VASCD Journal

Journal 2015

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PERFORMANCE TASKS Introduction The idea of innovation often carries with it the concept of the "a-ha" moment- the "Eureka!" of a bright idea that leads to fundamental changes in thoughts and actions for years to come. This characterization, however, does not tell the whole story of innovation. While sudden bursts of inspiration play a significant role in innovating practice, it is more often the opportunities for iteration that lead to design solutions to meet organizational needs. Innovating practice is not only the spark of a vision of some destination, but also the commitment to forging a path to get there (and the willingness to learn on the way). In a similar fashion, innovation in teaching practice gets spurred on by carving out opportunities for individuals and teams to design, test, and iterate the components of their practice over time. This mindset translates into a shift in thinking of district-wide professional development, less as an conduit for dissemination, and more as an opportunity for design. PD becomes a chance to target a shared focus and employ those iterative approaches that develop professionals and their practice. Since 2003, Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) has used the Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction (CAI) Institutes each summer as one of those points on the pathway toward innovation in teaching and learning. Whether as a springboard into a new initiative or as a checkpoint on current state and next steps, these summer institutes have become a primary lever for propelling the district's values into practice. CAI as a Hotbed for Innovation Toward Lifelong Learning CAI began in June 2003 with a collection of 28 educators from across the district teaming together with the goal of developing students as lifelong learners. This first team of pioneers partnered with central staff to create the CHECKPOINTS ON A PATH OF INNOVATION 2015 Vol. 12 Virginia Educational Leadership vaascd.org 17

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