Over the last year or so, many teachers across the world were forced to innovate on the fly during the COVID pandemic. We did it with remote learning and were instantly thrown into the deep end of using technology to directly impact learning.

Reluctant teachers came face to face with having to learn many new skills and the pandemic brought with it uncertainty and challenges that took us out of our comfort zone. Some teachers who had embraced technology as a crucial tool to engage students, already knew the positive impact this new mode of learning would have on their students.

Blended learning and flexible schedules for students meant that teachers were forced to change their mindset about teaching and learning. No longer was learning contained in a classroom with the teacher directing everything. Learners were given more responsibility to manage their learning.

Now that schools are opening up again, we need to take a more bold and ambitious look at innovating the learning process. It’s a time when we can fundamentally rethink our accepted practices and develop 21st century solutions for an education system that fails many children.

Teachers, have an opportunity to be bottom-up innovators and make a difference in the lives of their students. We mean the sort of transformative innovation that challenges our assumptions about how we do things. We encourage developing creative approaches to problems by asking questions about the status quo, about accepted practice and about the prevailing ‘logic’ that permeates the system. As Hargreaves (2000) argues, “you cannot have innovation without creativity”, and creativity is not simply about incremental improvement, it is also a process which breaks down existing patterns of mind and develops new ways of doing and seeing things.

The challenge has been given to us!

Will school communities welcome students back to school with rows of desks, worksheets and outdated teaching methods and continue the cycle of inequity?

Will all the talk of ‘learning loss’ pressure teachers to focus on ‘catching up’ and will they ultimately fall back on what practices they used pre-pandemic?

This opportunity to build on the last year of experiences and to empower teachers to innovate in ‘disruptive’ or ‘radical’ ways may well challenge existing practice and lead to more transformational change.

The power of one – just one teacher can disrupt the accepted practice in a school. Who is up for the challenge?

Photo: @gapingvoid: https://www.gapingvoid.com/

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