… Please insert here my usual apologies and weak excuses for not blogging recently …
I’m quite used to being the smartest Simon in the room. But then, I’m also, most often, the only Simon in the room! Recently however, I attended an exceptional seminar conducted by Simon Breakspear (@SimonBreakspear on Twitter) at Prince Alfred College. There were three Simons in the room that day and I have serious doubts that I even ranked number two in the “smart stakes.” Of course, I was easily the best looking! No … well, I was the oldest!
Simon’s chosen focus on the day was “Redesigning Teaching and Learning for Innovation.” He said so much that resonated with me that I know a short blog post will do him a great disservice. So, I’ve decided to focus upon just one aspect here. Simon (the smart one!) firmly believes that any effort to redesign a school must be guided by four key questions:
1. What can stay the same? 2. What should be removed? 3. What needs to be tweaked? 4. What needs to be radically redesigned?
I have long been frustrated with colleagues who seemingly don’t share my passion to harness the power of technologies to transform student learning. Then, Simon introduced the term radical incrementalism, a process of innovation that honours the past, and I had some form of an epiphany. Well, more of a recurrent epiphany. For too long I have wanted to change too much too quickly; and too often I forget this. (Have you ever seen too used four times in a single sentence?) Revolutionaries are rightly known for their passion and enthusiasm but these qualities can be counter-productive. As “Simon says” … JOIN THE EVOLUTION!
“Transformative practices need to be simple, reliable and effective. Don’t aim to change the ceiling until you have the foundation and floor in place.”
Now all I need to do is work out how I am going to re-imagine and re-design teacher professional development at my school so that we radically transform student learning, a little bit at a time. I just need to constantly remind myself to “Keep it simple, Simon.”