1 thing we can do.
Innovation and data-driven, could there be two more over-used terms in our profession? Having said that, these two words, if done correctly, can be part of one of the biggest contribution leaders can make to their schools.
From time to time, my work can become overwhelming. Balancing the management aspects of my job, along with scheduling challenges, logistics, and the other demands placed on me can sometimes leaves me wondering “beyond building strong relationships, what is one thing I can do that will matter? Where can I make my mark?” I value the bonds I have with members of our staff, our students, and our parents, but should I be seeking to do more? Are these relationships a means to an end, or are they all there is?
The more I thought about those questions, I realized the most significant thing move I can make (aside from building strong relationships) is to start conversations about what constitutes high quality data, work to gather that data, then empower staff to use that data to innovate.
I was talking with a friend of mine who works in the private sector recently, and our topic came around to the term “innovation.” My friend, who has come up with several new concepts for his business said that his new ideas come from the process of “looking at data, finding margins or gaps that are not being filled, then thinking about how to address those areas.”
Building relationships must be our top job, but once those relationships are strong, then what? Our schools must be more than places where adults care for one another and throw a fun gathering. Strong relationships build the trust that serves as the “shell” for real conversations about meaningful data to occur, which will show the gaps for teachers to address with their innovations. This approach makes teachers “researchers and learners” and goes a long way to professionalize our work.
I’m fascinated by the notion of the intrapreneurs and the teacherpreneurs. Developing professionals who initiate creative ideas, are leaders, and drive policy from within our organization is the strongest teacher induction/retention program schools can offer. These opportunities, which we must look to create will make our school a workplace that is not only comfortable, but offers the chance to contribute significantly.
We talk about being “data-driven” ad naseum. However, are we? Do we collect high quality data, analyze it, and then innovate because of it? Finding the key to unlocking this door is 1 thing we can do, beyond building relationships, to really improve education.