• Susan Hefley

Inspiring Innovation

I am blessed to have the best job. I am a Media Resource Specialist in a K-5 school where I have a flex schedule, a full time aide and amazing administrative and district support for all that I do. That has made it much easier for me to spread my wings and take chances with innovative ideas. I even asked to bring a puppy to school (I was a volunteer puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence) and had support to explore how this could be a win-win situation for myself, the dog/organization and our students. I no longer hesitate to think about what if, why and why not----- if I think these questions can benefit our students and staff. My current dilemma is determining how to ask teachers to be more innovative, especially using technology, knowing that they are facing more challenges and limitations.

In this effort I am trying three big things: number one is simply sharing my goals with all teachers. I strive to find ways where not only can I meet my own goals but help teachers at the same time, seeking that inside the box win-win solution the models innovation. My second effort is finding and recognizing those teachers who are modeling innovation themselves, especially using technology. I created the #MalvernPRIDE award to recognize some of the awesome work that is going on in our classrooms using technology. Many, if not most, of our teachers do this so picking a winner to recognize was not easy. In the end I decided to go with evidence. Who was Tweeting about the great things in their classroom, #MalvernPRIDE? Unfortunately that criteria did not work, so I went to who was Tweeting. Winners are recognized in our monthly A-Team newsletter and rewarded with Sonic drinks for their entire team.

My third endeavor is the one I am most hopeful about. the Power Up Badge. I created weekly "badges" or mini-lessons for students with topics surrounding technology use and most especially Digital Citizenship and Leadership. I visit our flex spaces and invite classes to come to me for these lessons where they will leave with a "badge" (sticker) for their Leadership notebooks. Not all classes can make it during the time offered so I send the lessons to teachers who present them to students at their convenience, often during morning Community Circle time. The Power Up badge is one that is designed mostly at the TEACHER with student cooperation and game-ifies their digital learning environment. My goal is to encourage teachers to go beyond simply using tools like Google Classroom and Seesaw to communicate with students but to use them in innovative ways to extend the walls of their classroom. We have a pretty competitive staff who love a good idea so I am hopeful that this might work and I look forward to trying!

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