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Innovation, Inspiration & Education

Innovation is happening every day and everywhere. Every educator is an innovator because innovation is about "Finding something new inside something known." (Junlei Li)

As educators, we all know that inspiration can come from unexpected places and at any time. Sometimes, it occurs in small pockets of time when we act spontaneously and allow ourselves to flow with the go. This concept was recently discussed at the Everyday Innovation in Early Education Leadership conference organized by the Zaentz Institute of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Our team learned that Innovation happens when people have the mindset to be aware of their own strengths and knowledge and act on what they notice in order to solve small or big problems by adjusting their practices and behaviors.

Have you ever heard of the iceberg analogy for innovation? Stephanie Jones and Nonie Lesaux cleverly remind us that innovation is like an iceberg - what's below the surface is just as important as what we see above it. Creating the right conditions to support innovation is key, and that includes building a culture of psychological safety.

When we prioritize building positive and stable relationships in our workplaces, we lay the groundwork for enabling innovation to flourish.

This means making sure everyone feels valued and respected, and encouraging open communication and collaboration. When we feel safe to take risks and share our ideas, we're more likely to come up with truly innovative solutions.

By focusing on creating the right conditions for innovation to thrive, we can set ourselves up for success and achieve truly impactful results. As Junlei Li astutely put it at the conference, innovation is about “ Finding something new inside something known”.

As teachers, we often have busy schedules and a lot of demands on our time. It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we need large blocks of uninterrupted time to be creative or come up with new ideas. However, the truth is that inspiration can occur in even the smallest of moments, if we allow ourselves to be open to it.

One of the best ways to tap into this kind of inspiration is to allow ourselves to be spontaneous and take risks. This means being open to new experiences and trying new things, even if they don't fit neatly into our schedules or plans. When we allow ourselves to be spontaneous, we create space for creativity and inspiration to flow. This also requires a certain amount of living in the moment in order to take notice of challenges or issues which resonate with us. This is an important first step before taking action.

The key is to be intentional about creating these pockets of time and to be open to whatever comes up during them. Even if we don't come up with any groundbreaking ideas during these moments, simply allowing ourselves to be open to inspiration can help us stay motivated and engaged in our work. Design thinking tools such as free association, going deep into the why of any problem or solution through multiple levels of questioning or simply using sticky notes to put all your ideas into one place can be a great way to amplify and work on what inspires us.

“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner—continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you—is a fine art, in and of itself.”

As teachers, we all want to inspire our students and create engaging learning experiences for them. But in order to do that, we need to be inspired ourselves. By allowing ourselves to be open to small moments of inspiration and plunging into the depths of that iceberg, we can tap into a whole new level of creativity. So go ahead, be spontaneous, and allow yourself to be inspired by the small moments.

P.S. We invite you to join us for a free Live Event on TeacherWit "Everyday Innovation, Everywhere by Everyone" on the 12th of May, 12:30 PST. This event will explore the theme of everyday innovation and offer practical strategies for finding inspiration and staying creative in our work as educators. We hope to see you there! Sign up here.


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