A few weeks ago I put out a request to friends for ideas, thoughts, and questions which my colleagues are kicking around in their respective corners of the educational world. Instead of only attending to my interests, needs, and passions, I want to learn what other people are grappling with and to see if I can help. The reason for this is twofold: 1) I want to broaden my awareness of contemporary topics in education; and 2) to incorporate my perspective into those other topics in which I find interest.

I chose to frame these discussions around my students, specifically looking at four words: teaching, innovation, creativity, and learning. To best meet the learning needs of our students, we need to employ proven teaching practices and to be cognizant of the changing dynamics in our schools and communities – which force the creative application of teaching techniques, existing and innovative.

So today, we have the first of my “Ask a colleague” blog posts – this one features Mike Pizzi, Vice Principal of Henry G Izatt Middle School, Winnipeg, MB. I asked Mike about how he perceives the words teaching, innovation, creativity, and learning in evolving contexts – that is, how are situations or experiences challenging our understanding of these four words?

His response was:

I’m thinking that in education, these words are verbs that together define something bigger. Evolving contexts for schooling will always leave the process of defining these words an engaging exercise due to the discrepancy in their meaning from one person/context to the next, but I’m learning that people (not just educators) know when an experience is right so let’s start sharing the new stories. ‘What did you do at school today?’ is a question that has been asked for generations. If that continues we will know that we’re not getting it right. Sharing new stories of meaningful and relevant experience in a child’s education means that innovation, creativity, teaching and learning are taking place in a modern context. Stories emerge from engaged kids, an engaged community, and new technologies that can share video / images / audio / created content in real time.

Sharing stories of meaningful and relevant educational experiences is a good start… from these stories, we can learn elements of innovative/creative learning and teaching. As with most stories we hear – we’ll take what works best for ourselves, add our own “spin” to them, and create new learning experiences for our students.

Where do your good ideas come from? How are you meeting the learning needs of your students? What innovations in teaching are needed? Other than sharing stories, of stumbling over these creative and engaging activities, how do we identify the learning needs of our students?