Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 8.48.29 AMOur last newsletter this year for Learning Forward Ontario ( will be out shortly and I was putting some thoughts together for my President’s Message and landed on the words “innovation” and “adaptability”.  This time around, I focused on the importance of professional learning cultures that foster innovation.  Here is an excerpt from the newsletter.

No-one changes unless they, themselves, see a need for change. Unless people understand how future trends impact their organisations and communities, they will maintain their traditional behaviours, attitudes and action. The objective is to help others become familiar with the need to develop a futures context within which to think about issues (Levine and Smyre 2012)  

As you reflect on your work this year in your schools and districts, I would like you to think about your professional learning culture and the importance of fostering innovation. I realize that innovation has become a buzzword – and can mean different things to different people. However, the key characteristics of innovation include partnerships and collaboration at all levels, user-centeredness, exploiting technology’s potential, networking opportunities and the empowerment of communities.

Innovation is the act of introducing something new and to be effective, it has to be simple and focused. It is not just generating ideas but executing them to create value. School and system leaders model innovative practices in their approach to leadership. The new practices are identified through an established cycle of reflections and evaluations. It’s not about jumping on a bandwagon with the latest practice but rather a thoughtful response to the rapid changes in our society. Innovation emerges over time meaning we have enough time to not just manage problems but time to solve them.

How does your school or district encourage innovation? Is it seen as important collectively? Do you as a leader and your leaders actively encourage creative thought and practices? Are teachers exposed to changes in practices that could enhance, or address barriers to achieving student outcomes? Does the professional learning address future as well as current challenges?

Professional learning should involve new and emerging practices and the sharing of ideas with other communities. Our Learning Forward Ontario team will continue to encourage innovation in practice and offer events and resources that help you better understand national and international education trends.