Monday, October 3, 2016

#IMMOOC: Introduction: Moving Minds to the Opportunity Of Change

After a few hectic weeks of work, life with kids, and a move to a new house, I’m finally getting started with The Innovator’s Mindset MOOC (#IMMOOC). As I blogged about last week, I’ve followed George Couros for a while now and I’ve had his book (The Innovator’s Mindset) on my list of books to read, so I was excited to hear that he and Katie Martin are facilitating a MOOC based on The Innovator’s Mindset.

Teach Like a Pirate - Dave Burgess Speaking. Digital image. 
Teach Like a Pirate: Dave Burgess. Dave Burgess, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2016.
Each week #IMMOOC will feature a YouTube Live Hangout with a special guest speaker followed by conversation and questions with George and Katie. As I play catch up with #IMMOOC, I watched the recording of the first week’s YouTube Live session featuring Dave Burgess (@burgessdave). I first learned of Dave Burgess in 2009 when I attended a session he facilitated at the NCSS Conference. “Outrageous Teaching: U.S. History Edition” was unlike any conference session I had ever attended. Dave entered the room dressed in pirate regalia and proceeded to teach/entertain the audience with magic, props (including a woman’s bra - #tlap fans will recognize this as the taboo or mystery bag hook), and audience involvement. Dave’s energy and passion were infectious and very inspiring. I left this session feeling like I had to find a way to increase the engagement of my students. I became even more intrigued a few years later when I learned that Dave was publishing a book, Teach Like a Pirate, and he was developing his own consulting and publishing company. Dave’s company has gone on to publish excellent educational books, such as The Innovator’s Mindset.

Dave’s portion of this week’s YouTube Live Hangout focused on doing whatever it takes to engage and teach kids. As educators we need to embrace our purpose as life changers who raise human potential. To achieve this end, we must be willing to think outside the box to engage students and create buzz for learning (and perhaps be innovative, hmm . . . does this relate to The Innovator’s Mindset??). Listening to Dave is inspiring and his energy is infectious, but as strange as it sounds, messages like Dave’s and George’s can be disheartening. We, as educators, listen to and read these amazing messages, then go back to our schools and see change perceived as an obstacle rather than an opportunity. Dave addressed this reality and offered reassurances that change does not happen all at once and cannot be a top-down directive, but rather must be a grass-roots initiative that starts with a few committed individuals. I loved Dave’s analogy that effective change is like a snowball, you must start small and as momentum gains, it will grow. This is a great message; we need to focus on those who want change and ignore the negativity from others. This builds a base of support for trying new things and as others see the effectiveness of these ideas, momentum will grow and the push for change will gain energy. Dave closed his portion of the Hangout by encouraging educators to share their journey. He stated that we have a moral imperative to let others know how we are engaging in innovative practices. This helps the snowball gain momentum and can help educators all around the world.

George and Katie followed Dave with a fast-paced discussion of topics related to the Introduction of The Innovator’s Mindset. Much of the conversation focused on adjusting our educational practices to the current realities of the “real world” that schools so often use to try and justify outdated methods. The “real world” involves skills and achievement over aptitude and includes learning environments that are comfortable and collaborative (picture Starbucks), rather than a factory model of teacher-centered learning. We need to teach students to value learning rather than jumping through hoops to achieve a grade. This also means that we need to not only acknowledge, but incorporate “real world” tools such as Google, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

As I watched this Hangout and read the Introduction to The Innovator’s Mindset, I was continually struck with some of the same ideas. Change can open up a whole new world for us and our students, but change is difficult. Many of my thoughts on this topic can be illustrated by the “Be More Dog” video from O2 that was referenced in the Introduction of The Innovator’s Mindset. Sometimes we fall into the trap of teaching like teachers have always taught, but by making the decision to try something different we can open up a new world of possibilities. Although this sounds good, it is not such an easy proposition. This involves changing our paradigm of school and maybe even of what we consider innovative.


If we continue to view the purpose of school as the acquisition of knowledge, then change will not occur. We must ask ourselves what do we care about in schools? This question determines the course we take as educators. I loved the phrase in The Innovator’s Mindset that we need to inspire students to be better people because of their experiences in school. This is what I see as the purpose of education! This can take many different forms, but it ultimately comes back to always doing what is best for kids, even if it does not look like our experiences in school (which it shouldn’t, the world has changed, so should school). In order to make education relevant to our students we must embrace change and the opportunities that are available in today’s connected world. Find a way to inspire your students and to spark their curiosity for learning, wondering, exploring, and becoming leaders. As George states, “If students leave school less curious than when they started, we have failed them.”

Hogan, Aaron (@aaron_hogan). "'If students leave school less curious than when they started, we have failed them.' #InnovatorsMindset via @gcouros." 12 January 2016. Tweet.

We must also consider that innovation is incremental. We do not have to scrap everything and start anew. Most educators are innovating on a daily basis, they just don’t view it that way. Every time you try something new to reach a student, you are innovating. Every time you try to connect students to a new resource, you are innovating. Now we all need to build on our existing innovations and keep pushing ourselves one step further and move from your point A to your point B. Start small by taking one or two measured risks in your classroom and build from there.

With this thought, I want to encourage teachers everywhere to be more dog. Don’t act the way teachers always have, do what you think is best, be adventurous, embrace change, and open up a new world for yourself and your students. As you seek the bone to motivate your students, connect with other dogs and spread your ideas, not just for adjacent possible, but for adjacent powerful! Start the snowball rolling!



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