This week, Cathie Howe, project leader for MacICT’s Game Design team and one of our leading innovators is off to Thailand! Late last year, Cathie was awarded the NSW winner of the Australian 2010 Microsoft Innovative Teachers Award and as part of her responsibility as an award winner she has just attended the Microsoft Asia Pacific Innovative Education Forum in Phuket. We are extremely proud and grateful of the work she has done in the Game Design project, and with students and their teachers across many schools in NSW. Cathie is truly an innovative teacher from Cromer Public School and a highly deserving recipient!

But what is an innovative teacher, anyway? Well, having met and worked with some of the most innovative teachers, it is clear that there are a number of qualities that are characteristic of all of these teachers.

Here are my top 10:
1. Innovative teachers are problem-solvers. They are never too busy to find answers to problems. So when a problem occurs, they don’t see the problem. They are usually already trying a workaround, and usually searching for a solution at the same time.
2. Innovative teachers are perseverant. If the solution to a problem doesn’t come immediately, they persevere until they find one.
3. Innovative teachers are risk-takers. They usually don’t take ‘no’ for an answer too easily. They are willing to make calculated risks, to break rules and often test untried territories on a regular basis.
4. Innovative teachers are gracious and giving. They usually say ‘yes’ when someone asks for help or needs support. They are never too busy to share their expertise.
5. Innovative teachers are not afraid to fail. They see mistakes, errors and wrong decisions as learning opportunities.
6. Innovative teachers are always generating new ideas. They are often extremely creative and use their ingenuity to create new ways to teach.
7. Innovative teachers reflect. When things go well in the classroom, they reflect and look for ways to make it even better next time. When things don’t go so well, they don’t repeat the same mistakes over and over. They adapt and review their approaches based on the success of their last lesson.
8. Truly innovative teachers love working in teams. They are not loners. They love collaborating and enjoy learning from others.
9. Innovative teachers are usually humble. They are always in admiration of those they learn from.
10. Lastly, innovative teachers are passionate. It’s impossible not to notice it flowing through their veins. They are goal-oriented and focussed on the target. They pour hours and hours into achieving these goals irrespective of the effort required.

As I mentioned, I have had the honour of working with some of the most innovative teachers throughout my career and especially at MacICT.  All last week Cathie met lots of other highly deserving innovative teachers at the forum. The experience will be memorable for her and will bring so many new opportunities including the opportunity to meet Willie Smits.  I also want to put it on record that, in my opinion, she is one of the most innovative, creative, fearless, perseverant, problem-solving, reflective team players I have ever had the honour of working with. I know all her colleagues here at MacICT are so proud of her for representing us in Thailand.

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