8 Characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset #IMMOOC2 Week 2

I am bound and determined to keep up with the awesome MOOC on the book Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros, so be prepared for a blast of posts with this focus and hashtag. A big challenge for me will be to keep these succinct because yay words! I want to use all of them! I’m starting with week two with the full intention of backtracking on week one, but I want to feel somewhat caught up, so here we go. (For the record, I read Chamber of Secrets before Sorcerer’s Stone so apparently this is a thing with me.)

One of the prompts asks us to talk about ONE characteristic of the Innovator’s Mindset and give an example of how I exemplify this. None of these characteristics can operate in isolation and I’ve started and restarted several times– I am going to go with “risk taker” because this speaks the loudest to me and my approach to teaching and learning. I strongly believe that we owe it to our students to take risks. In the YouTube Live session, risk is defined as moving from a “known”, something that is comfortable and familiar, towards something that might possibly be better for our kids. This is an inherent part of my personality and something that has served me well in the classroom– for the most part. Not every risk I take has had a positive impact on students– there have been many projects or initiatives that I have had to go back and restart or stopped altogether because they aren’t meeting the needs of my particular group of kids. These reasons can be things like a lack of a clear plan or communication, I’m way more excited about it than my kids are, infrastructure issues, whatever. But when this happens, the crucial part is going back and reflecting on why and how it can be improved for the next attempt.

All this being said, there are many instances where risks have paid off and have led to amazing experiences. The most recent being my current position as STEM Coordinator. I saw a need for it at my school and approached my principal with the idea. To my complete surprise, she said yes and this year has been transformative for me in a lot of ways. Instead of being responsible for 25-50 students, I now serve almost 900. That is a BIG responsibility (not to mention intimidating, overwhelming, ridiculous…)! Not to mention all the teachers that I am now tasked with supporting… I have been working to find my place in the grand scheme of things this year, and am learning how to work with different personalities, that support looks different for different teachers, and that it may just be possible to expand the pockets of innovation.

So my point to all this is that I strongly believe we have to take risks. Sometimes that risk will crash and burn, but this isn’t a guarantee. I found myself starting to stagnate and I made the choice to do something about it– this has led me down a path that I know I can control. If I am bored or burnt out, I have the power within myself to do something about it. We all do. So go do something that you can embrace fully– your kids will thank you and you never know when you might inspire a colleague. I leave you with this:

PRACTICE

 

Welcome!

Hello and thanks for visiting! I’m not sure where to begin, so let’s just jump right in, shall we? First off, let me just say that I have intended to get this up and running since about August of 2016 (ok maybe sometime in 2014) but better late than never. Who has time? As educators, we are beyond busy and hardly have time to take care of ourselves, let alone our family, significant others, friends, pets, and of course, our professional learning, right? If I have learned anything over the years, it is that it’s imperative that we make time for our own professional growth– otherwise, we will burn out. I was very close to that point a few years ago, when I got a grant funded from Donors Choose for two iPads.

I reached out to our school’s tech contact at the time, the amazing Jill Thompson (@edu_thompson), and she started me on a path I have yet to look back on. She showed me a few easy tools to get started (Show Me for screen casting, Toontastic for creating stories) and the effect upon my students learning and enthusiasm was instantaneous. Suddenly, I was able to actually listen to a short presentation on perimeter to see if they truly understood the concept without sitting down and conferencing one on one, as they narrated their solution to a problem I set in the back of the room for them. During our literacy block they were collaborating on stories, rejecting the pre-made characters and settings on the app for their own creations. They couldn’t wait to show me what they had done. I saw back and watched this in awe– they were creating, they were collaborating, they were *gasp* reflecting; and most importantly, they were so excited to share what they were doing. This spurned me on to find other ways to enhance their learning and I discovered the world of Twitter Chats. Seriously, I was like a kid who had been given an all access pass to Toys R Us. My little laptop was suddenly a gateway to a whole lot of educators who were passionate, knowledgeable, supportive, wanted to do what was best for their kids and wanted to help others be successful as well. Over the years, my network has grown– it’s primarily focused on North Carolina, but my Professional Learning Network extends across the globe– how can I not want to be better at what I do when I can learn from so many amazing people from around the world? It was a renaissance I didn’t know I needed.

I have come a long way since then. My point to all this is that if we are going to be on the front lines and working with these kids every day, we have to keep learning. For me, that learning includes reflecting and sharing which is what I plan to use this space for. So again, thanks for stopping by! I’d love to know where you’re from and how you are involved in K-12 education, so please let me know if the comments! Also, followers = motivation so please subscribe!! Until next time…

M.