A colleague recently forwarded me information about NEA grants for teachers. The application declares that “[w]e support new ideas and practices to strengthen teaching and learning. Our goal is to fund and share successful strategies to educate and prepare students for bright and rewarding futures.” If you know a teacher from your home district who has made a difference in your life, please share the link.
I’d also like you to ponder this: how strongly should we associate “innovation” and education? I’m genuinely curious. It seems to me that many of the things that prove especially enriching involve classroom practices that have been around since Socrates. The content has changed, but the teaching practices have not. I have tried new teaching practices from time to time; sometimes they don’t align with my goals, sometimes they do. I don’t like group work, for instance, because it’s harder to assess fairly, and because some go-getter always does too much of the work. Yet I am also eager to incorporate new content into courses; nor do I mind allowing students to read work from screens rather than dead trees when it’s convenient for them.
Perhaps I would rewrite the application to encourage teachers to make classroom practices relevant rather than “new.” The two aren’t necessarily the same.