Posted in #Immooc, culture, Learning

#IMMOOC–The Innovative Educator

Innovation is more than just inventing something new.

Innovation is creative and messy. It is about creating a space for experimentation, failures, change for the better. Critical questions to ask when looking for innovation: Is it new? Is it better? How can you use innovation in teaching? How can students use it to learn?  We have to create an environment of uncertainty and unpredictability.  If you know every day when you show up to class EXACTLY what is going to happen (think about it from the lens of a student–I’m going to come in, sit down, do my warm up, listen to my teacher and take notes, then leave)….what does your mindset become? Is there room for real learning? For experimenting? For failing? For questioning?  Are you looking for new things? Are you learning new things?

If you are stuck in a rut, in a predictable cycle of teaching, how do you get out of it?

Start with some critical questions (from Ch. 2 of The Innovator’s Mindset):

critical questions picture

Have you asked yourself these questions lately? Couros says, on page 41 of The Innovator’s Mindset:  “The innovator’s mindset starts with empathy for our students (which is why the questions above are so crucial). Equally important is the desire to create something BETTER.”

So, what have you looked at with fresh eyes today? Have you asked yourself, “Is it new? Is it better? Is there a better way?”

If you need more inspiration, check out the #IMMOOC hashtag on twitter. Find some new blogs to read! Learn, grow, then reflect and post your own blogs!  Or you can just read The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros. Or for shorter reading, check out the 10 Commandments of Innovative Teaching from AJ Juliani.

Posted in culture, Politics

Reflecting on the elections…

My last two blogs posts were about Eva Kor and meeting her in Corpus Christi. Stick with me on this post to see how they are connected.

 

In light of the political climate, I have been reflecting a lot on how people interact with each other. I’ve watched a lot of news stories, read a variety of news articles, talked to family members, coworkers, friends, and acquaintances. I’ve read facebook posts and facebook comments.  I followed twitter conversations and news article comments. All of those have taken me down a path of reflection–that reflection relates to Eva Kor and also relates to the book the leadership team on my campus is reading (How to Create a Culture of Achievement in your school and classroom).

Relationships and words are crucial to us as people. In casual conversations, heated debates, confrontational arguments, working with students and with teachers, the art of teaching, giving presentations, writing news articles, commenting on facebook posts, retweeting and quoting tweets–IN ALL OF THESE, the words you choose can take a person from feeling like they can achieve their dreams at the top of the highest mountain to the bottom of a deep, dark pit within seconds.  We set the tone. We must be mindful and have good intentions when interacting with each other.  Language is very powerful in building growth mindsets, impacting teaching, growing as individuals, and changing student achievement. We need to teach students how to talk to one another not just at one another.  We need to work on finding means to contribute to solutions and not just contributing to the problem.  The power of your words can shape learning!  

So back to Eva Kor, here’s a bit of her story:

Eva Mozes Kor was only ten years old when she was taken to Auschwitz. She lost sight of her parents and two older sisters within minutes of stepping off the train onto the platform at Auschwitz. Her parents and two older sisters were taken to the gas chamber. Eva and her twin, Miriam, were sent to the man known as the Angel of Death: Doctor Joseph Mengele.  She and Miriam survived his medical testing.

Her survival is amazing. Her life lessons are beyond moving, and her forgiveness is extraordinary. The life lessons she shared with us in Corpus summed up:

Lesson #1:

Never ever give up on your dreams.

Lesson #2:

Rid the world of prejudice.

Lesson #3:

Forgive the Nazis.

How do you feel about these lessons?  Do they apply to your teaching? Your learning? Your mindset? Your political views?  Can we achieve Lesson #2 in the United States?  I know we can try.