"So what innovative initiatives is your school undertaking?"
I was recently asked the above question by a fellow educator.
This caused me to pause. I rambled a few things off. But to be honest, the questions threw me off.
It made me uneasy. What follows are some thoughts, ramblings and questions regarding innovation, autonomy and leadership ego.
Are we searching for "innovation" for innovation's sake?
I often wonder about school wide "innovations". What is driving the innovation? What are the precursors to implementation? Who do the innovations benefit the most?
Why are we doing what we are doing?
Are we driven by a greater purpose? Our mission? Our vision?
It is really about innovation? Is it rooted in student learning?
Is the innovation about creating engaging learning experiences for students?
Is the innovation about creating learning conditions that are motivating for students?
Is innovation about creating an environment where every student feels connected and safe?
I'm aware that, when it comes to being the "leader" at my school, it is about checking by ego at the door.
What is best, easy, comfortable, familiar or trendy for me, may not be what is best for the students and school community.
As principal, I need to give up my need to be "relevant" for the sake of being "irrelevant" if it means doing what is best for students. As Henri Nouwen writes:
"The leaders of the future will be those who dare to claim their irrelevance in the contemporary world as a divine vocation..."I would suggest that innovation driven by personality and ego is toxic and doomed to be unsustainable.
Autonomy & Innovation
I also wonder about the place of autonomy (student & teacher) when it comes to innovation. I agree that motivation is rooted in autonomy. But can there be too much autonomy?
I like the image of a river flowing. A river is free to flow and meander. However, the river is given its shape and direction by its banks. Without the banks, the river becomes a puddle or lake.
What is the role of leadership in providing the "banks of a river"? In my opinion, this is a critical aspect of leadership - to provide the delicate balance of enough autonomy within an agreed up "preferred future".
The bottom line is that innovation and autonomy needs to be rooted in what is best for students and their individual success.
Still figuring it out.....any thoughts?