Category Archives: ossemooc

Starting From Scratch #InnovatorsMindset

I have been honoured to listen in and have conversations around my book “The Innovator’s Mindset” with educators all over, but as well as a book club initiated in Ontario (although others from around the world are participating).

Currently, they are doing a “blog hop”, where many are sharing their thoughts to the following question:


This is based on one of the questions that I posed in the book.

Here are my thoughts, not necessarily on what I would do from scratch, but why I asked the question in the first place.

When I hear people talk about their current realities in schools, I often ask them, “If you were to start school from scratch, what would you do here?” The reason I ask them that is basically to get them thinking about why they are doing the practice in the first place, and could they change it?  A lot of times we create a utopian vision of what a school could look like, ignoring what we can do now.

This idea was really sparked in me today, while listening to my friend and colleague, Jeff Zoul, discuss my book on a podcast, and what resonated with him. What is interesting was what he shared regarding my book, that in turned pushed my thinking. He talked about the idea of “transformation versus innovation”, and he made a distinct difference.  Transformation of a system takes everyone and is an all encompassing task, yet he shared his belief that a teacher in their own classroom can be innovative today or tomorrow.  They don’t need to wait for other things to fall in place, they can make it happen.

Katie Martin talks about these differences:

There is no substitute for a teacher who designs authentic, participatory, and relevant learning experiences for her unique population of students.   The role of the teacher is to inspire learning and develop skills and mindsets of learners. A teacher as designer and facilitator should continually evolve with resources, experiences, and the support of a community.  It is becoming increasingly clear that we don’t necessarily need to transform the role of teachers, rather create a culture that inspires and empowers teachers to innovate in the pursuit of providing optimal learning experiences for their students.

This work, however, requires leadership who can develop and sustain systems to support new learning and a culture that values the process and refining new ideas. As a strong believer in working from strengths rather than deficits, the 8 Characteristics of the Innovators Mindset have also helped me to think about innovation as building on what works in schools.  As many have pointed out, transformation can imply that something is wrong and needs to be fixed. My reflection has helped me deepen my thinking and clarify the language I use to mirror my beliefs and practices that develop characteristics of individuals that lead to a culture of innovation rather a top down transformation of a system.

We might not be able to build a school from scratch, but we have ownership on what we can do right now to make things better for our kids.  That is why I believe the concept of the “Innovator’s Mindset” is so crucial.

8 Characteristics of the Innovator's Mindset


If you want to read some others thoughts on this topic, please feel free to look below.

Paul Mcguire

Amit Mehotra

Patrick Miller

Stacey Wallwin

Leigh Cassell

Tina Zita

Mark W. Carbone

Jennifer Casa-Todd