Thursday, 28 September 2017

Innovation Battles Adversity

#IMMOOC Season 3, Week 1 Blog

As part of the Innovator's Mindset IMMOOC this week, we were asked by @gcouros write a blog responding to two prompts: 1.  Why is innovation in education so crucial today? &
2. Talk about a time you dealt with adversity in education, and how you overcame it.  

I've spent most of my 20 plus years in the classroom as a Special Education Teacher.  In that time, I've seen students struggling with adversity that I cannot even imagine.  Physical disabilities, Developmental Delays, Learning Disabilities, Poverty, Brain Illness, Families in crisis, Low Self Esteem, Severe Anxiety and problems and issues that certainly never came up as part of my Teacher Training.  I've faced adversity in my own life, but the problems I've faced from time to time often seem so trivial compared to what my Students deal with daily.

I know that for some students, school is a safe haven, a place away from the chaos of their lives, and for others, school is a hell that they just try to survive.  I've always tried to make sure that my classroom was the first and not the second.  I work hard to build relationships with them, to help them see their potential, develop a Growth Mindset and find their passions. In my own way, I try to be like Dave Burgess writes in Teach Like a Pirate, to have them "knocking down the classroom doors to get in."  Like a chameleon, I've constantly modified my methods and my practice to meet the needs of the kids in my room.  To paraphrase George Couros in the Introduction... "What I care about is that kids are inspired to be better people because of their experiences in my [classroom]."  

So, for me, through my Special Education lens, Innovation has been a way to overcome adversity.  It's a way to level the playing field of roadblocks thrown in the way of my students. Wether it's technology like Speech to Text, that allows them to get their thoughts down on paper in a way that a Learning Disability kept them from doing in traditional assignments; or a Passion Project that has them fully engaged in their own learning; or completing a video to avoid the crushing anxiety that live presentation might's breaking the barriers that once held them back. 

That said, I don't want to even pretend that my classroom is full of unicorns and rainbows.  I've had failures.  I've tried things that crashed and burned.  I've had students that I've been unable to reach or help.  These break my heart and challenge my spirit.  But, I keep trying.  I keep learning.  I try to stay focused on the success my students have found, and I keep looking for that next innovation that will battle the dragon they have to face.


  1. Just wanted to say that I love your blog title - It's fun to realize it is our circus...and they are our monkeys! And yes, it's also good to acknowledge that somethings will fail, but we have to continue on because there will always be another dragon out there somewhere :-)

    1. Thanks Theresa. I recognized early on that I am running this circus...good or bad, fail or succeed! Appreciate you taking time to read about it!