Saturday, August 5, 2017

Key takeaways from the book, The Innovator's Mindset

This school year, some of our teachers have volunteered to be a part of a new group called the Innovative Teaching and Learning PLC. As part of our summer learning - as well as creating a shared experience - I led a book study with the group via Voxer on George Couros' book, The Innovator's Mindset. I had heard a lot of positive feedback about the book and seen some really great quotes from the book on twitter, and it seemed appropriate for what we are trying to accomplish in our PLC. 
As a side note, I will share with you that our school has a long history of being known for risk-taking. We have a culture and climate that gives permission to try new things. We encourage innovation, new ideas, and failures. We don't see innovation as a buzzword or a fad that will fade out over time; instead we constantly try to keep getting better and better at what we do for students. The book seemed like a natural fit for us, and after reading it, I can honestly say that it was (and is) a terrific resource for us. 

As a connected educator, many of the ideas in the book are ones that I have heard of, seen or discussed, and/or read blog posts and articles about. It was very powerful to hear the comments in the Voxer book study from teachers who were reading some of the ideas for the first time. I want to share with you some of my favorite parts as well as those that were most impactful for the group.

George's book is divided into 4 parts

     Part I: Innovation in Education (Chapters 1-3)
     Part 2: Laying the Groundwork (Chapters 4-7)
     Part 3: Unleashing Talent (Chapters 8-12)
     Part 4: Concluding Thoughts (Chapters 13-14)

Here's how we scheduled our book study:
**A question was posted from each chapter on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
     June 12  Chapters 1-3
     June 19  Chapters 4-6
     June 26  Chapters 7-9
     July 3     OFF
     July 10   Chapters 10 - 12
     Aug 2     (F2F)  Chapters 13 & 14
The face-to-face meeting was valuable, because it gave teachers the opportunity to sit with their small group (who have the same PLC period during the day) and have discussions with the people they will be working with all year in their PLC. It was a wrap-up-the-book-study-and-kick-off-the-new-year collaborative hour!

In no particular order, here are my favorite takeaways from the book...

The three most important words in education are: Relationships, Relationships, Relationships. Without them, we have nothing.
(page 68)

It is important that "innovation" does not become an event for our students but the norm.
(page 112)

Our world today is participatory; sharing should not be the exception in education but the rule. I want to note, too, that the use of technology does not lessen the value or impact of face-to-face connections. In fact, if we use technology to share on a consistent bases, face-to-face connections will likely improve.
(page 177)

Focusing on individuals' strengths that contribute to the vision of the school helps to move us from pockets of innovation to a culture where innovation flourishes.
(page 135)

A great teacher adjusts to the learner, not the other way around.
(page 38)

On page 212 in the book, George shares a story about a group of educators in Atlanta who would ask members of their learning community, "What did you learn today?" George's school adapted this and created a blog called 184 Days of Learning where learning community members could showcase their learning for every day that students were in the building in a school year. 

We talked as a group what it might look like if we were asking each other (all adults) as well as students, "What did you learn today?" We agreed that it would make us more aware of what we were learning throughout the day. We also thought it may shift students' focus on "getting the work done to get the grade" to more of a focus on what they learned while doing the work. Also, we thought it would shift the focus from teaching to learning.

I challenged our group of teachers in the ITL PLC that each time we see each other, we will ask the question of each other, "What did you learn today?" We hope that by our asking it of each other, it will spread throughout our school. I'll keep you posted on our progress!

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