Saturday, September 24, 2016

Change as a Fulcrum for Innovation #IMMOOC


Change - it is sometimes welcomed, but more often feared as a negative impact on one's own environment. In fact, change occurs regularly whether we initiate it or not...and when you think about it, there's considerable value being a part of the change's direction and purpose, rather than being a 'victim' of it. 

With a resume of nearly forty years in the world of education, witnessing (and instigating) change has been the norm. While I welcome it - especially as an alternative to the 'status quo' - I much prefer to have some influence creating, molding, and guiding it. And, simply put, change is a prerequisite for growth, for innovation - it is the catalyst for creating our futures. 

After reading the Introduction to George Couros' The Innovator's Mindset, there were a number of concepts/writings that resonate. 
  • "We forget that if students leave school less curious than when they started, we have failed them."
    • Working with postsecondary technical/vocational and adult (GED) students, there is a strong and common characteristic of being disenfranchised from the 'norm'. The curiosity appears to have left their world long ago - at least in the traditional sense. Our students have not 'fit' into the conventional sense of education, but that doesn't make them any less worthy of learning. 
    • Perhaps we have failed them in the past, but with an incredible persistence, our students come back for more. We owe them an environment of inquiry and respectful personalization.
  • "Think about it: we have the world at our fingertips, the ability to connect and create with people around the globe through so many mediums. Yet what do most schools focus on when talking about technology? 'Cyberbullying' and 'digital safety.' Yes, these are important concepts that should be discussed, but we need to go way beyond that." 
    • Yes and yes! We definitely need to weave these concepts into our educational structures, but do it in such a way that global connections and creations are prioritized.
    • More than six years ago, Tania Sheko (Australia), Sinikka Laakio-Whybrow (Finland) and I (Naples, FL, USA) set up an opportunity for students to connect in an image posting/commenting conversation via Flickr. Though this is a blog post or two of its own, I mention it here as an example of connections being created across time zones. 
  • "When we tap into the power of we over me, we have the potential for what Steven Johnson refers to as the 'adjacent possible,' creating new aspirations and a powerful vision of what school could and should really be for our organization as learners." 
    • Love the 'adjacent possible' inferences!! But what is it (really)???
    • The process of reinventing ourselves - as teachers, as an educational institution, as a culture - is an ongoing challenge. The quality improvement cycle model is the basis for recreating ourselves to make our work/life/culture better - and it works when you are empowered (whether by others or internally) to see it as a priority. 
Change is both simple and complex - it is the fulcrum for innovation. Change is a daily part of life and thus, we can capitalize on innovation every day as well. 

Creative Commons licensed photo credit to Charles Strebor on Flickr


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Preamble #IMMOOC Creating and Empowering an "Innovator's Mindset"

After a long dormancy, a renewal (of sorts) is in the making here. It is not like I wasn't learning every day nor was my photography put aside, but the sharing piece was definitely amiss. I missed it, but was relieved of the pressure I created for myself. A focus for the next six weeks will be on my commitment to the #IMMOCC as related to George Couros' The Innovator's Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent and Lead a Culture of Creativity

So on a day where our memories recount the unthinkable loss of 9/11, I reflect on the core values that impact the reason for living, the basis for my career, and the guiding forces for day-to-day decisions. A rarity to take the time to dig deep - and though, I will, it won't necessarily be truly expressed in my words - nor my image - but it will be imprinted and shared to some degree. My core values:

  • Lifelong learning (yes, a cliche, but I'm still a believer) creates positive change and with change, there is growth (despite the challenges). Without change/growth, we stagnate and eventually wither away.
  • Connections - not just the relationships one counts with regards to family, friends and acquaintances, but connections with 
    • people (virtual and face-to-face, including those spontaneous ones that etch an emotion in our hearts),
    • nature/environment (a true spiritual one that underscores the cycle of life and the respectful interdependency required for survival)
    • content/ideas/art (for lack of better words - being inspired by connected concepts that propel one's thinking)
    • history (our culture and heritage, our past and our learnings from the past)
    • ourselves (yes!)
  • Authenticity - I am guilty of using silence to avoid genuine interaction (often confused with my introversion) but I strive to create honest situations that are devoid of "niceties" for the sake of being nice. There is a certain amount of conflict for me here as I want to acknowledge those who need the external feedback, but I want to do so with integrity and that is sometimes difficult. 
Creative Commons licensed photo credit to colemama on Flickr

Why is innovation so crucial in education? How will it impact our students and ourselves long term?

Innovation is change and it is crucial in ALL phases of life - a fundamental ingredient to describe 'living'! Without it, are we really living? It is not only essential for short term, but for long range as the change process is cyclical - how do we learn from it? And, just as important (maybe more so), is the institution of education itself in need of innovation - perhaps, the act of learning is a better focus and yet, innovation, education, learning, students and my core values are all intertwined.