“Attention Kmart® shoppers. There’s a bluelight special in aisle 4.”
One of the rare purely American concepts is that of the Kmart® bluelight special which is a surprise price-cut offered for a limited time on specific merchandise. The items on sale weren’t clearance and that’s what made it so exciting. Here’s a great thing being sold at a cheap price. In education, you can use this bluelight concept to give time or value to things that are special instead of the things that teachers dread. Here are six ways to use bluelight specials to spark innovation:
1. New program bluelight special
How can you best integrate or introduce new programs? Shine the bluelight on those new programs. Bluelighting programs gives teachers the chance to read and discuss innovative new options. Busy teachers focused on prepping for and serving students may not have the time to research programming. Giving teachers the gift of time to investigate helps foster integration possibilities and can spark innovation.
2. Working styles bluelight special
How do your teachers take in information? A flashing bluelight email about something you find exciting may not be the best way to draw their attention. If you communicate in a way that draws teachers and administrators, the results can be more productive. Take time to give short working style quizzes about communication methods to discover what works best for them. You may discover that some teachers prefer the phone, while others like email, PowerPoint or a personal visit. Take notes about individual teacher preferences but also for the overall school or district.
3. Innovation bluelight special
What do your teachers want? If you draw their attention, make sure that your bluelight is shining on something worthy of their time. Don’t try to sell old ideas to your teachers. If teachers and staff have their own creative ideas to improve teaching or administration; listen to them. Don’t make the process one-sided or you won’t spark innovation. If you offer innovative ideas but also accept and include their ideas, you are opening up not only the channels of communication but also increasing a positive culture in your district. One administrator in TN had a bluelight innovative moment that not only saved money, it also helped students learn.
4. Find a bluelight zone
How can you help your teachers introduce new concepts and learning methods to their students? Offer ideas and tips to teachers on how to draw their students to bluelight ideas as well. Talk to your teachers and staff about proven ideas that have worked and new ideas for them to implement. Then, find a new solution together and offer it to any teacher or administrator that could benefit from the idea.
5. Keep your bluelight specials fresh
How can you keep innovation on the forefront of your district? If an idea or process isn’t working, don’t simply revamp it and shine a bluelight on it. Trying to sell your teachers on an old idea that they know isn’t working doesn’t benefit anyone. Meet with your teachers and administration to find new ways to teach and lead that work in the present.
6. Leave the bluelight on
How can you move beyond simply introducing something new? Don’t use bluelight specials once for fun and then drop it. Continue to offer the time and place to discover innovations that change and improve classrooms and schools. The more consistent you are about using bluelight specials, the more your district will see your ideas and implementation as something to come running to throughout the year.
Join our Facebook group Principal Life for more ideas on how to transform your school.