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Innovation in schools is an extremely hot topic today. We use this word to define any experience that students have that is transformational, digitally rich, or simply a best practice. Incorporating any of these into any classroom instantly transforms your classroom. We all want to host this environment in our classrooms, and it is easier to do than you think.

More often than not, a roadblock to innovation is permission. Teachers are afraid to ask if they can change what they are doing, or have been told "no" (I hope this never happens). I can tell you for a fact, any administrator would be foolish to stifle a teacher who wants to integrate more technology, or incorporate best practices. If you have the will to change your classroom, you have to have the will to ask if you can do it! If you want to change and haven't asked, the only person to blame is yourself.

So, you're willing to ask for permission, what else do you need to be innovative?

This is my favorite element because it shows the true colors of the teacher. Innovation is found at the junction of creative ideas, and standard alignment. Obviously, the time you spend in your classroom should be mapped back to standards, and there are some very interesting ways that I have seen teachers make connections. Some of the best classrooms make connections between subjects, strands, and grade levels! Letting your best ideas drive the learning happening in your classroom will not only inspire you, but it will engage your students like never before.

Innovation is not easy. Sometime it will naturally come out of what you are doing, but most of the time, it is hard. There is not a user guide, or a textbook that walks your students through this, you need to build it on your own. Some think of this as a challenge, and a goal that will set them apart from their peers. Taking the time to learn, build, and archive your work will pay 10 fold in the long run!

I am not talking about just technology. To be innovative, you need to use the skills that you are best at. If you are a great science teacher, innovating with a STEM mindset may be a good idea. If you are a technology savvy teacher, created a blended classroom may be your avenue. Search your skill set and find those that highlight you as an educator. Once you find them, channel them to the forefront and use them to fundamentally shift your students educational experience.