1) What is an example of a practice that you consider to be innovative? How is it new or better than what you had before?
From reading the book and having had conversations a practice that I consider to be innovative would be communicating with classrooms outside the building. Students in my math classroom could talk to a math classroom at a different school in our district, city, state, or even country. It could allow for students to think outside the box, open their eyes to what else is out in the "real world", and creates another path of learning. (If you are interested in trying this with me LET ME KNOW!!!)
2) How might you create an environment that fosters risk-taking?
A wonderful idea brought up by Vanguard is our #VanTasy so I will begin my risk taking classroom with alternative seating (stay posted for pictures late August/early September). By beginning the school year with this type of seating students will immediately know this is not the typical mathematics classroom; it is a place where they can come and try something new without the fear of failing!
3)How do you build relationships with individuals in your district, school, and classroom?
Relationships are described by Couros as a foundation in teaching. I completely agree, which is why answering this question was the easiest! I begin building relationships at the door; not a single student walks in without shaking my hand. It's a small gesture that goes a long way. As a middle school teacher I have multiple classes with many many students this allows for at least a couple of seconds to interact with each and every student that step into my classroom.
4) Which characteristic of the innovative leader do you consider personal strengths? In which areas do you need to grow?
Always being focused on relationships would be my number one strength. I am a firm believer that if you do not create relationships with your students their willingness to work will be a struggle. If this becomes the case they will not learn to their maximum potential. Relationships are also a huge part of your network; the more welcoming you are as a person the more people want to collaborate. Through collaboration you expand as a teacher which then helps the students in your classroom. Being an open risk taker would be the area I want to continue growing in which is one of the reasons why I am extremely excited to have been accepted into Vanguard where I am able to do just that.
5)How do we create learning opportunities and experiences for students and staff that focus on empowerment, as opposed to engagement?
I first answer this by starting with a question: Do you as an educator or learner know what different careers expect from their employees? I went to school for education so I know many expectations needed for my career but I can't say I know the specifics for nurses, mechanical engineers, information security analyst, or the future jobs that we don't even know about yet. The first step to creating learning opportunities is learning students interests, specifically learning what career they could be in with these interests, and create experiences from those many careers. This would also require learning what those careers expect.
6) How do you model and explore new opportunities for learning in your own practice?
You must first create goals for yourself as a teacher at the beginning of the summer. I try to keep between 2-3 goals which at the moment are: creating an innovative classroom through alternative seating, creating an innovative classroom through technology, and incorporating ELL strategies into my math classroom. By setting these goals at the beginning of the summer you are able to find professional development specifically helping these goals. You can then start creating what it is that you need to start the year of right. You also need to be sure to stick with your goals and continue to implement and model all through out the school year.
7)What are the key areas that you and your community can focus on to bring your vision closer to reality?
The technology piece in which we are sharing our ides would be one of the most important area to focus on. Being a part of Vanguard we are already beginning to focus on this area because we were chosen from varying grade levels and varying schools across the district.
This enhances our thinking and innovation because we can think outside just our school/classroom.
8) What are some of the questions you would ask students to learn more about their learning and experience in schools?
I have actually given my students a survey to rank where they feel they are in my class with questions like: "Do you feel comfortable/welcomed when you come to this class?" or "Which concept did you feel you learned the most and why?"
The recommendation I give is to be specific with questions so that you get back the best feedback. I have usually given this mid year but I am going to try and do it at the end of each grading period so that it is something I can reflect and consider through out the school year.