Monday, September 19, 2016

Every Educator Has To Be An Innovator #IMMOOC

The week 1 session of the Innovator’s Mindset Massive Open Online Course (#IMMOOC) on Saturday led by George Couros, Katie Martin, and Dave Burgess provided me much to ponder.  There was, however, one point by Katie Martin that stood out.  Here was my tweet:

I have 2 takeaways within this Tweet:

  1. “Most teachers are innovative, they just don’t know it.”  It’s interesting to listen to innovative teachers argue their teaching practices are not innovative.  With our upcoming “Innovations in Learning” professional development, teachers were approached to lead a breakout session, but many were reluctant because they said no one wants to listen to me or what I’m doing is not innovative. As Dave Burgess said, “Educators have a moral imperative to share.”  We cannot expect others to share if we are not willing to share ourselves.

  1. If most teachers are innovative, how about the rest?  After all,  “Every educator has to be an innovator.”  Some educators may push back on being innovative with responses; “But I’m not techie” and “I just don’t have time.”  The Innovator’s Mindset makes things clear in this area by defining innovation as “...the creation of new and better ideas” and “innovation is not about stuff, it is a way of thinking.”  The reality of every educator becoming an innovator begins with the expectation that everyone must be an innovator.  The expectation comes from the leader, who must model being innovative along with a purposeful sense of “this is how we do things around here” embedded in the culture.  Later in the book, George poses the question that most struggle with; “How do we move from pockets of innovation to a culture of innovation?”

I am looking forward to more #IMMOOC community discussions on the vision of a “culture of innovation” and providing examples, ideas, and support in which every educator is an innovator.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Another Generation of Kids Cannot Wait #IMMOOC

While many teachers carry on the tradition of the factory, compliance-based, teacher-centered model of education, other teachers are embracing a student-centered, learning by doing model of education.  What ever happened to 21st Century Learning?  We are 16 years into the push for 21st century learning, but the 4 C’s of communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration are often missing in classrooms today.

Innovation in education is crucial today because our kids cannot wait any longer for the transformation of education to fully occur. For example, my youngest son recently graduated from high school.  While we sat on our deck this summer enjoying a nice evening, he started talking about his learning experiences through high school.  He described ways in which he learned best and ways he learned and retained very little.

It was heartbreaking to hear him talk about what I call “playing school;” doing what he needed to do to get the grade and move on.  He listed learning experiences not meaningful including reading textbooks, completing worksheets, taking notes, lectures, and most teacher-centered practices.  On the other hand, he was eager to describe the details of each of his most meaningful learning experiences.  Projects with choice were the most empowering because personal connection and passion were naturally embedded. Projects motivated him to do well because he was responsible for the learning in the form of a high-quality finished product.  Certainly not the norm, authentic learning experiences connected to real-world problems also made a positive impact on my son’s educational experience.

Too often, innovation and technology become interchangeable words.  As access to devices become much more ubiquitous, pedagogy continues to change ever so slowly.  Way too slow.  Case in point, my son had access to plenty of technology, but he still wanted more choice, project-based, and student-centered learning.  In The Innovator’s Mindset, George Couros provides a great reminder:

I am looking forward to participating and connecting with other educators in the #IMMOOC. Let us, as a collective group, make innovation more than just a trendy educational buzz word, but rather a movement to make education more meaningful and relevant for our students.  After all, another generation of kids cannot wait for the transformation to occur.