This is probably not the blog post it’s supposed to be. You see, I am participating in the Innovator’s Mindset MOOC with many, many other educators from all over the United States. A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course; in this case it is a book study of Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros, that I am completing with a ton of people I do not know (massive), that I do not have to pay anything for (open) on the Internet through blogs, Twitter, Voxer, and YouTube (online). This week we are discussing Part I: Innovation in Education Chapter 1: What Innovation Is and Isn’t and we are supposed to reflect on thought provoking questions at the end of the chapter. This blog does not answer any of those questions; hopefully I will not have lost you right now.
Through the many online tools I mentioned previously, I have heard from Instructional Coaches, Assistant Superintendents, Superintendents, from George Couros (the author of the book we are studying) and even from Dave Burgess author of Teach Like a Pirate, about how we must innovate, about how we must inspire our teachers and organization to change or be forever known as the school that failed our children. With this infusion of leaders talking about inspiring changes in those they lead, my mindset has been framed to think of teachers that I have shared PD with in the past on a variety of topics, movements, philosophies, and so forth. So although there are so many amazing ideas in this first chapter, the one that has struck me, that I keep coming back to, in the frame of mind these leaders have had me reflecting in, is the introduction to Part One:
“Examples will be shared, not with the intent to dictate what schools and educators should do, but to provoke thought and inspire you to create your own innovative approach in your practice as an individual and for your organization.”
So many times I have sat at PD and listened to many inspiring, and let’s keep it real, not so inspiring, speakers and heard teachers and others in education say “But I’m not like that, I’m not him. I can’t be loud like him, or so boisterous, I don’t have acting chops! I want to inspire but I’m just not him!” I’ve looked at these teachers, some flustered, some disappointed in themselves, some on the verge of tears, some shutting down because they feel like they’ve failed and they haven’t even tried yet, and I’ve tried to communicate that the one thing students can detect in an instant is a fake. That they should take what we are learning and make it their own, if they are feeling inspired by the teaching piece of the PD, then that’s what they need! They don’t need to know magic tricks, or have a major in Drama, or know how to tell a joke. They don’t have to be technology gurus, or have a social media account in every single social media outlet out there. They just have to grab a hold of what inspired them from this particular PD or speaker and make it theirs. If they are here at this workshop it should be because they want to better their practices, they feel the need to change in order to honor the needs of their students, they are on the right track and the speaker isn’t asking them to become a puppet! But you see, coming from me sitting at the table next to them, possibly someone they don’t know, as real and as honest as I am being, it doesn’t fully convince them. Coming from George Couros, someone who has proven his mettle to so many, it might help these educators understand what might have been implicit in every workshop, PD, and conference they’ve been to, but never explicitly said to them.
The next time I am sitting next to educators that feel they have to become the speaker, emulate him or her to the T, I will pull up this quote from The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros, share it with them while patting them on the shoulder and telling them reassuringly “See? They don’t want you to be them. They just want you to make the decision to be the best you can be for our kids! They want to inspire you, not replace your soul with theirs. You can totally do this!”, and hopefully this time, they’ll give it a go.