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Walid Chaafi: What Does it Mean To Be Innovative in Education?

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by Walid Chaafi
Expert Educator Columnist, Tunisia

“I read, and I forgot. I saw, and I believed.  I did, and I understood.”

 -Confucius

That quote has been stuck in my mind since I read it eight years ago! It showed me that what we need is not more theories but more practice. Today’s students want an education that meets their individual needs, and opportunities that connect them to what is happening around the globe. They challenge us to be innovative and to make learning environments more exciting, challenging and rewarding.

That is said, meme introduce myself. I am Walid Chaafi. I am 35 years old. I am a father of two children. I have been teaching English since more than 7 years in Tunisia. I teach in the southeast of Tunisia in a city called Medenine. Officially speaking, I am referred to as an EFL Teacher as English in the education system of Tunisia is considered as a foreign language (English as a Foreign Language) not a second langue (ESL), which is French. Before starting my teaching career, I worked with the British Council Tunis for four years as a Customer Services Assistant, IELTS corrector and a Webmaster. I taught translation at university for two years too. I work as a part time translator/interpreter as well. I have been involved in using technology since the start of my career, as I have been an ICT trainer with the Ministry of Education to train teachers how to use technology in the classroom and what are the best ways to do that.

Enough about my professional career! A few words about my personality. I am an easy-going, open-minded and active person who loves helping others and always tries to learn. I am fond of technology. My hobbies are fishing and reading! Yes reading! I still read books! Not digital ones! Real books… you know, the ones made of papers :)

Enough about me!

Let me talk about what I am going to write about in my columns which you may call my guides.

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Students inhabit a borderless world offering limitless connection, data and mobility. They can choose to access knowledge and participate in dialogue on a global scale. They need education delivered in ways that are compatible with and support their world-view and their bond with communication technology. Therefore, I will write about different things. First, tools/apps that an educator can use in the class or outside to enhance learning and teaching and I will focus mainly on Microsoft tools and applications. Second, methodology and what are the best ways to teach. Finally , but not last, what may interest students better and how can an educator cope with any change in the situation related to either technology itself, or the policies governing education. We know our students’ world is ever-changing so we can’t stand still.

Now, we need a bigger ambition than bringing innovation to and improving education.

We have the opportunity to involve families and communities in the way young people learn, because learning is now so much more open, transparent and collaborative. We can use technology more creatively to move beyond classroom walls and we can transform education with completely new ways to learn new skills. This is clear in the 21st Century Skills that are meant to be acquired by students.

Innovation is about doing things in new or different ways. It may range from continuous improvement of existing practices through to transformation of how we achieve goals and thinking what those goals are or radical transformation to establish new practices.

Whether it is continuous improvement or complete transformation, the goal is the same – to build future practice that is better than the past.

Being innovative is about looking beyond what we currently do well, identifying the great ideas of tomorrow and putting them into practice.

Innovate here is for educators who are trying new ways of doing things in their learning environments – whether in an early childhood setting, a school, or in further education or training.

Until we meet in the next post, consider the following assumption and see if it is applicable in your case or if you do not agree, let us discuss it!

Innovation as a process is to:

  • identify a need for something new
  • learn from others – adapt and enhance existing ideas
  • plan and run your trial
  • share your ideas. (Sharing is caring)

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