way to make their mark in the world and they don’t take it for granted. They believe in being a role model to the students they serve and look for opportunities to show they care by their actions not just with words. They also care enough to make tough decisions even when it’s not popular and accepted. They stand up for their beliefs.