We can’t ask teachers to be innovative in their practice while administrators do the same thing they have always done. I have noticed that the schools where teachers are doing incredible things have leadership that innovates inside the box. They do not just encourage different thinking and action, but they model it through their own process in supporting teachers within the constraints of the system.
I wrote this in response to a great post by George Couros today. Goerge does challenge and he asks questions that are difficult to answer. His post prompted me to respond on his blog. I have written an extended response below.
Yes, your ideas make a great deal of sense. It seems to me that there is a creativity barrier in education. We want our teachers to be creative, we want them to empower students and we want an engaging learning environment.
However, when we pass over the Rubicon into administration, we mostly value compliance. You are now an ‘officer of the board’ whatever that means and what is most valued is your ability to do what the senior admin wants to be done, sometimes at the risk of suppressing the creativity of staff members.
Creativity can be a liability. In administrators, it is seldom valued and to remain creative is a risk that sometimes will lead to disapproval or even sanction.
This is a big problem in our education system, one that I don’t know how we will break out of. How can a system that devalues innovation survive?
Every day I see creative work being done and shared by educators. But not from administrators. Their voice is more muted and their contributions often fall into the category of ‘cheerleading’. This is a shame because administrators can be innovative too.
Maybe they are at their best when as George Couros writes, they are supporting the innovative efforts of others. Is that the best that we can do?
There seems to be a great shift that that takes place when we become school administrators. We enter a world where compliance is the main value. To question and to innovate is not acceptable and is seen as risky.
Thanks to George Couros for writing this piece. It takes courage to question the status quo and I appreciate his efforts to do this. I really think we need more educators with the ability to call into question some of the failings of our public education system.
How can we ever have an honest public debate about the quality of public education if many of the main actors feel that they play no role in commenting and questioning how we are educating our children in 2018?
If not us, who are we leaving this to?