The Struggle of Innovation is Real

There are many reasons that a great idea can fail. A budding entrepreneur develops his or her pitch knowing the presentation will lead to the ultimate success or failure of the innovation being sold. Because even if the innovation has the ability to transcend standards set by previous sustaining innovations, if the users cannot comprehend the ability, then the innovation will not take hold and fail. My challenge to develop an innovation that would create positive impact within my organization allowed me the opportunity to electrify the current evolution of my school’s culture. This opportunity has not been squandered, although it has taken a number of detours. I found that when I unveiled my innovation plan without the proper amount of evidence and structure, I unintentionally set my project back months and possibly years. By displaying an incomplete plan without first developing evidence of success on my own, I alienated teachers that were not familiar with blended learning and I disappointed teachers that were familiar with blended learning. This negative reaction to my innovation plan does not hurt the integrity of the plan, but it does hurt the plan’s ability to succeed within my organization. A successful ICT project owes its entire life to the entity that takes the project on as its own. My ICT plan to bring the station rotation model of blended learning into my organization depends solely on my ability to motivate a vast majority of my peers to implement the model within their classrooms in an attempt to create one cohesive culture aiming at providing students an education for the 21st century.

Originally, the vision of implementing the station rotation model centered around using ICT to promote student growth. In an area that is populated primarily by youth that will need to live autonomously before they leave their teenage years, my school focuses on providing students opportunities to demonstrate skills necessary for such a lifestyle. The students at my school will be able to use ICT through the use of the station rotation model to promote ownership of education and ultimately, ownership of life. The realization of opportunity to use ICT to assist my students in their growth as positive citizens became the catalyst to develop my plan to use the station rotation model of blended learning.

The preemptive strike I took to share my innovation plan cost me credibility and time. My twenty-six-year-old ego knew that I had found the key to success for our school. I was fresh into my graduate program, and I was immersing myself in research that struck every nerve on its way to the heart of why I became a teacher. I read the material, identified the problems that I wanted to solve, determined possible routes to success, and envisioned a map of actions that would bring my organization to succeed in creating a strong, positive school culture that prepared our youth for life in the 21st century. What I didn’t do was pilot the station rotation model within my classroom to demonstrate why and how the model succeeds. I brought an idea to my peers that had little to no background knowledge of the subject and expected them to climb on board blindly. Had I taken the time to run a pilot of the model within my classroom, I would have discovered my entire plan’s timeline needed a serious revising.

On top of introducing my plan too soon, I introduced an unattainable goal to an apathetic audience. My inexperience as teacher comes through loud and clear with this mistake. My audience remained unconsidered until after the introduction of the plan. I assumed that ideas provided were judged on their merit and those with the highest merit would take hold. This assumption proves false due to the human nature to fear the unknown. The teachers that had limited knowledge of blended learning were suddenly being posed to implement concepts and pedagogy that they had neither researched properly nor planned and practiced. Of course they shirked at the idea of being asked to make immediate changes to their practices. I needed to provide opportunities for effective professional learning to take place.

My accidental discovery of the deep need for effective professional learning in my organization forced me to reevaluate the steps of my plan and the timespan allotted to each step. There were new steps that had to be taken. My colleagues displayed interest in the plan through questions and criticisms. I had the door cracked open. I took this opportunity to insert a professional learning option into the timeslot open due to our organization’s early-release Wednesday schedule. Teachers may use the time between 2:15 and 3:30 to collaborate with peers, attend professional learning breakout sessions, or take dents out of the daily workload of a classroom teacher. Beginning in the fall semester of the 2017-2018 school year, I hope to be instructing teachers on a variety of blended models of learning and observing those teachers implement the learned strategies within their classrooms. This optional professional learning will eventually be proposed to hold the primary focus of mandatory professional learning within the organization. With my teachers gaining new perspective and practice on blended learning, my innovation plan to implement the station rotation model of blended learning will push open the cracked door and proudly walk into the center of the room.

My rush to change has left me with hungry with an overflowing plate. Promoting and producing my optional professional development will serve as the first few bites of my meal, but I will need to consistently and urgently refill my spoon to clear my plate. Effective professional learning demands an on-going process that is reinforced through deliberate and extensive practice. It is possible that my professional learning plan may not become the focal point of my organization’s professional learning plan for multiple years. Until then, my cliental will be composed of teachers that volunteer to engage in my weekly professional learning and offer their classroom to be observed. These early adopters have the ability to help promote my professional learning and innovation plan, but until the early majority buys in, my innovation plan will have to wait. My responsibility to pilot the station rotation model within my own classroom weighs heavy on my shoulders. Teachers want to see success before attempting to adopt new strategies. My pilot will serve as that success and as personal practice needed to effectively coach my peers.