When we ask superintendents to nominate a principal for the Principals’ Institute, we ask for innovative leaders who are out-of-the-box thinkers who are willing to take risks, and we talk about the importance of thinking outside the box during the institute. However, those of you who follow George Couros and his blog, know that he talks about the need to stop trying to get people to think outside the box and, instead, teaching them how to innovative inside the box.
The box represents routine ideas and practices – the management of school. And, there are times when those things are important. There are times when a principal needs to manage something about school; times when doing something away from the routine practices would not be a good thing. It would be scary to move away from the box in some situations. The box keeps us safe, keeps us legal, keeps us consistent, when consistency is important; however, routine does not allow us to transform and be innovative. If you never venture outside the box, you will not be creative or innovative or successful at transforming learning.
Thinking outside the box provides opportunities to take risks and learn from your failures; to study and reflect and ask questions; to network and collaborate with colleagues; to not be ok with the status-quo; to be willing to share and communicate with others and learn from each other; and to have the courage to lead. Thinking outside the box allows you to create a new vision and bring people together around that new vision, and that’s where schools transforming learning are. Each of you is on that journey somewhere. You are making exceptional strides on your journey to provide innovative learning opportunities for students, because you are thinking outside the box. But great schools know that they cannot move completely away from the box – it wouldn’t be safe, it wouldn’t be good.
We are very excited to have recognized our first annual Schools Transforming Learning at the 2017 Principals’ Institute Summer Conference with a Symbol of Transformation. Each of the schools we recognized understands that balance. They know where the balance is, they know when they can think innovatively, and when they can be risk-takers. Each of these schools thinks outside the box, but functions inside the box…when the time is right. That is why the plate in the Symbol of Transformation is connected to the box, but is situated in a way to be outside the box, as well.
The Symbol of Transformation says the routines of the box are important, but thinking outside the box – that’s where innovation, creativity, inspiration, and transformation happen. That is where we become risk-takers; that is where we see students owning their learning, and becoming leaders in the classroom. That is where students have voice and choice, where there is time for reflection, where their learning is connected, and relevant, and engaging. That is where students become innovators, and critical thinkers; and not just problem solvers, but problem finders. That is where we watch the joy of learning happen for students and teachers!
Here’s to all of you who are transforming learning in your schools. You are all on the journey, being innovative and reflective and risk-takers. Here’s to all of you who are willing to see things differently, who are not just following the routine path. Here’s to all of you who are creating a new vision and bringing people together around that new vision.
The Apple video is a tribute to all of you who are transforming learning in your schools. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJ1SDXbij8Y
© Roz Keck and N2 Learning, L C, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to N2 Learning, L C with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.