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.
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?
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.
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.
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).
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?