Highlights from The Innovator’s Mindset Introduction and Part 1 #IMMOOC

I am participating in the IMMOOC and enjoy being part of this group of learners. I thought I would share some of my highlights so those of you who have not read the book yet can get a sense of what you are missing.

From the Introduction . . .

  • We forget that our responsibility isn’t solely to teach memorization or the mechanics of a task but to spark curiosity that empowers students to learn on their own.
  • We need to change what school looks like for our students so that we can create new, relevant opportunities for them— for their future and for today.
  • We need to develop a shared vision, align expectations, and provide pathways to ensure that all teachers have the resources to learn, create, and innovate to meet the needs of today’s learners.
  • Schools, more than any other organization, need to embrace a commitment to continuous learning.

Part 1: What Innovation Is and Isn’t

Chapter 1

  • The word “innovation” must be more than a buzzword in education- we will have to know what it is, what defines it, and what it looks like in practice.
  • Innovation as a way of thinking that creates something new and better.
  • Innovation is less about tools like computers, tablets, social media, and the Internet, and more about how we use those things.
  • A teacher, as a designer and facilitator, should continually evolve with resources, experiences, and the support of a community.
  • Establishing an innovative culture doesn’t require transformation. However, it does require leaders who will develop and sustain systems that support “optimal learning experiences” and who value the process of creating and refining ideas.
  • “Innovative teaching is constant evolution to make things better for student learning.”
  • The question that must be asked every day is. “What is best for this learner?”
  • Starting with empathy for those we serve is where innovative teaching and learning begin
  • Questioning what we do and why we do it is essential for innovation.
  • When we think differently about the things that we are used to seeing daily, we can create innovative learning opportunities- for our teaches and students.
  • Designing solutions with both the Individuals’ Interests and the end goal in mind is crucial for any innovation to be successful.

Chapter 2

  • Innovator’s mindset can be defined as the belief that the abilities, intelligence, and talents are developed so that they lead to the creation of new and better ideas.
  • We must focus on creating something with the knowledge that’s been acquired.
  • The world only cares about- and pays off on- what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it).
  • The Innovator’s Mindset- Belief that abilities, intelligence, and talents are developed so that they lead to the creation of new and better ideas.
  • Our challenge as leaders is to think of new ways to do things so we can more forward.
  • We need to look at the realities of our situations and create something new. And it’s crucial that educators see this “inside of the box of innovation” modeled by administrators.
  • Having the freedom to to fail is important to innovation. But even more important to the process are the traits of resiliency.
  • As leaders, we need to develop a culture that focuses on doing whatever it takes to ensure that we are successful in serving all of our students.
  • The innovator’s mindset exemplified: Try, fail, and try something else until  you find or create a solution that works.
  • Would I want to be a learner in my own classroom?
  • Consider your student’s learning experience from their point of view.
  • Do your students have opportunities to learn in ways that connect to their lives and make an impact on how they engage with others?
  • What is best for this student?
  • What is this student’s passion?
  • As educators, we can create better experiences for our students by tapping into their passions. To do so, we need to be intentional about learning more about our students and what they love.
  • What are some ways we can create a true learning community?
  • The experiences we create often make students dependent upon the teacher for learning.
  • By embracing the idea that everyone in the classroom is a teacher and a learner, we can create a community that learns from and teachers one another.
  • Regular feedback helps us reflect on how we are serving our current students.
  • If we are going to help our students thrive, we have to move past “the way we have always done it,” and create better learning experiences for our students than we had ourselves.
  • “Is there a better way to teach this lesson to meet the needs of these learners?”

Chapter 3

  • Great educators can work within the constraints of the system and still create innovative learning opportunities for their students.
  • Effective leadership in education is not about moving everyone from one standardized point to the next but moving individuals from their point “A” to their point “B.”
  • Making connections between the powerful ideas and information that’s being freely shared online allows educators to expand learning opportunities for their students.
  • Learning is literally a matter of creating new meanings, new neural networks, and new patterns of electro-chemical interactions within one’s total brain/body system.
  • Imagine how much deeper learning could be if “creation” was a non-negotiable in the learning for both us and our students.
  • When thinking about moving forward, focusing on the question, “What is best for these learners?” helps ensure you’re making the right decisions.
  • Questioning our efforts, progress, and processes is crucial to innovation.
  • Innovation is not about changing everything, sometimes you only need to change one thing.
  • I will learn from others to create better learning opportunities for others and myself.

It’s All About Who You Know #IMMOOC

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Image from Pixabay

“I believe isolation is the enemy of innovation. I will learn from others to create better opportunities for others and myself.” ~George Couros

Week 2: Take one of the “Characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset” and write an example of how you exemplify it in your own work.

I fell into my job 10 years ago and was only supposed to stay until they found someone to replace the teacher who had left. I was not “techy”, I was not digitally literate, I did not even know how to make a Power Point (which at the time was the benchmark as it was a term I knew). I was basically learning things right before I was teaching my classes.

Because my classes were scheduled intermittently throughout each day, I had blocks of time where I could “play and learn” and basically figure things out. I browsed, I searched, and found Richard Byrne of FreeTech4Teachers and Kelly Tenkely of i learn technology (and later, founder of Anastasis Academy). I basically hit the learning jackpot! By then I went from being temporary to having a full time contract. At the same time I learned about Powerful Learning Practice because there was a cohort in my school. I did not become part of the PLPeeps until year two of my job, but that was ok, because I had plenty to learn and try until then. Plus, I had become friendly with one of the fifth grade teachers with whom I enjoyed brainstorming so I had plenty on my plate.

It was during my second year of teaching that I joined PLP and Sheryl Nussbaum Beach encouraged all of us Peeps to create a Twitter account. At the time (September of 2009), I did not know what I would tweet about. Who would want to listen to me or anything I had to say. Who wold really care? I let that Twitter account sit there for a while, idling, laying dormant until later that spring. I went to a PLP conference at the Philadelphia Convention Center where there were speakers like Will Richardson and many others to connect with. It was the first time I saw a hashtag used and so I decided I would tweet interesting things from the conference and use that hashtag. One tweet led to another and I was hooked.

I started following people from the conference, especially those whom Sheryl followed and suggested.  I found Eric Sheninger, Jackie Gerstein, Jerry the cybraryman, Tom Whitby, Steve Hargadon, Alec Couros, and George Couros. I learned about virtual spaces like Nings, blogs, and wikis; massive open online learning sites like Coursera; educational chats like #edchat, #ntchat, and #sschat; conferences like #edcamps, Teachmeets, and TEDx, and began going to those to meet and connect with more people. It was fortunate that I had a built-in conference partner in my friend and colleague Wendy who was always up for a good conference.

I made connections and learned from people who in the Twitterverse and educational sphere are rock stars.

Being connected is just one of the characteristics of The Innovator’s Mindset. It is these connections that excite, motivate, and inspire me to try new things with my students, share what I learn with my colleagues, and continue to evolve and grow as an educator and learner.

Why Not Now?! #IMMOOC

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If you look at history, innovation doesn’t come just from giving people incentives; it comes from creating environments where their ideas can connect. ~Steven Johnson

I am excited to further my learning by participating in the Innovator’s Mindset Massive Open Online Course with George Couros and have chosen to respond to the following prompt:

Why is innovation in education so crucial today?

When I was a child- back in the ’70s and ’80s, I can remember the excitement of getting the yearly supplement to the World Book Encyclopedia. It was green and off-white leather and it had the year on the spine. I sat them proudly on my bookshelf next to the red and navy encyclopedias that went from A-Z. I literally had the world in my hands- or at least on the bookshelf in my bedroom- and I could learn anything I wanted, when I wanted by just opening the right volume.

Flash forward to the college years when I was first introduced to ERIC microfiche (and by the way, pulling that word out of my head is so mind-boggling since if you asked me tomorrow what I did over the weekend I would probably not remember) and I thought my head would explode from all the available material at my disposal anytime I stepped foot in Olin library.

Today, we don’t have to wait for the yearly installments to arrive, nor do we have to step foot in a library (don’t get me wrong, I love libraries because I love books) if we have an internet connection and a smart phone, tablet, or other mobile device; the information is literally at our fingertips (or thumbs depending on how you type!) whenever we want to learn.

And yet, in many schools, students are waiting- waiting for the bell to tell them when to go to and leave from class; waiting for the teacher to tell them it’s ok to take out their devices; waiting to get the assignment; and waiting to be called on to answer a question.

In some schools, even those where students are given laptops and often have other devices in their hands, those devices are not necessarily being used to their potential- to connect students with others, to share learning, discuss topics, to create for authentic audiences and real feedback, to learn more.

And this is why innovation in education is so crucial today. It is because students and teachers have these capabilities in their laps that what happens in schools needs to be more innovative. Educational systems may have enough physical space for each student to learn, but may be lacking in space for innovation. Teachers and students in schools today need space and time to think differently, think creatively, think innovative-ly. They need time and space to collaborate and the freedom to do so. They need to be applauded for taking risks, lifted up when they fail, and encouraged to reflect on what went wrong, what went right, and how both additional efforts and reflection time can help them improve.

Innovation is not necessarily a lab or makerspace in the building. While those physical spaces can lead to innovations, finding passions, and creative expression, it is not the actual space but what happens in it and around it. What are the mindsets of those spaces. Do they allow for and encourage freedom of expression, student choice, risk-taking, collaborating, reflecting? Do they encourage students and teachers to look at things and think about how they can use or do things differently? Do they inspire a love of learning and give them space to be curious and then follow that curiosity wherever it may lead?

As Couros says in his Introduction,

We need to change what schools look like for our students so we can create new, relevant opportunities for them– for their future and for today.

We are at a time of constant change, upgrading, making things happen in the world outside of school, we need to make things happen inside the world of schools, and the time for this to happen is now.

photo credit: hehaden Times square via photopin (license)