Today, we hear increasingly of the need for innovation in our classrooms. But what does it mean to innovate? Do the students innovate, or do I? Do I incorporate innovations into my lessons, or provide students with the means and opportunities to innovate? Where is the innovation switch that I can press and turn on?
First of all, I believe that science teachers are the best equipped to innovate and incorporate innovations into our curriculum. The nature of our subjects, be it biology, chemistry or physics, link to inventions happening in 2017 and have direct ties to teachable classroom material. Whether it is a new treatment for cancer, new synthetic biopolymers, or nano robots, we can highlight these new technologies to our students as a means to increase relevancy and interest for students.
Two obstacles stand in the way of innovation: time and inertia. Between classroom time, supervision, extra-curricular activities, grades and lab preparation, who has time to recreate the wheel? A body at rest tends to stay at rest. Change is unnatural and requires effort.
So this begs the question: Why Innovate in the Classroom? Because impressionable eyes are watching. If we are always using the same examples for content relevance, we will eventually fall into the trap of becoming irrelevant. If we always stick with traditional teaching methodologies, innovation isn’t modelled for our students. By integrating interdisciplinary technologies, we have the opportunity to meet a variety of standards while engaging students in active learning. Projects that challenge students to take risks and apply their learning shifts our role from the teacher to the facilitator.
I challenge you to innovate in the new year. The Lead Teacher team and I are happy to share our experiences and discuss your ideas for project based learning. Become a part of the learning process by setting a great example for your students and modeling authentic experimentation. It will open the door to creative problem solving and ignite their passion for science!