Pennsylvania administrator says meaningful innovation requires sky-high goals
- Garnet Valley School District (PA) Director of Technology, Innovation, and Online Learning Samuel Mormando writes for eSchool News that not enough districts and schools are taking "moonshots" — in other words, aiming to improve by 10x or better by setting sky-high standards and goals.
- Moonshots are necessary to overcome the hindrances of sub-par policies, expensive textbooks and resources, and the traditionally slow pace of change in education, Mormando writes, noting that his medium-sized district has seen impressive results with no increases to the budget over the past several years.
- To employ moonshot thinking, Mormando suggests that districts assemble a team, figure out where they are, decide what goal they want to reach, acknowledge obstacles without "admiring" them, and put deadlines in place.
For Garnet Valley, the results brought about by moonshot thinking include purposeful access to tech for all teachers and students; redesigned libraries, labs and makerspaces; deep, personalized professional development; the replacement of an outdated student information system; a redoubling of infrastructure to provide reliable and secure web access; and full ownership and personalization of curriculum by teachers with open educational resources. In late October, Education Dive had a chance to see some of these results firsthand, including a vocational special education program and one of the redesigned makerspaces.
For districts looking to take similar moonshots, it's also worth noting that teachers are often a school system's largest untapped innovation engines. As Gwinnett County Public Schools Teacher of the Year Valerie Lewis told a packed session at SXSWedu last year, "If we’re bored to death, we’re not giving our kids the best of us."
Panelists at that event also noted that innovation depends on having "rockstar" building leaders, giving teachers the freedom to experiment with new ways of teaching, and implementing personalized professional development options. Lewis, for example, has created a living museum for Black History Month and an "American Ninja Warrior" inspired "Ed Obstacles" activity.
- eSchool News There are not enough moonshots taken in education
Follow Roger Riddell on Twitter