New and better.

George Couros (@gcouros) defines innovation as something that is new AND better.  It’s a great and clear definition.  I was thinking about this definition this morning in terms of an individual educator.  Does something stop being innovative after the first time it exists?  Is it rendered as non-innovative to others thereafter?  Or is is possible that it can be as innovative for the next person because it is new and better to or for them?  I think so.

Twitter is an example.  Twitter probably isn’t viewed as particularly innovative anymore. However, when an educator decides to use it as way to enter a professional learning stream, to join a larger community of learners, to explore topics, to engage in rich conversations with other seekers….that is a new way to use twitter and certainly makes professional learning better.  The use of twitter in this regard is, by definition, innovative. When an educator makes the brave decision to venture out, create a twitter account, follow a hashtag, join a chat, add followers, tweet, and so on…for that educator the use of twitter is innovative.  It’s new to them and makes their professional learning better.

And it will for the next educator to try it as well.  And the next.  And in fact, the next.

Curious what others in the MOOC think.

#IMMOOC

 

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Whoa. How’s this for a conversation starter?!

“What if your school didn’t have a copier?” 

Wow.  I don’t know why, but that simple question just sticks in my head.  What a cool and intriguing way to start a conversation in schools, a meeting, a learning opportunity, a training, an EdCamp.  What if your school didn’t have a copier?

Thank you Matthew!

#IMMOOC

Choose Messy

I have reread this blog post from this gifted principal 3 times. It’s just too good not to share. Actually I didn’t know that something called ‘reblogging’ was a thing. It’s a thing. So let me click ‘reblog post’. Here we go! And thank you @laura_jennaro for this!

Hearts and Minds Learn

life.jpgStudents joined staff this week to kick off the 2016-2017 school year. The energy in the building was palpable! Teachers shared a little bit about who they are as a person and a learner with their classes. Students worked through ice breakers and team-building activities, setting each group on its unique journey to becoming a team. Students high-fived me in the hallways. Smiles were infectious. Positivity strummed through the building.

I know the beginning of the year is shiny and new, but I started wondering how we can we ride this momentum into the best year yet? What was it that made these first few days special?

Was it the focus on relationships first, knowing the rest will come?

Was it the staff community joining forces to share a unified message?

Was it the fact that everyone stepped out of their comfort zones to do what’s best for kids?

Whatever…

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Isolation is a choice.

As part of a MOOC, I’m revisiting The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity, by George Couros.  (#immooc).  Our first assignment was to reread the introduction and comment.  I’ll be all over that assignment, but for this blog post, I’m going to jump ahead in the book a bit because of what happened this weekend.

Consider these two passages from Innovator’s Mindset:

“Now, I am not saying that if you are not on Twitter, you are ineffective. Being on Twitter doesn’t make you a great teacher any more than not being on Twitter makes you ineffective. There are a lot of great teachers who do some pretty amazing things despite choosing not to connect online. That said, having 24/7 access to great ideas and forward-thinking teachers through Twitter and other social media increases your interactions with others and provides access to new ideas. A network helps people become better. How could it not?

Today, isolation is a choice educators make.

Our connectivity and learning opportunities have changed in recent years, and, thankfully, many teachers are taking advantage of those changes to benefit themselves and, more importantly, their students. We have access to information and, equally valuable, to each other. We need to tap into that.”
This weekend, I was messaging with one of our experienced teachers.  She has made the professional decision to challenge herself to grow and learn.  She has made twitter part of her professional learning network.  I mentioned that NCTE was having a twitter chat.  So, she checked it out.  She then sent along this message,  “There’s a secondary ELA chat tomorrow at 8 that I’m going to check out. I also love the Edtech videos. I’ve become a Twitter fanatic!”  This veteran teacher has made the decision to not be isolated.  She is learning about what she wants to learn about, on her own schedule, based on her own professional interests.
Back to the introduction assignment.  This quote, from the introduction,  has gone bone deep, “We forget that if students leave school less curious than when they started, we have failed them.”  Searing in its truth. But you know what?  That same idea holds true for teachers.  If teachers leave school less curious than when they started, we have failed them.  Let’s keep that curiosity alive.  Let’s do all we can to knock down isolation. Let’s light the fire.
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What’s a smackdown?

We’re learning how to use twitter as a professional learning tool.  One of the things we’re trying is a 20 Day Twitter Smackdown.  It’s going gangbusters!  We’ve added a whole bunch of educators to the twittersphere.  Our hashtag is #fifeshares.  While we’re not trending internationally, we’re definitely trending in our district!

Here’s our list of twitter prompts!

smackdown

The first step.

We’ve spent a lot of time recently talking with educators about professional learning. Professional learning that may include reading, thinking, and growing.  The most often voiced concern is lack of time.  We totally get this.  Educators are incredibly busy. Anyone who has ever taught knows the thousands of decisions, questions, answers, and so on that are part and parcel of being a teacher and with which a teacher is challenged every single day.

What, then, is the first step to find the time to read, think, and grow?

Decide it’s important.

That may sound trite and cliche.  It’s not intended to be either.  But it is tough to argue that when one decides it is important to find the time….the time can be found.

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