Innovation is the big buzz word in the schools in Dubai. It is thrown about effortlessly, as if we should all know how easy it is to come up with an innovative idea and innovative education practices. It is such an important concept that we are even inspected on the quality of our innovation.

So what is innovation really about? To make it simple we are talking about a new idea or concept, that hasn't been seen before, simple right? Or maybe not!

As leaders and teachers we sit in many meetings trying hard to be innovative, only to discover that the great idea we came up with, has already been in practice in other schools, back to the drawing board. The painful process continues.

This was my story as a headteacher, myself and my team were great at researching the best education practices from around the world and implementing many of these philosophies and concepts into our school, to be told by inspectors ‘thats not innovative’.

So how did we get to place where we were authentically coming up with innovative concepts?

I soon realised that innovation came from our imagination. The more we engage with our imagination, the more seemingly whacky, new ideas start to pop into our conscious mind. The laptop I write this article on, at one time never existed, it was born from someones imagination.

Having discovered the power of imagination, I made it part of my daily life. I would regularly allow myself to float into an imagination journey, where the notion that ‘anything was possible’ was the ethos. In this place gems of ideas would come to me, some with pure clarity and others (seemingly at the time) weird, only later to discover the meaning.

It was at this point that I decided to take the teacher INSET in a different direction. Our inset moved from informative or knowledge based to actually opening up the imagination and creativity of the teachers. In this place I now had 14 teachers immersed in their imagination coming up with new, interesting ideas and concepts that I had never heard of before. It was the most inspiring, exciting time of my career.

I had at last discovered how to come up with innovative ideas, that resulted in amazing change within the school. As the teachers also discovered the power of imagination, they were eager to awakening this in the students. You can only imagine how our practice changed. We made a decision that our school’s focus was now about creating a generation of ‘change makers’, the inspectors rated this as outstanding!

So if you are struggling to meet the requirement of innovation within our schools today, I suggest you take some time to lay down and let your imagination wander. Watch it like a movie, no need to engage with it or try to control, as it knows exactly where to take you. Enjoy the beauty of what we were all born with and then get excited when you realise one of your most innovative ideas ever!

Rachel Lloyd
Co - Founder Limitless