Embracing Innovation and Risk-Taking

In collaboration with @Pikmykid

“There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.” Brené Brown

It’s the time of the year when we recognize the work being done in education. We have days set aside to thank our administrators and administrative staff, paraprofessionals, and a Teacher Appreciation Week. Being an educator today involves a lot, and the past couple of years have not been easy for anyone. Trying to navigate through challenges, embrace new ideas, and explore different avenues than maybe what we as educators have been comfortable with, can be a bit scary. We may know change is needed but feel inadequately prepared or perhaps fear we may receive some pushback for investing ourselves in bringing about change in our classrooms and schools. Perhaps because some educators may be comfortable right where they are and as a result, are not so willing to embrace innovation and risk-taking. However, as educators, to do our best for students, we must do whatever it takes to help them to develop the skills they will need to be successful in the future. To do this means taking risks and innovating.

Regardless of our profession, we are learning every day. For some, this meant embracing innovation, when just the word “innovate” alone can feel overwhelming, or unclear. For others, they may continue using the same methods and tools to stay in their comfort zone. But as educators, we must be willing to take more risks, especially when we have had the chance to try new ideas, explore new tools and think about the impact that we can make when we do. The world is changing and the world of education and how we provide for our students in our schools needs to change right along with it, or faster. We have to stay ahead of what is happening in the world which means, we have to dive in, take risks and be innovative in our practice. Doing so empowers us to bring about some needed and maybe even long-overdue changes in our own practice and in our schools. It also empowers students to be willing to take risks on their own too.

Sometimes change is hard

We have difficult decisions to make in our work and we must always be willing to step in and do what is right, not what is easy. Even if it means we try and fail, that is okay. When this happens, we appreciate the process. When we do this together, we appreciate one another. There is learning and growing in failure. Risking, failing, reflecting, and trying again is an excellent model to set for students. It may be uncomfortable but it is necessary.

A friend once said that innovation comes from that place of struggle between where we are and where we could be. Being innovative just means doing something new or different than what is normally done. It only takes one step. One idea, one change, one different or new approach. And we can do this together.

Making changes like this can feel uncomfortable, shifting from our common practices can feel and look chaotic at times. Whether teachers may be either apprehensive or simply have their minds made up that they don’t need to make any changes to what they are doing. Things have worked just fine, so why do anything differently? But if we don’t try, we risk missing out on opportunities that will positively impact our students and ourselves. Although we may feel comfort in doing things the way they’ve always been done, staying stagnant in our growth comes at a cost.

Innovation is the way to the future

We are lifelong learners and as we think about Teacher Appreciation Week, reflect on the teachers that made an impact on you. Whether as a student or in your current role, who are the teachers that tried things that were different, or inspired you to take some chances now in your own teaching practice? Who do you lean on for ideas and support? Be sure to appreciate what they do and thank them. Use this as inspiration to push yourself to provide more for our students to continue to learn and grow together. We must take some risks with new or different ideas, and keep reflecting on the work that we do. Progress will be made, because focusing on how we can positively impact and benefit our students is at the heart of everything we do. Even if we don’t believe that our idea will work well, or particularly favor the use of technology or a new teaching strategy, we must keep our minds open to the learning part of it. Being mindful that while it might be something that does not necessarily benefit us, it isn’t about us. It can be of tremendous benefit for our students or our colleagues in the future and we are in the business of doing what is best for others.

Always remember “the future of the world is in our classrooms today,” and we can’t prepare by only sharing what we know and limiting it to our own skills. We must innovate in our practice, try new things, reach out to other teachers, and learn from one another. It just takes a spark, an idea, a curiosity to begin. What problem can we solve? What can we do better? Lean into your network, your mentors, and the teachers that guided and inspired you along the way to try something different, and think about the impact it has made. How can we innovate?

It starts with an idea or a challenge

We at Pikmykid are definitely all about innovation. We dedicate ourselves to helping teachers and schools have the technology to solve the everyday problems of getting students safely to and from school and securing a safe experience all throughout the day.

One of the most chaotic parts of the day for parents, teachers, and school administration is student dismissal. Traditional dismissal methods, including loud-speaker announcements, sticky notes, phone calls, and emails, not only overwhelm staff but also leave room for error.

Pat Bhava, CEO, and founder of Pikmykid, developed the idea after picking his daughter up from school one day. Bhava took a chance with innovation. While he thought this would be an easy task, he soon realized just how hectic the car line actually is when staff placed someone else’s son in the back seat of his car.

After conducting research, Pikmykid found that on average, schools that use the platform have 4,572 students who are car riders with 35 percent carpooling each month. Another 4,200 are walkers and schools have approximately 2,300 schedule changes per month. Frequent dismissal changes are a challenge for staff to monitor, causing staff to spend extra time each day ensuring students are accounted for rather than in the classroom – teaching.

The result of many schools struggling with dismissal processes is long car lines, frustrated parents and communication gaps, which ultimately causes staff to lose time in their day on outdated processes and chaotic dismissals.

Learning Impact Outcome

According to a third-party study conducted on Pikmykid, teachers can save an average of 15 minutes per day using the Pikmykid platform. This time saved each day can then be reinvested into the classroom rather than being spent managing dismissals through outdated resources. This extra time allotted to learning creates a tangible difference in increasing the learning impact outcome using existing resources without adding expenses elsewhere. More time for teachers to focus on students and make a bigger impact on learning.

Implementation of the Pikmykid platform within schools improves the process of learning by allowing students to have more time in the classroom dedicated to their education. Over the past few years, students have switched from virtual to hybrid to in-person learning, and this perpetual switch can be highly disruptive to students’ learning performance. Fortunately, Pikmykid opens the lines of communication between staff and parents, providing a clear and consistent way to communicate changes to parents as soon as they occur.

Providing students, teachers, parents, and administrators with peace of mind knowing each kid is accounted for, as well as allowing the ability to mitigate any potential stressors or dangers in the classroom, directly impacts student performance and therefore allows for overall institutional success. Clear communication is crucial for improving the learning process for students, especially in recent years.

Solution

Pikmykid streamlines dismissal, increases safety, and allows teachers, parents and students to focus on what really matters – learning. The platform accomplishes this by connecting schools, teachers, and parents with real-time tools to make dismissals safer and more efficient. These tools include a school dashboard, a student dispatcher application, a free mobile phone app for parents and guardians, and year-round customer support. Pikmykid saves staff 2,316 minutes per month on school dismissals, allowing for more meaningful time with students in the classroom.

During dismissal, when parents enter the geofence surrounding the school, the platform lets them instantly announce their arrival on the app, and staff in the classroom can see the student’s parent has arrived.

The platform allows for seamless integration into already existing school systems and provides parents and teachers with direct lines of communication. Pikmykid requires no additional hardware or an extensive setup and requires very little training to understand and is fully customizable to meet the unique needs of every school district. Schools can sign up and have the platform fully up and running within only five days. Even with potential staff changes at a moment’s notice, substitute teachers only require minimal training to understand how to navigate the platform. Pikmykid takes data privacy very seriously and is not only compliant with all mandated state and federal regulations but is also a voluntary signatory of a more stringent ‘Student Privacy Pledge.’

Pikmykid is used in all 50 states as well as several countries, and there are over two million active users per day of the Pikmykid platform, providing better communication between staff and parents. Pikmykid empowers schools to simplify dismissal, engage parents and keep students safe so that everyone has peace of mind and can focus on what really matters – learning. And it all started with an innovative idea and a risk taken.

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