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Innovator's Mindset by George Couros (Part 3)

Wow! We are already on week 4 of this IMMOOC (Innovator's Mindset Massive Online Course) and I find myself thinking about the ideas in this book often. 

This week's reading has a number of pages dog-eared and I am not really sure how to put them into one post that answers the question "how do we create conditions that empower learners," but here goes....

I am just back from the CUE Conference in Palm Springs, which is always a highlight of my year. I get so energized by the buzz of the attendees, the enthusiasm of the presenters, the excitement of tech-lovers-users, learning new "stuff," and the potential for what we can do for our learners, whether they are teens or adults. Since I was at the conference with tech coach colleagues/friends, we did a lot of talking about how to bring that enthusiasm back to our school district and how to get our teachers to turn to more student-centered learning rather than teacher-centered teaching. 

On page 125 George says that "[t]eachers often design classroom experiences that mimic the school culture and the learning opportunities they've experienced." This is so true; most of the social studies teachers that I work with learned from teachers who lectured. It's what we know! To turn that upside down is scary and takes time and I need to remember that. I am running a PD day for our social studies teachers in a couple weeks I am planning it as a student-centered day (with teachers as students) in which they work their way through a HyperDoc, post to Padlet and Flipgrid, and work in small groups. I hope by the end of the day they will realize that I "taught" a class of 70 people in the style which I hope they will teach their students. If I can do it with 70, they can do it with 35. :-)

Part 3 continues on with ideas on how to change course, which is what I am trying to do in our district. I need to remember to emphasize to our teachers that we should be doing what's best for our students and that which improves learning (page 147). Spoon feeding information that is available in a textbook or on Google, does not help our students to become critical thinkers, problem-solvers, or adults who are able to be creative and collaborate with co-workers.

One of my activities for our PD day is to ask the question When was a time that you felt most engaged in learning? I tested it out on my 79 year-old professor father, afraid he would say "graduate school" or "college lectures." To my delight, he immediately said, "when I collaborated with my colleagues." Here's to hoping the answers from my colleagues are as wonderful.

In amongst the thoughts of a shift to student-centered learning, collaboration, creativity, etc I am trying to also instill the idea of sharing our work with one another. So many times teachers feel that they have spent hours and days creating an amazing lesson or unit and they don't want to hand it over to others who "haven't contributed or done any work." I get it. I have definitely felt that way. But in the past two years, as a social studies coach, I promised myself that I would create curriculum for teachers and share it as widely as possible. And guess what? It feels great! With that in mind, I love George's idea of a district hashtag and having teachers tweet out their awesome lessons, units, and happy classroom moments. I think I am going to work with our district's public information officer to get that going....

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