Tag Archives: Innovation

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I've been thinking about the session 1 F2F homework and the direction for my action plan this past month, but I haven't felt that I was in a place to really articulate a 'blog worthy' plan just yet.   I am in my second year of  Cohort 21 however, and the 'Cohort Effect' messaging is getting through... "that's ok"!  That I am thinking about it, showing up and collecting ideas and insights in my daily practice and in conversation with my peers.

Twice in the last week I have been moved in the direction of my action plan ideas by a prompt.  I habitually collect prompts that resonate with my personal / professional thinking and mood; they could be pictures, pieces of writing, artworks or quotations.  I have found the use of a prompt to be helpful in the classroom for nudging students in the right direction, so why not for myself?

I know a number of us receive Seth Godin's daily blog in our inboxes - that was an excellent piece of advice I picked up from @gnichols & @jmedved last year.  Recently a couple of entries have really struck a chord - today his piece on 'two kinds of careening' ( https://seths.blog/  ) focusses on the the ideas of  being out on a limb trying new things and what is possible when we act 'as if' before we are sure.  I feel like that is me presently.  I am immersed in an ocean of 'new things' in my new work as 'innovation support'.  There is an army of new digital tools to explore, new hardware to learn how to use  and the potential of unlimited idea generation around how to take old projects in new directions ... how to 'innovate'.   And that word is so far, my direction.  What does it mean?  How does it apply to education.  I am after the explicit ... how do teachers embody this mindset, how do students?  I am a Geographer and so I am looking for a 'map' for this journey.  And that is what I don't presently have; that fuels some anxiety, but also excitement.  Without a map, you have to reach out to others, make connections, find landmarks, be a 'wayfinder'.  This approach virtually ensures adventure and exploration and - FUN.

So, there are times at the moment as I 'wayfind' and try things in my classroom and in collaboration with other teachers  that I am 'acting as if'. But I relish the exhilaration of being in this place and creating this map as I go.

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... after my year as a 'Cohorter'.  I began to see myself differently.  I began to believe that I could do things.  Crazy, RIDICULOUS things.   I began Cohort21 last fall with a sense of trepidation; I did not consider myself tech-savvy, I didn't know what a 'tweet deck' was or how to use Google Forms ... but I was curious.  A little encouragement from @lmcbeth and I decided to take the plunge - into a community that as @gvogt recently posited (and I agree) is "the gold standard of a supporting culture".  My journey of the last year is documented in this blog up to the end of last spring; and that's when a funny thing happened.  I was asked if I would join a team of tech-integrators to provide innovation support for teachers at my school.  "But I don't know how to code!" I exclaimed!  Hmmm.  I went home.  I told my husband.  He laughed. I thought about it.

I thought about it some more.  I asked questions. I wanted to do it.  I REALLY wanted to do it and I wasn't even scared!  That is what I believe the leaders of this experience would call 'The Cohort Effect'.  I have read much about Carol Dweck's 'Growth Mindset' and have challenged myself to ensure that I helped my students develop this type of approach to their learning; but until I became part of Cohort 21, I'm not sure that I consciously challenged myself to adopt this mindset.  So, I said yes.  And now, I am as some unknown person once told me: "building the plane in the air". This is a very foreign way to approach teaching for me, but I am learning that 'just-in-time' knowledge and skills delivery may be a good approach to teaching and learning in the 21st century.

Over the summer I undertook training in Design Thinking at the Nueva School in San Mateo California, with a great group of educators - many of who were Computer Science teachers.  It was in Palo Alto that I snapped the feature image for this post at the 'Institute for the Future' 

It did seem ridculous to me at first that I should be asked join a team of tech-savvy teachers in a support role.  But the more I thought about it, the less ridiculous it seemed.  Strategically, we are moving towards a more 'innovative' teaching and learning environment at Branksome Hall, and when I think about how George Couros (Educator, author and consultant) defines innovation as “a way of thinking that creates something new and better"   and the idea that it is borne out of “invention" (something totally new) or “iteration” ( a change of something that already exists) I have come to realize that innovation is a multi-faceted approach to teaching and learning, and furthermore something that under this definition, I am actually extremely passionate about.  Much of my action plan this year will center around exploring the application of this definition to my work in the classroom and as a member of our newly minted 'Innovation Support Team'.

I am beyond excited about continuing my Cohort 21 adventure this year in the role of Coach; but I also value my simultaneous role of learner and look forward to the many conversations ahead and the destinations that are as yet blissfully unknown.  Onwards!