Innovation or “Going Rogue”…

Recently, I have found myself and have heard others using the phrase “going rogue” (and not meaning the lovely Nissan SUV) to describe, with negative connotation, people who are going out on their own, who are not sticking within the “box”, and who are sharing their perspectives with others.

   image rogue


There are many definitions of the term “rogue” however generally it is defined as someone who is no longer obedient or controllable…a renegade of sorts.  In conversation with Stacey, a valued colleague who is a deep thinker, we began to explore the implications of this phrase. We began to wonder, in this age of innovation, creativity and learning, if “going rogue” is really an action to be viewed negatively.  When we are asking educators to engage in a culture of learning, is “going rogue” a signal that they are curious problem solvers who are exploring new ideas and trying new things out in response to identified needs…and perhaps then, being agents of change?

image curiousity

Innovation is a significant concept that we are hearing daily in the educational environment of the Ontario context.  I am just beginning to deeply explore this, however am learning that it is more than the action of trying new things and measuring their impact on student learning (is it significant?), it is a mindset that all educators need to have.

image innovation

The notion of “new and better” ideas is where I am seeing the challenge – while we say that we want everyone to engage in learning (our College of Teachers Standards of Practice are clear on this) do we welcome the new ideas that result from the learning or do we view them as a threat? To be in a mindset of innovation means that you welcome change in an ongoing way – that you don’t feel intimidated by the notion that others may have new ideas that you have not yet thought of.  It means that you are okay with learning and with the change that comes when we respond to new learning.  For many, change (as we have thought about through previous blogs) is a complex concept, however we know simply that it is very difficult for many. Perhaps we are not yet ready for the change?  Perhaps we are having difficulty with our own innovator’s mindset and are feeling like we are “falling behind”. Or, perhaps the innovation does not fit into “the plan”. Regardless, each of us need to analyze the “why” as awareness is key to change.

image leadership innovation

The caution remains, however, as we were reminded yesterday at a learning session with Mary Jean Gallagher, the Assistant Deputy Minister, Student Achievement Division, that while innovation is positive, we must relentlessly analyze and determine the impact of the apparent innovation on the learners who we are influencing.  We should not be innovating for the sake of innovating – it is about student learning and achievement.

Technology is a tremendous context as we continue to explore innovative ways to incorporate technology as a learning tool into our classrooms and leadership.  This was the foundation of the conversation with Stacey last week and her reflective thoughts are captured below:

Going rogue can bring about great change but the connotation that was associated with its use was not positive…I think that we need to re-define “rogue”! When the word “rogue” is used to define the steps we are taking to meet the needs of all learners, I think we should respond with “not rogue, responsive”! We are being responsive and that is a much more positive frame of mind.” (email communication from Stacey).

image final

As we aim to “practice what we preach” I am becoming increasingly aware of the need to ensure that our actions/behaviour don’t actually send a contradictory message (and because we are still “practicing” this is very difficult as it is not yet permanently learned…its not yet part of our natural behaviour).  I am now also thinking of the need to ensure that our choice of language does not, in fact, discourage the culture of learning that we are endeavoring to create.  This culture of learning is grounded in deep thinking and the analysis of impact – being motivated by doing what is proven to be best for learners. If we hold ourselves to these pieces and ensure that we are transparent in our communication, I think that we may be able to alter the negative connotations that are associated with “going rogue”.

Until next week…how are you measuring the impact of your innovative ideas on learning?

5 responses

  1. Valuable posts. From tweets and blog sounds like lots of learning to think about. I think about my own learning. What I value the most is being able to embarck on the learning journey with others! Whether it is a sport’s team or a business team, the value comes from working in collaboration. Mulling over those out side the box ideas. I do think we need to be in tune with the learning environment for both our teachers and students. It goes back to our examination of “strength based”. We all bring different things to the learning table. I think bringing those rogue ideas forward- be responsive. It really becomes about the synthesis of what comes forward and how the learner responds. Is it supporting the critical thinking- those higher order skills? Looking forward to following further dialogue about innovation or going rogue!


  2. I like how you put a positive spin on going rogue. The notion that comes to my mind with that word is the negative notion of untrustworthy or dishonest that is hard to swallow, because it makes me think of someone who is purposefully going against in order to prove a point. But the positive spin could signal that they are a curious agent of change, and also would fit with our condition of risk-taking.

    In the work that we do, new learning is key to helping us move forward, and I think, often people do go out on their own, and whether it is to purposefully go against or to follow a passion, if they are then able to come back and share where there interests have led them, it is these conversations that could then lead to innovation. They type of innovation, that as you speak of, when it is analyzed and shared causes deep reflection.

    Your questions of “how are you measuring the impact of your innovative ideas on learning?” made me think about the notion that innovation is a process and that it is best measured through the completion of targeted goals, but that this then requires separating the innovation process in first being able to identify the goals, then recognizing the impact over the short term, while keeping your eye on what the long term goal is, but reflecting through the process and routinely reviewing and updating….really our whole plan, act, observe, reflect model of professional learning!


  3. In the scientific world experimentation is not only encouraged it is a foundation of scientific study. There are many examples of so called “rogue” scientist who through experimentation and testing have introduced many things into our daily lives. Through peer review, scientific theories are tested or verified to determine if they are valid. Our peer review process is called collaborative inquiry.

    Our labs are our classrooms where we encourage not only our students to explore their curiosity but also our teachers. Our teachers are researchers engaged in the study of how learning occurs in a wide range of students with different abilities and skill levels. Through collaborative inquiry we encourage our teachers to tackle examine how students learn. They are asked to back their innovative practices with evidence from the student’s desk. Our PLCs are the forums where innovative thinking, practices and theories are supported with evidence from the classroom and reviewed by our peers.

    “Rogue” is being driven by curiosity…asking questions… thinking outside of the box…creating innovative ideas to improve learning.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is timely for me. I used “not going rogue” to describe myself yesterday. Thanks Nicki for giving me an alternative perspective and allowing me to reflect on how I view myself as a leader.


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