Innovation to Become a 21st Century IB School: An Introduction

What does it mean when we say that Lanier is committed to innovation that moves us toward learner driven teaching and an innovative learning environment? Innovation, by definition, is applying ideas and processes differently. At our IB campus, we have a long-standing tradition of design thinking and a design cycle to empower our learners to develop the characteristics of an IB learner on the road to becoming global citizens.

Innovation is challenging and not for the faint of heart! LOL. As an experienced professional, I know that to lead substantive, sustainable change, all members of the community must buy in and have ownership of the change, and for schools, this means teachers, students, parents, and community members. While interviewing for the principal of Lanier, I was intrigued by the opportunity that Lanier presented. By developing innovative practices that serve 21stcentury learners with integrity and that are scalable across this large district, an equitable learning environment exists for all of our students. My first task was to dialogue with the faculty on the powerful opportunities possible for this renowned middle school. The enthusiasm and excitement shared was heart-warming!

Lanier is regularly applauded for a job well done.  We are a unique learning community that reflects the diversity of Houston and are not content to rest on our reputation. We are committed to using our strengths as an example of innovation throughout the district. Our faculty is enthusiastic about developing a practice-based proposal to move forward, leading the way to a learner-driven, 21stCentury model of education that serves our students and honors the rich tradition of International Baccalaureate.

To set the leading edge for IB schools, we need to incorporate professional development that goes beyond the traditional “sit and get.”  Sadly, the evidence is overwhelming that this form of professional development does nothing to enhance the learning of students. When I arrived at Lanier, faculty feedback echoed the research that they learn best in their own, complex context of their classroom. It is fun to note that this lack of effectiveness of lecture is consistent with young learners as well. Engagement  is central to all meaningful learning among humans, regardless of age.

Engagement, innovation,  and evidence-based learning lead to professional development brought into our context. When it comes to being learner-driven, our faculty have little experience. The research is clear that learners benefit from models, regardless of the age of the learner. Accordingly, I began to work on a plan that centered on teachers-as-learners driving their own learning, so they have a visceral experience of this to inform the learning opportunities they structure for our students.

In the next post, I will share some of our new teachers’ thoughts regarding our plans for professional development and the innovation that we intend to fuel at Lanier. Then, I will walk through more details of the plan, as it currently exists, in subsequent posts in the coming days. Our team embraces the dynamic nature of teaching and learning, so we do intend to adapt our plans as we learn, while staying within the budget, to model flexibility and best serve our learning community.

Fair warning: these posts are densely packed with details, and hope that you can wade through them to see how dynamic and complex this wonderful work is. Please reach out to dialogue about any and all aspects that are of interest to you

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