Category Archives: sylvia duckworth

Innovation Is Not a One Time Event

I have had a lot of interesting conversations about the notion of “The Innovator’s Mindset“, and this graphic sharing the characteristics (courtesy of Sylvia Duckworth):

Image created by @SylviaDuckworth

Image created by @SylviaDuckworth

One of the things that have to really see is that innovation in school is not about a day, a week, or a class.  Although creating those experiences are great, if you look at these characteristics above, how can we promote them through what we do everyday in school?

Empathetic – Have students write from the perspective of a character and understand how they would communicate within the modern time frame or in their community.

Problem Finders/Problem Solvers – Look at the work of Dan Meyer and others and have students start out by looking for problems in their world, as opposed to simply getting them to solve them from a textbook.

Risk-Takers – How do we get students to try different ways to share their learning through assessments, and as David Jakes would say, take “calculated risks“.

Networked – Have students look at collaboration as something that is both in and out of the classroom, and help them connect with experts locally and globally (and by the way, experts could be other students in the same classroom).

Observant – Taking time to be mindful and noticing what is in the room, helps students to become more aware and create connections to their own learning.

Creators – If students really want to go deep, it is what they create in their classroom where powerful learning really happens.  Will kids learn more about coding if they watch a video about it, or watch a video and then create something because of it?

Resilient – Understanding that learning is about ups and downs, but having students share not only their learning, but the process of learning. Video has made this a lot easier for students to share this process.

Reflection – This is not something we do not do enough in our schools.  Do we take the time to have our students (and ourselves) make connections to their own learning? We often give ideas and then have them collaborate immediately as opposed to gathering their own thoughts. If learning is truly personal, then we need time to internalize (this is why I blog so much). How do we have students make their own connections to learning through the explicit act of reflection?

If you look at these characteristics, and the examples that I have given you, these are things that can be done all of the time, not simply as an event. Being explicit about how we do this will help our students become the thinkers and innovators that our world needs not only for the future, but also today.

Staying the Same is Ultimately Falling Behind

Almost one year ago to the day, I wrote a post entitled, “5 Questions You Should Ask Your Leader“.  Sylvia Duckworth created the image below to go along with the post:


I was reminded of the last question recently, “What will be your fingerprints on the building after you leave?” Someone shared with me the idea that they had hoped their new principal coming into the school wouldn’t change much, and just let them keep doing what they are doing.  In our world today, maintaining is falling behind, and reminds me of the quote from John C. Maxwell, “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.”

Now I know that consistency is important in any organization, and I am not advocating a 180 degree turn in buildings when a new principal or educators walks into the building.  I also don’t believe that immediate change is necessary as it is important to learn and build upon the strengths of the people already in the building, and for someone to understand the strengths of those that they serve, relationships must be built over time.  But if we truly want to grow as educators, my hope is that when new people arrive in our schools, they will push us to become better, no matter their position.  If you really think about it, would we be comfortable with a teacher that simply maintains the intelligence of the students they receive in any year?  We would expect growth of our students, as we should expect growth from ourselves.

So to the new people starting in your schools this year, what fingerprints will you leave after you are gone?  What change in trajectory will you have created not only in your students, but of your colleagues.  And to those that are hoping things just “stay the same”, I am reminded of the Einstein quote, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”