The Innovator's Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativityby Published 20 Oct 2015
|The Innovator's Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity.pdf|
|Publisher||Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.|
Kids walk into schools full of wonder and questions. How you, as an educator, respond to students’ natural curiosity can help further their own exploration and shape the way they learn today and in the future.
The traditional system of education requires students to hold their questions and compliantly stick to the scheduled curriculum. But our job as educators is to provide new and better opportunities for our students. It’s time to recognize that compliance doesn’t foster innovation, encourage critical thinking, or inspire creativity—and those are the skills our students need to succeed.
In THE INNOVATOR'S MINDSET, George Couros encourages teachers and administrators to empower their learners to wonder, to explore—and to become forward-thinking leaders.
If we want innovative students, we need innovative educators. In other words, innovation begins with you. Ultimately, innovation is not about a skill set but about mindset.
THE INNOVATOR'S MINDSET is for you if:
•You are a superintendent, district administrator, or principal who wants to empower your staff to create a culture of innovation.
•You are a school leader—at any level—and want help students and educators become their personal best.
•You are a teacher who wants to create relevant learning experiences and help students develop the skills they need to be successful.
THE INNOVATOR'S MINDSET includes practical suggestions for unleashing your students’ and teachers’ talent. You’ll also read encouraging accounts of leaders and learners who are innovating “inside the box.”
You'll be inspired to:
•Connect with other innovative educators
•Support teachers and leaders as learners
•Tap into the strengths of your learning community
•Create ongoing opportunities for innovation
•Seek more effective methods for measuring progress
•And, most importantly, embrace change and use it to do something amazing
The Innovator's Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity Reviews
While the ideas in this book are mostly solid, I don't think any of them are truly new. It is mostly a recapitulation of modern professional development that as educators we ought to use internet resources to improve our classroom environments and teaching techniques all the while being sure to use technology with students in a transformative way (i.e. giving students tasks or possibilities impossible without technology, e.g. crowdsource a simple social survey and ask a sociologist via social media to interpret the results) rather than in a replacement way (what Couros would call the "thousand-dollar" pencil - a device used solely for word processing).
I think my biggest problem with the book is Couros seems to say "Try this idea! Try that idea!" and then "Try this idea - it's the same as the previous two!" over and over. I understand the excitement about the possibilities afforded by the internet but as a tech teacher who gets his kids on devices much of every class I am currently more interested in how I can use tech or screens Less in my classroom and restore some old-school teaching methods emphasizing face-to-face interaction and the development of students' soft skills and Emotional Quotient (as opposed to their IQ - idea taken from Bernabei's Top 20 Teachers book). Couros doesn't touch on these genuine problems for the modern teacher in this text.
This book makes me excited to get into the classroom and do the work. I appreciate the author’s thoughts on new technology and how it isn’t best practice to throw it in there and call it innovation. Technology should be incorporated in a purposeful way and tinkering and exploring is a must to discover that purpose, not just for learners, but educators as well. Trust students and what they are capable of and watch them reach their full potential.
I've just finished reading George Couros ' "The Innovator's Mindset" and I think it's time that we addressed the elephant in the room. The word "mindset" is so five minutes ago. There I said it. What I mean is that putting the words innovator and mindset together in the same phrase is oxymoronic...it's a contradiction in terms, like jumbo shrimp, military intelligence (ouch). Doesn't the very word mindset imply that the mind is formed and finished? George does acknowledge that the precursor to his book was influenced by Carol Dweck's book "Mindset" which anyone who is anyone knows has rocked the business and education worlds leading to great new conversations about grit and resilience. George leaps from here and says that (spoiler alert) the innovator's mindset relies on the iterative process of finding problems, networking ideas, observing, creating, being resilient when faced with challenges, and being reflective in order to deepen the process. But I can't help but think about Chris Hadfield, whose ideas I support when he says that we need to Prepare for Failure:
I like the idea of having a calm confidence and being ready to be flexible. The best time for my learning is when I've created flow, and Hadfield acknowledges this in his book "An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth". But when the flow is really flowing, and a problem arises, I smile at the challenge...like a good question in a crossword puzzle...and my creativity kicks in and I work through it happily. That flow is the culture I aim to create in my library learning commons every day....the messy, random happiness of flow. The only time that I 'discipline' other students is when they interrupt another person's flow and I say out loud: "You're interrupting my learning" and ask them to stop. One of the keys to my daily success is being prepared for anything to happen and I think being ready to happily go with the flow is one of my strengths. It takes a lot of work though...often in the quiet moments outside of the school day, to be this ready for anything. More than optimism or innovation, I think the future of my son's success will be his ability to adapt to new situations. This adaptability may require optimism and innovation but those might not be on his path. It takes more than a mindset and more research is being written on this topic:
a) Canadian author Paul Tough has written this article as precursor to his latest book: Helping Children Succeed http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/a... in which he questions the teachability of resilience and instead suggests we aim to reduce the effect of socio-economic status on learning.
b) #BIT15Reads author Jose Vilson lead me to see how systemic racism is a major factor in the outcome of students. An emerging voice of educators see this quest for teaching grit as an enormous example of cultural bias: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Digita...
The best part of Couros' book is when he nails the conditions for a culture of innovation in schools and these 5 points could sustain me for the rest of my teaching career:
Focusing on strengths-based leadership
I could do this every single day with anyone of my relationships...focus on peoples' strengths.
2. Allow learners' needs to drive our decisions
I need to acknowledge that learners are all of us, adults and students, that are working within their own process and my daily goal is to enable that process in any way that I can.
3. Narrowing our focus and engaging in deep learning
I need to reiterate the why and the how as much more than the what in my teaching. The what is often Google-able and I want to learn and teach more deeply than that. I've seen leadership try to make this what so vague and inconsequential that the why and how can be suited to any sort of learning target within this umbrella what that is called a learning target or big idea....I'm not convinced that this is the right answer. If we truly believe in the content of our curriculum, then we need to see the big goal as a continuum (as Chris Hadfield said) and see each one of our content concepts as a direct stepping stone to that idea.
4. Embracing an open culture
Who am I to dictate how someone else should learn? I think what George is getting at is the messiness of trying to implement and measure a truly inquiry-based project that is based on student voice and choice. We need to be open to and confident about capturing and measuring student learning in a variety of modes and mediums. This means that I also have to be really confident about what I want to measure in order to recognize it when I see it in a new form.
5. Create learning experiences for educators that we would love to see in the classroom
Would I like to take my own course? Would I like to be in this atmosphere? Every day the answer needs to be yes.
I added The Innovator's Mindset to the #BIT16Reads book club list as a way to add a leadership voice to the question: How do we create a culture in schools to best integerate technology? and I think this book does so very well. Moving education forward isn't an elephant that we can eat all at once. It's a very complex beast. Creating conditions for innovation, which may or may not include technology, is best for learning.
Sidenote: As a librarian, as a researcher, I would really like an index in George Couros' book. I'd like it to refer to every outside reference George uses all in 1 place, and every big idea that is mentioned. It's one of the first things on my list when I buy non-fiction for my library....if there aren't embedded tools for useability, it could be more useful.
Look, this is tough. This is one of those edu books meant to get you fired up about thinking a certain, new way about education. And, honestly, my district and I are already there in this process. (Couros would argue, and does in the final chapter, that you're never "there" and must seek continuous improvement. I would agree.) So, those aspects of this work are valuable to educational professionals still looking for the "why." I'll give thos book that. The "how" of this I just...I don't know it was off. I felt that major parts of this were part of an extended commercial for Twitter and hashtags. I thought that there was a lot of "this so totally worked in my district therefore it will for yours" types of statements. I rarely buy in to an edu book that relies on larger blanket statements than more meaty research or explanations. If you want to get fired up about innovating your classrooms with both the "why" and "how" I highly encourage you to go read Off the Clock, which I previously reviewed this year.
This book has many great ideas and things to think about for today's educators!