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: