Innovating Inside the “Box”

It is a challenge to think of innovation inside the box, but even more challenging for me when I ask myself… what box?  Is that the teacher box?  The resource box?  An empty box?  Or the student box… the mind of a child?!

Really, what if the box were the child?  How do they view their experiences and opportunities.  How do they see change?

Change is inevitable and in many ways inspirational!   As George Couros, author of Innovator’s Mindset, reminds us…

“Change is an opportunity to do something AMAZING!”

So why does change worry so many or worse off scare so many?  Do we create an environment that makes it intimidating for a child or is it exciting, inspiring, and AMAZING?  Every child has their own home-life, experiences, conversations, access/resources, goals, desires, mental/physical health, ability, and support…

or lack of.

What about the child facing changes each day when their own life may look so different.  Change is a good thing, right?  Have you asked a child lately?  I have.  For some, change isn’t for the better.  Life for them doesn’t reflect innovation or even embrace it.  Whether it is a mindset within their surroundings, a comfort-zone of knowing the predictable, or a lack of resources, I simply have students that shun the change that I have brought to their learning… to their world.  To the one thing they considered safe and predictable.

So how do we bring upon change that is within their grasp… their means… their box?  What would life look like to them if we simply did not change because our resources were less limited than that of a neighboring district?  Are we then sending the message that they are just stuck in a situation that they have little to no control over?  Are we validating excuses to define our situations and outcomes?

As stated in this week’s IMMOOC Podcast, the phrase “Don’t Over-complicate It” stood out to me along with many other #EDUAwesome moments with Katie Martin, John Spencer, Aj Juliani and Brianna Hodges.

Brianna Hodges, Director of Digital Learning at SISD, talked about the social concern and her creation of “A Heartbreak Story” to bring empathy and compassion for the child that does’t fit into the box we have created in education and society as a whole.  This hit home with me… that was me!  I had very little, but I believe that is why I was so innovative from a very young age.

I was forced to think within my constraints so that I could feel a glimmer of the “AMAZINGNESS” George talks about.  As a child, my projects looked nothing like the store supplied ones that my peers brought to class.  I had to find something within my home that could portray the concept being taught.  I chose to empower myself by using what was available to me and finding ways to borrow or seek out resources from places like my local girls club or library.

I had to dream a little bigger. 

Dig a little deeper. 

I had choices to make each day… either I could take full advantage of every opportunity or allow it to slip through my fingers.  I needed a teacher who would create better opportunities for me… someone to bring better learning to my world.  I needed innovation… it was a sense of hope… a brighter tomorrow that I yearned to be a part of in this world.

As an educator I feel the restraints… the limitations of not having resources at my disposal.   I have a classroom of students with a WIDE range of experiences so how can I bring change for the better to each of them?  What do I have to offer?

I continue to empower myself by connecting to other educators, writing grants, borrowing materials, and creating my own opportunities with professional development.  Empowering myself to develop my own skills has been key to the successes my students have gained.

I must be a part of innovation… to create a sense of hope… a brighter tomorrow that my students yearn to be a part of in this world.

I must create change…

Amazing change…

I simply must innovate inside the box, the mind of a child.

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March Madness

ButtonMakers Pattern TemplateIt’s March… what vibe are you giving?  Have you gone mad with assessments piling up or yet on the horizon?  Are your students feeling pressure or are they welcoming it… feeling empowered to take on the world?  To show off their MAD SKILLS!

Where are you… your mindset?  Are you on the countdown or upswing… planning life changing lessons (Dave Burgess, #tlap) and embracing the new life around you?  The kind that is a steady reminder that we are always growing whether it is day 1, 80, or 180.

You know you have already heard it… ONLY X amount of school days are left.  The countdown is on for students, parents and teachers.  Don’t get me wrong I have those days when the sun is shining and I think… ohhhh poolside would be nice.  Or the day that feels like 17 rolled into one.  But that doesn’t mean my life with my students turns to madness.  The question is…

if we had a March Madness bracket with awesome lessons planned for our students, where would yours land?  Would you be willing to throw it in the ring with the competition?  

if we had a March Madness bracket for EMPOWERED students, where would your students be?  Would they be sprinting to the front of the line… stepping up to add their name to the bracket? 

Is our role really any different from day 1 to 180?  Just like day 1 our goal should be to create empowered learners that are off the bench, jumping, clapping, ready for their call to step up and shoot.  Don’t leave before the buzzer. How would you feel if your leader, coach, or biggest fan stepped aside a quarter into the game… or when the last quarter started and the score was tied?! Every day is day 1.

If you are looking to bring your A Game in the last quarter try one of the following:

  1. Grab a book!  Dave Burgess Consulting, INC offers over 40 incredible innovative reads that are life changing to every child through educators like you!  Are you into STEAM and Makers?  Bring out your creative genius with books by Jacie Maslyk or Laura Flemming for go to quick action plans!
  2. Join a twitter chat!  #tlap #Leadlap #LearnLAP #MasteryChat #DitchBook #KidsDeserveIt #PlayLap #STEAMMakerChat #IMMOOC and so many more!
  3. Find or create your own PD… look into #4OCF with Rich Czyz and find many ideas that can be implemented at the drop of a dime.  Message me and I can add you to the incredible VOXER Chat led my Matthew Larson.
  4. Locate an EDCamp near you!  Close to Pittsburgh or ready to shake the winter blues with a road trip?  Join us as my district host Pittsburgh’s very own camp coming up in 2 weeks!  CLICK HERE to register!
  5. Make a REAL connection with the your students by bringing #BookSnaps into your classroom!  Book Snap Queen Tara Martin will walk you and your students through the learning process with one simple HOW TO VIDEO CLIP
  6. What about starting your own BYOB to build relationships in your building?  Bring Your Own Breakfast and hang out on Payday Friday!

Where is your creative spark (grab Katie Martin’s new book “Learner Centered Innovation” to help you find it)  What are you doing to keep the momentum so you aren’t left on the bench when the driven are playing?

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#IMMOOC 4 Week 1: Breakthrough

Innovation is not set aside for the elite.  It is not a term meant to be used in education alone.  It describes a global effort towards betterment.  It is necessary that we not only recognize innovation, but that we find our own role in it.

When it comes to innovation, I find myself intrigued with EDUicons and their story… they are the epitome of innovation… of breakthroughs in all walks of life.  I reflect back to history’s “greats” and look for parallels.  How did they get there or here?

In Katie Martin‘s Book, Learner Centered Innovation, she continuously asks “What if ?…”  She also challenges us to look at different points of view.  From the administrator, to the teacher, to the student, Katie targets the idea of… “BE THE CHANGE”

“What if ?… and begin to create the change that you wish to see in your context.” –Katie Martin 

Think about Albert Einstein‘s mindset.  Would you consider him a problem solver?  An innovator?  A person looking to improve life for all? A CHANGE MAKER?

“We cannot solves our problems with the same thinking that we used when we created them”.  –Albert Einstein

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Problems are a way of life.  Problems are a sign that we are trying.  Without them, that means we’re staying inside our comfort zone of a hamster wheel and allowing life to continue status quo.

In 1915, Albert Einstein published his personal masterwork on the general theory of relativity.  How did this happen?  I suspect it was a result of him pursuing his passions.

Interestingly enough, from the Encyclopedia World of Biography it states, “He was a poor student, and some of his teachers thought he might be retarded (mentally handicapped); he was unable to speak fluently (with ease and grace) at age nine. Einstein’s formal secondary education ended at age sixteen. He disliked school, and just as he was planning to find a way to leave without hurting his chances for entering the university, his teacher expelled him because his bad attitude was affecting his classmates”.

This puts me right back to something Katie said during the first IMMOOC Season 4 podcast with George Couros and AJ Juliani.  When talking about her son she stated, “school simply does not align with his strengths!”  At that very moment I felt like Katie was speaking for me as a child and my very own two sons… it was powerful!  I personally was not “caught in the middle of the turning point in education” as Katie so eloquently puts it.  But my sons are… right in the middle!

One teacher wants them to find their passion… let me rephrase… relight the passion that other teachers put out. 

One teacher demands a shared Google Doc, while the next doesn’t even know what a Google Doc is.

One has flexible seating, which allows for my son’s inattentiveness to have laser-focus, while others continue to call him out on inattentiveness in a compliant, rows of desks, teacher centered world.  

The BREAKTHROUGH IS HERE… the serum to save education… to save our children’s love of learning… to create change… to be a part of an innovative world!

What is your role?DVYI6RGXkAIHfXf

What will you do with it?

 

#LCInnovation: What if…

What if…

the way isn’t the right way?

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I sit down, get my focus on, and layout what I think are the perfect plans for the upcoming week.  I take everything into account from each child, the skills, where education is today, to where it is going tomorrow.  I really think this way of planning is the right way… looking at all angles.

Asking myself questions such as how can I…

Ditch That Textbook?

Infuse ISTE Standards into my lesson?

Remake Learning “Pittsburgh style” by creating opportunities to design, make and create?

Reach every child at their instructional level?

Inspire students to innovate or iterate through inquiry based lessons? 

Hook my students into knowing down the door to learning?  LCL Dave Burgess style

Empower every child to own their learning and have confidence to act on the 30 Second Pitch

and the list goes on and on. 

Yet, as I am reading Katie Martin‘s book Learner Centered Innovation, it has me asking what if the the way I am planning isn’t the right way.  To be clear it was a blend of reading her book and taking part in the #LeadLap Chat she moderated on Saturday morning that really pushed me to take action on this “what if“.

As any chat goes, I type away my gut instinct in seconds flat.  I hit the “tweet” button and find myself staring at my best plan yet… 

What if YOU answered Katie’s question?  What if… 

 

Take a Risk and Get Into the RING!

Introducing first…. from the innovative mindset of education…  He hails from Edmonton, Canada and was rated by many as the best influence on change in education… and for best change agent of the last decade.  With a leading book in education, sought after keynote, and leadership consultant…  Weighing in on student voice and giving their education a purpose.   He is a former teacher champion, principal champion, and CHAMPION FOR ALL STUDENTS AND EDUCATORS…

GEOOORGE

COUROSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!

Yes, that is how I think of #IMMOOC… it is powerful and commands attention.  It is a game changer for all educators.  Just imagine what this season will be like when we LEVEL UP OUR LEARNING with Innovator’s Mindset, EMPOWER AND…  Learner-Centered Innovation

Whether you lurk or take the risk and join in, you grow by being part of the experience.  JOIN US… you know you want to!  

How do I get in to the #IMMOOC ROUND 4 ring you ask? 

  1. SIGN UP… just do it!  Once you add your name to the list of EDUrisktakers you have already stepped forward in your thinking. (sign ups will be posted soon!)
  2. YOUR VOICE AND CHOICE will steer your learning… you decide how much you can give and in return that is what you will take away.  Big or small the takeaways ALWAYS impact!
  3. DON’T FEAR THE BLOG… this may be the biggest issue for many educators.  Worrying that they do not know how or may not know what to write.  THAT IS HOW MOST OF YOUR STUDENTS FEEL EVERY DAY!  This is your safe place just like you provide to your students… growing together in place of isolation is powerful!
  4. TWITTER CHATS… you won’t receive a personal invite in a fancy envelope.  This is a platform open to EVERYONE.  Type in #IMMOOC and you will see the questions posted.  It is a typical Q and A style format.  You will see Q1 for Question 1 and you will respond with A1 for Answer 1.  Just don’t forget to put #IMMOOC at the end of your answer (If it isn’t there automatically) to keep your response in the chat itself.  
  5. BE A CONTRIBUTOR not just a consumer… WE NEED YOU!  If everyone simply consumed we would be self absorbed mirror images of one isolated way of thinking.  Give… get into conversation… SMASH up your ideas with others and let EDUrelationships form for the betterment of your students, colleagues, and YOU! 
  6. Most often there are weekly videos to watch and reflect on… this is usually the jump-start to your blogging.  There is no one way to reflect.  This is your blog… JUST SPEAK YOUR TRUTH and others will chime in!

Here is your opportunity… get ready to do something AMAZING

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#IMMOOC Week 6: The Impact of Others

The IMMOOC journey is the epitome of innovation!  When you are having fun, are engaged, and find relevance in your own learning… TIME FLIES!  After 6 weeks of breaking down and rebuilding my mindset, I find myself with more enthusiasm than ever before.  I am full of ideas, reflection, and energy as I head into week 7 of “innovative leading.”

A NEW MINDSET.  One that has been shaped and formed by many hands.  I cannonballed into IMMOOC knowing that my life, not only as an educator but as a mother, wife, daughter, and friend, would never be the same.  Little did I realize that the relationships formed through blogging would impact me in a way unlike any other.

If I am being R.E.A.L. , there are so many posts that have touched my life, from Mike Mohammad, Tara Martin, to Annick Rauch and countless others in-between  It is so easy to continue to grow with their posts and views as they are the foundational family to my blogging.  So I challenged myself weeks ago to read more, reflect more, and open myself to others as that is what this journey is truly about.

Then came the final blogging challenge of the season. George Couros asked us to reflect on 3 other posts.   Challenge accepted.  Here are 3 that resonated within me:

 

CHANGE STARTS WITH ME by Jillian Schulte 

“The more we believe in the power of “me” (the power of our own ability to initiate change) the stronger will be our power of “we” (our collective ability to move the needle forward).”

 

Why Are We Still Assigning Homework? by Katie Martin

“As we think about what it means to be “smart” and what we will value, we have to acknowledge that information is abundant and rather memorizing and regurgitating content, we need students and educators who can learn, think, and act in ways that create new and better opportunities for those we serve. This requires that we examine traditions in education, like homework that may actually get in the way of learning and innovation.”

 

 

“In the spirit of trying new things, I’m going with Tumbler for my blog and sketch noting my takeaways from Innovator’s Mindset.”

 

 

I am not ending this #IMMOOC season with week 6… I am simply taking the fire lit under me and burning a new path in my journey!  Let’s light the world on fire… together!

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#IMMOOC Week 4: Climb A Ladder or Take The Ride

Relationships! RelationSHIPS!  RELATIONSHIPS!

With a goal driven mind, there is always the question whirling around in my head of what will be next personally and professionally.  Am I satisfied?  Do I envision more?  Is this enough… at least for the moment? There are times I feel accomplished.  Other times I feel defeated by the mere expectation I had for the outcome that never graced the highest rung on my ladder.

“IF WE WANT TO CREATE A CULTURE OF INNOVATION, WE MUST FIRST FOCUS ON FURTHERING OUR OWN LEARNING AND GROWTH.”

George Couros, Innovator’s Mindset

That ladder… the one with extensions that project beyond the ceiling of my ability.  It doesn’t intimidate me.  It doesn’t hang over my head giving me boundaries to my dreams.  It is more often the driving force that fuels my fire to reach higher and higher.  I am a dreamer.  Dreaming matters.  It helps me become what I aspire to be.  I thrive on “greatness” in every sense of the word.  I am driven to achieve beyond my own ability with the deliberate decision to place myself in the presence of opportunity.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again, staying stagnant is my worst nightmare.  Therefore I shall dream!  Therefore I shall connect! #relationships

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When the rungs of the ladder feel like a mile apart, how do I find the strength to pull myself up one more step?  The ultimate pirate Dave Burgess says it best, “Find your crew! All Pirates travel with a crew; you can’t sail, navigate, and fight battles on your own.”  Oh, is he right!  My crew is what helps me to reset my inspirational compass so that it points straight forward.

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My crew is how I gather the strength to place my hand on the next rung.  That strength turns into inspiration.  The inspiration fuels my dreams.  My dreams turn into my reality.  My crew is not limited to the boundaries of my district (although I have AMAZING people around me every day).  My crew is global thanks to twitter (and blogging of course)! They may not even realize it, but they are my crew in every sense of the word: Dave Burgess, Tara Martin, George Couros, Katie Martin, Alice Keeler, Annick Rauch, Aaron Hogan, my IMMOOC family and many more.  I am the teacher I am today because of this crew! Breaking down the walls… taking the ride!  #twitter #tlap #IMMOOC

Yes, I must climb the ladder to reach my goals, but it is just as important that I stop and take the rideIt’s the ride that rejuvenates my soul.  It’s the ride that makes me laugh uncontrollably… call it a joyride if you must.  Just as the sea captures the spirit of a pirate, this ride has my hair blowing in the wind, with nothing but joy flooding my mind.