Monday, February 8, 2016

The Innovator's Mindset Week 2: Chapters 1 and 2

After reading the first two chapters of The Innovator's Mindset, has your definition of the "innovation" changed? If so, how? What are your thoughts about having an innovator's mindset in your school or classroom? Are there other thoughts or questions about the reading you'd like to share with other participants?

It has been great to see quite a few new names along with many familiar ones in the comments. Welcome, everyone, to the conversation! A few housekeeping things before finishing up this week's post. If you are joining in the conversation for the first time this week, be sure you go back to last week's post and introduce yourself. Also, register for the book club by completing this registration form. This is a new addition with this book club and will provide me with all of the participant's names, schools/corporations, and email addresses so I can send out PGPs at the end of the book club. As I've been looking through comments I've noticed a few people's names are showing up as "Unknown" when they comment to blog posts. Please ensure that you have completed your Google profile. I need to know who is making comments so that I can award PGPs at the end of the book club. 

For next week we will be finishing up the first section, reading chapter 3, "Characteristics of the Innovator's Mindset."

118 comments:

  1. Yes, my mindset has changed. When Georg Couros talks about would I want to be a learner in my own classroom? I thought about that, and in some ways, yes I would because I feel I teach to all my students, I try many different ways to get my students to understand what they are learning, but I also know that I need to look outside of what I normally do and try to focus on what might be the way that student learns. Can they give me answers orally, or do problems in their head and give me answers? Does it always have to be paper and pencil? Can they look beyond pencil and paper and find another way to solve their problem?

    I would love to have an innovator's mindset in my classroom!

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    1. I am in the same boat as you as looking outside the box and focusing on what might be the way the kids learn more than how I feel it needs to be taught.

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    2. I wrote this post before reading this book and think it's so relevant to what we do every day. Would we purchase a ticket to a class? Would we even want to be learning what we are teaching our students? Think from a student perspective and use that to create innovation. http://andrewkauffman.org/2016/01/01/would-you-buy-a-ticket-to-your-lesson/

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    3. I also thought that this was a good question to ask myself-would I want to be a learner in my own classroom? If I could use this question to guide lesson planning, it would be a good start.

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    4. There were some definite similarities to this part and Teach Like a Pirate. Burgess talks a lot about the learning and generating excitement. It is a great quick read if you haven't read it.

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    5. I loved that question, as well! I try to pick activities that I would enjoy and think that my students will enjoy!

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  2. I like what Mr. Couros says about technology not equalling innovation. We can't just assume that we have iPads, Chromebooks, Smartboards, etc, and that automatically breeds a culture of innovation. Those tools are just that--means to an innovative end. A true innovator changes the way we use the simplest and the most advanced educational aids to meet the needs of learners.

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    1. "Different for the sake of different can be a waste of time and may even leave us worse off than where we started" (Couros 26).

      I love the way you put it in your last sentence!

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    2. I had the same thought as you. While reading, I really looked at how schools are integrating technology, but is that truly innovation?

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    3. I also agree with this thought. I know there are so many more ways I could use my technolgy in my room towards true innovation.

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    4. As technology emerged and became more available to teachers and students, we believed we were being innovative by using technology. Reading this book has opened so many more possibilities.

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    5. His comment made me realize that I often associate innovation with technology...I think that comes from the bombardment of advertising about the next greatest computer, phone, tablet, etc.

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    6. I totally agree! I really liked the "outcome" idea. I started asking myself "what is the outcome and how am I going to get my students to the outcome. Tech should not be the outcome but a tool to get you there.

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    7. I absolutely agree with this! I have been a part of a technology committee to go 1-to-1 and I struggled with the idea of technology in the classroom as being innovative. It's only innovative if we allow the students opportunities to explore and think in new ways. Teaching math, I have struggled with taking the standards and letting kids run. The technology we provide them is only a small step in creating an innovative environment.

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    8. I really appreciated the comment about his mother and father and how they changed over time. The connection or disconnect of innovation and technology is a good topic of conversation as our school works with the ever challenge of technology integration.

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    9. 100% agree! Technology does not equal innovation! It is about how we use what we have!

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    10. Absolutely! Technology is everywhere! How we implement in our classrooms and how students use it to become learners and teachers is innovation!

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  3. Reading these chapters, I thought a lot about our district professional growth. The word "innovation" appears often in the documents discussing goal setting, growth plans, and evaluations. This is the standard we hold ourselves to, so it is important that we are defining the term in the same way. I love how simply Couros defines it for us: new and better. This became a mantra for me as soon as I read it.

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    1. I am with you Diana! "New and better" does not necessarily mean that it must involve technology. Even though technology may be very helpful to create innovation within your classroom, building, or district. I guess some times you really don't have to use LARGE words to get your point across. :)

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    2. This resonated with me, as well.

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  4. My original thought of innovation has changed. I feel an innovator's mindset is a perfect fit into the classroom, especially with today's generation of students and learners. I really was inspired by the statement that compliance does not foster innovation. I know, at times, I can be guilty of exhibiting this mindset. "Innovation is not about stuff, its a way of thinking." really struck a chord with me as well. Our school just implemented one-to-one technology, before reading this section, I felt as if our school was innovated. However, my mindset on this has changed.

    I am eager to continue to see into what an innovators mindset is and how I can execute this in my own classroom and community.

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    1. Desiray,

      I also can see where I can be guilty of exhibiting the same mindset. I feel this book is helpful in reminding me of how to always look at my teaching styles every day.

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    2. With technology educators are able to recreate learning (Couros, 2015). The idea is to focus on students, not just learning. Technology could be transformational, and provides many opportunities for students and educators (Couros, 2015).

      Couros, G. (2015. The innovator's mindset: Empower learning, unleash talent, and lead a culture of creativity. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.

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  5. I liked several ideas...not just changing, but changing for the better, and what's better for our students. As a veteran male Gym/Health teacher, I've been determined to not get set in my ways, and this book comes along at the exact right time for me to continue to work on that. I also very much enjoyed the story of how George's father dealt bravely with so much change, and how we should not be fearful of what amounts to very minor changes.

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    1. It is very easy to get set in ways! I am finding this book dropped in my lap at the right time to. I think fear is often associated with change, as educators, we need set the model for hope is associated with change not fear.

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    2. YES CHANGE IS SCARY! But I think that is why supportive and encouraging administrators are so necessary. If we are to transform education and take chances, teachers have to feel OK with making mistakes. Success doesn't happen in a vacuum.

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  6. In chapter two the author talks about the separation between a fixed mindset and growth mindset. "With a fixed mindset, the learner doesn't believe he or she has the ability to play the piano. With a growth mindset, the learner believes that, with hard work and practice, the opportunity to play the piano is within the realm of his or her ability." After reading this, I paused and thought about what our school was innovating, one-to-one technology. But are we really innovating? I felt that my mindset has changed and I reflected on many of my students comments towards our eLearning day. Many didn't enjoy it and were in the fixed mindset. We want students to be in the growth mindset, however that starts with the teachers and school staff.

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    1. Kara, I agree with you. We have just recently gone 1:1. My school has supportive and encouraging administrators. But I know not every building is so fortunate. I am hopeful that we will begin seeing more innovations as we go. But that growth mindset has to begin with the administration and faculty.

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    2. I think it was more of change to them. I agree though the start to having a growth mindset starts with the staff empowering the students to innovate and grow.

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    3. As an administrator, I would be very interested in what practices you felt were really helpful in implementing 1:1 and that also helped you to feel supported by your admin. We are in the process of looking at 1:1 among other things as a district, and I am very curious as to what worked in other districts. Teacher perspective especially :)

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    4. I am interested to know what the students did not like about the elearning day. Did the teachers give the students the freedom to explore and learn outside the classroom, or was it more of a busy work day?

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  7. I believe there is a clear need for innovation in education. Students need to be able to problem-solve, analyze, think critically in order to be successful in the world, and it seems with so much emphasis on standardized tests, that the focus is on test prep, which doesn't necessarily include helping students learn how to think critically. The emphasis on test prep is frustrating to me as an educator, as a parent, and as a citizen of the world. What will the future be like "If education's leaders refuse to evaluate and stay in touch with students' needs..."? "...our institutions will fail, just like businesses that don't keep up with changing customers' needs." “We place such an emphasis on these scores, because of political mandates and the way teachers and schools are evaluated today, that it seems we’ve forgotten why our profession exists: to change--improve--lives.” The why? To make the world a better place (as cliche as it sounds).

    The author said, "Inspiration is one of the chief needs of today's students...to spark a curiosity that empowers students to learn on their own. To wonder. To explore. To become leaders. We forget that if students leave school less curious than when they started, we have failed them." It is clear that creativity and curiosity decreases in students as they go throughout school, and we need to find ways to get those back.

    The author says that innovation starts by asking questions. Here is a list of questions I created after reading the Introduction, Chapters 1 and 2:

    “Would I want to be a learner in my own classroom?”
    How can we build relationships with students?
    How can we get to know our students’ passions?
    How can we connect lessons to their lives?
    How can we connect students with others?
    How can we get student feedback throughout the year to make improvements for the current group of students?
    How can we “...create an experience where students are ‘knocking down the doors to get in.’”
    How can we “...innovate inside the box”?
    How can we “...develop learners and leaders who will create a better present and future”?
    How can we “move past ‘the way we have always done it,’ and create better learning experiences for our students than we had ourselves”?

    At first, innovation seems overwhelming, but when I consider the benefits and take the author’s advice that “This does not mean replacing everything we do, but we must being [sic] willing to look with fresh eyes at what we do and ask, ‘Is there a better way?’”

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    1. I couldn't agree more with your thoughts on standardized testing. This is not encouraging them to be better learners, it is encouraging them to be better test takers.

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    2. I also agree with your thoughts here (and glad you already expressed it better than I could have). Our students all too frequently are missing out on the joy of learning. As Couros says, we need to work "inside the box" rather than wait for new, external forces to "fix" things. We owe it to our students.

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    3. Well said! I am in awe of your post! One idea that I have spoken to my principal about is implementing Genius Hour into my classroom. I am appalled by the amount of standardized testing and the emphasis that is put on it, especially for test prep. To me, that is not teaching and learning. I want my students to be innovative, but it is hard to get them in that mindset, because they have been taught other ways. We need to begin implementing at a young age!

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    4. Thanks for the replies! And @April, thanks for the compliment. I'm intrigued by your idea of Genius Hour. Can you tell me what that would look like?

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    5. This post rang true on so many levels for me as well as brought out many emotions-- which caught me by surprise! I agree with your sentiments in testing but also using technology as a tool to creating new and fun activities that engage all kids at different levels in their learning. Simply putting the newest technology into a classroom is not the finished result but how we use it to grow students minds and allow them to explore and grow curiosity is the key to live long learners! Also, your list of questions was spot on-- I would love to have these each day as a reminder for myself and others as to how and why we teach!

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  8. There were many great points in the first chapters. The discussion about innovation and technology resonated with me. I have participated in many technology training sessions focused on improving my technology skills. The sessions typically teach me a new program to use or inform me about programs the students are secretly using that I should watch out for. What I do not always see is how the technology is changing the design, organization or implementation of what is being taught. Using Google Docs is great but is it any different than a student typing a paper 30 years ago? This discussion has allowed me to reflect on best practice and what is truly innovation.

    I also really enjoyed the different TED presentations he referenced as well. These are easy to access and can be shared with staff virtually or within a meeting. Thinking about starting with the "why" and moving toward the "what" and "how" is a different way to consider school. It might be a great way to rethink lesson planning.

    I loved the idea of "Identity Day." We often talk about making positive connections with our students and building stronger communities. As someone who works with students with special needs, this could be a powerful way to connect at risk students to their peers, teaches and schools. A teacher could secretly hide different learning objectives within this activity. The students would be excited and motivated to share a part of their lives. Thanks for the great idea!

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    1. I was also very taken by "Identity Day"! What a great way to bring out the passion kids have, and what a great vehicle for allowing them to bring their selves, their whole selves into the classroom. Isn't that the way we all want to be recognized?!!

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    2. I think it could be fun to do with a teaching staff as well. I know I would like to learn more about my colleagues. What if you found out that the person who annoyed you at school liked the same books you did. It could change the adult relationships as well.

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    3. Too bad there's not a like button I could use here. Great idea!

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  9. I love when Couros talks about how change is the opportunity to do something amazing. I feel as a teacher it is easy to get in the routine of doing the same thing year to year without much change. So far, the reading has been very inspiring to want to have an innovator's mindset. I think it is very important to remember what he said about everyone wanting to experience innovation but to experience it, you actually have make it happen in your classroom. It really made me think when he asked about being a learner in my own classroom. I know there are things I need to do differently in my room before I can even begin to say I have an innovator's mindset. I am looking forward to learning how to get to that point.

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    1. I agree with what you said about getting stuck in the routine year after year. I think it is human nature to stay with what is comfortable and change is sometimes messy and very hard to accomplish. I know I need to examine what I am doing in my classroom and ask myself if it is what is best for students, and if I would want to be a student in my classroom.

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    2. It is comforting to know that other educators are feeling the same way I am! Reading about being innovative is one thing, but implementing it is a totally different thing! It is definitely overwhelming. I have taught several different grade levels and always feel like I am tackling new things, but just using what I remember from how I learned it. The world is a very different place than when I was in school and I need to remind myself to think about my content and lessons from my students' perspective and what they will need to be successful in the future.

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  10. An innovated mindset is so important in education today. I like when the book said that it is not about the stuff, it is a way of thinking. I am excited to find new ways to reach my students. It is what keeps me in education. I would be so bored to do the same thing day in and day out. Involving the students in their own education and taking ownership of their education is an important part of having a classroom with an Innovated mindset. What is best for each student to learn and become engaged? I like the idea of allowing students to give regular feedback about lessons and for teachers to use that information to make the lesson better and better. I have done Identity Day with my students. It helps to build relationships between students as well as teachers and students. Creating a true learning community in my classroom is my goal as a teacher. By making lessons better with an innovator's mindset, I will grow and become so much better, feel more confident and offer so much more to my students to help them succeed!

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    1. I agree that it is important for students to take ownership of their education. I think by having the Innovated mindset is allowing them to grow and take that ownership.

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  11. An innovated mindset is so important in education today. I like when the book said that it is not about the stuff, it is a way of thinking. I am excited to find new ways to reach my students. It is what keeps me in education. I would be so bored to do the same thing day in and day out. Involving the students in their own education and taking ownership of their education is an important part of having a classroom with an Innovated mindset. What is best for each student to learn and become engaged? I like the idea of allowing students to give regular feedback about lessons and for teachers to use that information to make the lesson better and better. I have done Identity Day with my students. It helps to build relationships between students as well as teachers and students. Creating a true learning community in my classroom is my goal as a teacher. By making lessons better with an innovator's mindset, I will grow and become so much better, feel more confident and offer so much more to my students to help them succeed!

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  12. My definition of innovation is changing beyond the connection with technology. I find myself thinking of ways to inspire and create conversation that encourage students to ask questions. I also find myself questioning students more to understand their thoughts and ideas. An innovator’s mindset in our school system will help encourage the learning environment needed by our students.
    The below passage from the reading is encouraging me to listen more carefully and look for those inspiring moments:
    “Inspiration is one of the chief needs of today’s students. Kids walk into schools full of wonder and questions, yet we often ask them to hold their questions for later, so we can get though the curriculum.”

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    1. That quote definitely is spot on! I agree that we need to question students and let them have more of a voice in the classroom so that they can deeper their own understanding through questions.

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    2. I agree with this. My son is a naturally curious kid. He questions everything. He doesn't like school because it is all book work, memorization, etc., but when he gets to do some out of the box thinking/creating, you can't slow him down.

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    3. I also think that the meaning of innovation goes beyond the integration of technology in classrooms. My awareness of the testing expectations sometimes directs my focus to outcome, rather than journey.

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  14. I love the way Couros defines “innovation” as a way of thinking that creates something new and better. This explanation gives it spark and movement, especially when he couples it with Carl Bass’ quote, “Innovation is the way we change the world…” I’ve always seen my role as a teacher as helping people grow to be world changers. I also know that to do this we have to constantly innovate to help children think deeply and creatively. For me, this is a goal AND a challenge.

    As far as innovating, this year, I’ve stretched a lot by teaching coding and starting a Lego robotics club. The nature of both initiatives definitely puts me in the seat of coach AND co-learner. Although I have plans and I’ve practiced the day’s lesson, there are many codes to debug, some mechanical difficulties with the robots, and sometimes the best coaches in the room are the kids. In the past this may have been humbling, but it’s teaching me what Couros is talking about—listening to the learners and helping them get to where they need to go, which includes having them seek out their classmates’ expertise. I would like to inspire this kind of interaction in my other classes!

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  15. I was struck by Couros's definition of innovation, "a way of thinking that creates something new and better." In my experience as a teacher we tend to do things the way we have always done them expecting students to adjust to us, when in reality it should be the other way around. My definition of innovation before the reading would have focused on using new technology with students, not creating something new and better. Having an innovator's mindset in the classroom challenges me to look at what I am doing in the classroom and asking myself if it is best for students, regardless of the tools I am using.

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    1. I like the spin you put on the text! I think it is very important to ask if it best for the students regardless of the tools (technology).

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  16. I have always thought innovation as "new and different", but in these first few chapters, it is obvious that schools, teachers, and students need to be truly different, which includes being better! Education has some very deep rooted traditions and beliefs. For some educators it has been and will be difficult to change. We all need to pull together and make sure we are doing better as we move forward.

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  17. I was most intrigued with the section in the first chapter, Simple steps to innovation. It is so true that a single idea can completely change our thinking! Sometimes we get so stuck in our ways and teaching methods that we forget to think outside the box or to take into account how others think and learn. Which brings me to the other point in chapter two that really had me thinking. Would I want to be a learner in my own classroom? Honestly, I don't know if I would have wanted to be a student in my 4th grade classroom last year. While I tried to have empathy and insight into my student's minds, I don't know that I created a better learning experience for them verses being in the other 4th grade classroom. Realizing this, I am eager to learn how to develop an innovator's mindset!

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    1. I like what you said about the reading and agree with you. I think we can be very caring and hard working but are we really creating a classroom where student want to be on a daily basis and learn? I know that is an area where I need to focus. I need to attempt to do things in a new and better way in hopes of increasing student engagement.

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  18. Yes, I too believe my definition of innovation has changed. We all tend to get wrapped up in spending money and needing new items in order to move forward when in fact we just need to use what we already have in a more successful way. Most schools have internet accessible to their students in some way, whether it be laptops, Chromebooks, iPad, computer labs, etc. We need to focus less on the next upgrade of equipment and concentrate more on how we can make every learning opportunity more innovative by finding better ways to use what we already have.
    I also want to restate the quote by Stephen Downes (2010). “We need to move beyond the idea that an education is something that is provided for us and toward the idea that an education is something that we create for ourselves.” THIS IS PRICELESS!!!

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    1. I wholeheartedly agree with the Downes quote. I think we need to focus less on innovation and more on getting students invested in their own learning.

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    2. I also really like this quote. If students don't have to opportunity to really be involved with what they are learning, it doesn't matter how much effort the educator puts forth. Also, if it isn't relevant to their lives, they don't get anything out of it.

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  19. My definition of innovation has changed. I had already thought of innovation as taking something and improving it... making it better. We do a unit on inventions. Our kick off involves giving the kids an everyday object, such as a tube of toothpaste or a water bottle, and improving it to meet their own needs. I never thought of it as taking something and completely redefining it, using it for a totally new purpose. Once I began thinking about it that way, it made me realize how innovative our kids are. I think of them on the playground. They use our gaga pit as a "house" or a climber as a "jail." I always thought of it as creative but never as innovative. Now I see them going together, hand in hand.

    I think it is essential to have an innovator's mindset in the class room. I have worked with those who do not have this type of mindset. Not only is it hard to work with someone like this, it was obvious that the kids did not enjoy their school day. Not changing or improving because you don't think you can or because you "have always done it that way," is not good for anyone. I think, as teachers, we need to always ask ourselves how we can make ourselves better teachers. We need to realize that just because it worked ten years ago, it may not work now.

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  20. I really like the quote "The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow." William Pollard

    Being able to adapt and change with each new student that walks through our door is essential. It is a very challenging and scary idea to be innovative in our teaching daily, weekly and yearly, but in these first two chapters it becomes clear that it is a necessity in education.

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    1. Great quote! I often hear that we are preparing our students for jobs that do not exist. I agree with you that adaptability will be a key factor to success.

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  21. My definition on “innovation” has changed after reading the first two chapters. Beforehand I think I put it hand in hand with change. Am I changing the way I do my lesson? Okay then it’s better because using this 1:1 technology with the Chromebooks has to be better. But, just because presentation changed did it actually make it better? That’s something I’m going to have to look at closely and think about. As someone else said the mantra of “new and better” will now be on my mind when thinking of what I’m doing in class.
    I think you have to have an innovator’s mindset as a teacher. Back to technology, with everything changing you have to be able to come up with new and better ways to present material and new and better ways for students to use the technology we do have for projects and assignments. If you don’t want to constantly evolve as an educator I would think you need to ask yourself if what you’re doing is best for you and your students?

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  22. I don't know that I would have defined innovation as something new and better. After reading these two chapters, I am thinking over some of our common practices and trying to find ways that make our classrooms (or libraries in my case) more innovative. I think that at the end of the day, two key concepts have to be present. The students have to be open to the innovative experience, and there has to be some value added. I think of the example of plant growth and instagram. How many people outside that classroom really cared? How many people actually viewed the pictures of plants on Instagram? Is it really more innovative (new and better) to click a button on an iPad, than to spend time looking at, and analyzing a plant so that you can recreate it in a drawing on paper? What did the students really learn while doing this lesson? Did they learn about the shapes and textures of the plant? Or did they learn to click the button, insert a comment, and publish online? How do you work in a conversation about digital citizenship with a picture of a plant? I also think of the skills our students are losing because the focus on technology and innovation is so great. There is a lot of research coming out about the effect technology is having on young children's fine motor skills.
    I polled 4 students and asked them to think over their school career and tell me of any assignment that they feel was innovative. The only answer I got was the teacher who incorporates mindfulness into her class time. Sometimes new is not always better. Sometimes things that we think are so innovative, the students do not.
    I really struggle with these thoughts, because I love technology, and have always pushed for the new and better.

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    1. After reading your comment, I thought about the word "interactive". I think students need some of each; the hands-on version (feel and smell of a plant) and the connections with others through the use of technology. In today's world there are so many ways of doing things, exploring in these various ways keep with them interested and engaged.

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  23. For me, innovative means it needs to be different. Not the same thing we have always done but in a different box. We need to change what we are asking kids to do. Jamie Casep said at a google conference last year that we should not be asking kids what they want to be when they grow up, we need to ask them what problems they want to solve. For me, that is innovation. I like on page 25 when George says "When we think differently about things that we are used to seeing daily, we can create innovative learning opportunities." Innovative does not have to be monumental, but it does need to be out of the ordinary, it needs to be different. I love DeVry University's slogan--"Different on purpose." Yes! We need to be different on purpose!

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  24. Innovation during the Industrial Era also included taking existing ideas and improving on them to make life simpler and economically profitable. Innovation is something that is improvement on something that already exists. "New", according to Couros, can be rethinking and reflecting in the same box we have been working in and finding ways in which we can use something we already have to be more engaging for our learners. As educators, we need to make sure what we decide to do is leading our students into the direction that fits the vision we have made for them. Are the students merely playing a new game, or are they learning a new skill that will maximize their potential of being successful when they leave us as they play that game? Couros helps us understand the importance of networking as a means to learn how to better use the tools we have in front of us. We can use Google Classroom to give and get materials from students, but learning from people such as Alice Keeler on Twitter the various ways to have students more engaged through Google Classroom is how we can be be more innovative in our classrooms. I appreciate Principal Stoner's mention of DeVry's slogan. We can have fun not doing the same thing all the time, but we have to make sure there is a purpose to that change. Thanks Mr. Stoner!

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    1. Valerie,
      I like that you added in your post that there must be a "purpose to that change" or innovation. In education, we have all seen "new" initiatives. Often these replace the things that we were already doing in our classrooms. Teachers can feel threatened and overwhelmed when they don't understand the purpose or see the value in the new. However, if new initiatives are put in place to make something BETTER, then we have innovation to help our learners work towards their future. This can still be scary, but ALL good teachers are willing to do what is best for students.

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  25. Innovation creates something new and better. I like that. We have to ask what is best for the learner. People disagree about differentiated learning and complain that is too much extra work. What is best for the learned? We have to keep that in the forefront of all we so. I enjoyed the "Be More Dog" video I shared it with our faculty and also put it on my Facebook page. Stepping out of one's comfort zone is important.

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    1. I also liked the video "Be More Dog". I cannot believe I've never seen it before. What a simple (but powerful) message about a change in your mindset.

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  26. Innovation for me means taking something old and remaking it to work in the present. It also means taking your ideas and tweak it make a new product or business. And innovation in the classroom means to me taking a problem for a student and adjusting or tweaking it so the student can use it to comprehend a concept or make learning easier due to some physical problem. Technology allows us to better innovate ideas and problems for our students. It allows us to find things faster, solve problems faster and create solutions faster. Teachers have been innovators since teaching started. Technology allows us to do it faster and more creatively.

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    1. What a wonderful way to present the term innovation. I couldn't agree more that teachers have been innovators since teaching started.

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  27. I fall into the category of people who think, or thought, of innovation as a new object or piece of technology. In the past I have considered a new device or program as innovative. Even in my own classroom my Smartboard is primarily used as a screen for my projector, hardly as a room changing innovation. Technology can be wonderful and useful tool for an educator but unless the mindset is innovative we fall into our old routines and habits. The quote from William Pollard, “The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”, seems explain my and many other educators short comings in our profession. Kids change, technology changes, but we are stuck in the same mindset from when we were in school. I like the idea “Designing solutions with both the individuals interests and the end goal in mind is crucial for any innovation to be successful” not just replacing our old technology with modern technology and continuing our teaching habits. I know I need to do a better job of adjusting my classroom and teaching methods to better fit my students and resources available, it will be interesting to see what kinds of suggestions the author has for me to achieve this goal.

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  28. After reading these chapters I felt the most important piece that I could take away was "Innovation is not about the stuff, its about the thinking."

    For our schools and systems to truly be innovative we have to get students and teachers to create cultures of thinking, thinking that is innovative, thinking that brings about questions, plans, reflections for a better way forward. Innovation is a mix of reactive and proactive actions that come through multiple conversations you might have. Innovation isn't someone handing you directions and saying do it, but giving someone the chance to ask questions and pursue the end goal. Our systems are so reactive to what our students are doing, but we never engage them in the conversation. Innovation is when we include all stakeholders in a proactive conversation that can lead us toward a better future.

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  29. I think my definition for innovation did change after reading these chapters. When I heard "innovation" before I thought about just utilizing technology. After reading the chapters, my definition is something that is different and better. I think that technology can definitely be innovative but just using technology is not necessarily innovative.
    What I think it can be difficult is finding ways to be innovative and keep in the constraints of curriculum maps, testing, etc. I've realize that I have to purposely think of what I want students to know and how can I get them there, and make it interesting and meaningful.

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  30. I liked the idea of change. I think you have to innovate to teach todays students. The Ipads we have for each student have created some problems yet helped also help to get thru to students in so many ways. The students are comfortable with technology and we have to adapt and find innovative ways to reach them and teach them.

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  31. I am finding that the notion of innovation as it relates to my role in education is very similar to the process that our students experience when they must take a wide variety of courses both to satisfy graduation requirements and to broaden their view of their futures. Being open to change as an educator models what we expect of our students when we ask them to be receptive to content areas that are perhaps less important to them or more difficult for them to master. I appreciated that George Couros highlighted the character traits of grit and resiliency as those undergird our ability to survive and thrive both as students and as educators. As educators we see the importance of expanding our students' outlooks as they often do not know what their futures hold; likewise, I do not know what my future as an educator will look like. So, I need to be open to ways of thinking that keep me moving forward for the sake of my students and myself.

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  32. I am not sure that my definition of innovation changed, rather it was made clearer. I honestly don't think I put much thought into what innovation looks like before starting this book - but I had definitely thought a lot about the questions posed at the end of chapter 2. The realization that those thoughts and ideas are what lead to innovation was what I really learned. Throughout college, my student teaching placements, and my first years of teaching, I have often felt overwhelmed by the amount of "talk" that goes on in education. Lectures and staff meetings have been filled with philosophical debate about the educational system and how to "fix" it. I have thought many times that this is why many of my peers have left the field completely - why stay in something that is broken. When I read these first chapters, I was more inspired than I have been in a while about not needing to change what I'm doing, rather I need to change the lens and look at things differently. I thought about a workout video I recently did - the instructor said we needed to "be comfortable with being uncomfortable" to get results. This is exactly what the author is saying.
    My key take-aways/quotes:
    - "If they leave school less curious than when they started, we have failed them."
    - We as teachers must create the culture of innovation - provide the students with challenges/problems to solve that are relevant to THEM
    - Teach/model resiliency and grit - this vocabulary should be shared with students.

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    1. Kelly,

      The phrase of "being comfortable with being uncomfortable" is one of my favorites!! "Thankfully, innovation is not about the stuff, it is a way of thinking" (p.35). Our mindset influences student learning by either nurturing or squandering what it takes to be the most responsive to student needs and empowering them as a learner. It's so true if we are truly able to provide an innovative culture for our students and staff, we can no longer adhere to a one size fits all approach, because in actuality, learning is so much more personalized. Asking ourselves, "What is best for this learner?" (p. 21).

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    2. I enjoyed your mention of "being comfortable with being uncomfortable". Isn't our sense of accomplishment and intrinsic motivation reinforced after we persevere through being uncomfortable?

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  33. My definition of innovation has not changed that much from reading the beginning of the book. I'm not sure if it is because I spend quite a bit of time on Twitter and other websites in order to grow, or if it is because I agree with almost everything he says. The most interesting part of the first two chapters has to be how we present innovation to students. One of my favorite lines is "We forget that our responsibility isn't solely to teach memorization or the mechanics of a task but to spark a curiosity that empowers students to learn on their own." After teaching math for 13 years, I realize how much I actually failed my students because of drill-and-kill or because of just assigning worksheets or book work. Those are obviously not innovative in any nature.
    This brings me to my next favorite quote, "If we are going to help our students thrive, we have to move past 'the way we have always done it,' and create better learning experiences for our students than we had ourselves." I encourage my staff to get out of their comfort zone at least once a month. It has worked very well with some of the "experienced" teachers so far this semester.

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    1. I agree with many of your statements. After reading the first 2 chapters of this book, my mindset on what is innovative has not changed either. I spend a lot of time looking for new ideas for my curriculum. My teaching involves a constant reflection on what works and what does not work for the betterment of my students.

      Your encouragement to your staff is very powerful. It is important that we take changes in stride. This book may inspire us to get out of our comfort zones and try new things but we cannot change everything at once.

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  34. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  35. Yes, my ideas of innovation did change, I had thought of it as mostly mechanical, but now I can view the areas of thinking as well. I believe that we have to communicate our thinking to others to be successful in change. We don't want to always jumping to the newest thing, just to change, but to think about where we are and where we want to be and then how do we get there. INNOVATIVE THINKING!

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  36. I assumed innovation meant being up-to-date on all the latest technology and tools. However, after reading I realize it is about a willingness to try new things, reflect on those outcomes, and work toward perfection. Throughout my teaching experiences, I have had (and continue to have) lots of great experiences for me as a "learner." I try to soak up as much as I can from those experiences and take back new ideas to my classroom. I had the opportunity to use a curriculum that I received amazing training in/on a few years ago. I would say (in a math world) it had a very "innovative" approach. Kids would work together to solve problems, there were tons of opportunities for "self-discovery" and visualization. Teachers were facilitators and students had more control of their own learning. I am currently at a school that has a traditional curriculum and my struggle has been implementing some of the strategies of the more innovative approach. I will continue to look for new ideas that might be useful for my students and, even though technology is not the ending, it is a tool that allows for great collaboration.

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  37. Mr. Couros' definition of innovation - "new and better" has reaffirmed my feelings on trying to change the way we do school to our students. "Consider your students' learning experience from their point of view." (p. 39) We need to tap into their passions, learn more about our students, and give them the reassurance that it is okay to fail - but not end there.

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    1. Yes, we talk a lot about taking risks, but we don't talk a lot about what to do after the failure.

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  38. My previous ideas about innovation were not only affirmed, but I was able to take my understandings and continue to evolve my thinking based on what was read. I loved the idea of not making huge shifts in teaching and learning that often require thinking "outside the box", but rather, thinking through the lens of learning how to innovate inside the box (p.36). Too often, teachers are quick to find excuses or limitations within student learning, when really it's about being able to stretch yourself in taking action or new ways of thinking within the parameters you are provided. "The truth is innovation-in our thinking as individuals and organizations-is within easy reach; no dramatic shifts required" (p.20). By establishing a school culture of inquiry and innovation rather than one of compliance, students and teachers are given the freedom to become empowered in their own learning and grow the thinking, not only of themselves, but also of the thinking of others all around them.

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  39. “An educated man is not, necessarily, one who has an abundance of general or specialized knowledge. An educated man is one who has so developed the faculties of his mind that he may acquire anything he wants, or its equivalent, without violating the rights of others. –” Napoleon Hill
    During Couros's introduction he brings up the idea that students struggle to find school relevant because of the amount of knowledge available at our fingertips. Why would a student care to listen to a teacher, or try to memorize information when he/she can simply ask Siri? We are being asked to prepare students for jobs that do not exist yet, but, in a classroom, overall school structure has not changed. Thus, I am very torn on the topic of innovation, and truly understanding his concepts of creating innovation “inside the box.” I love where I envision the author is going, but at the same time am fearful of meeting the requirements set by the state, and school corporation. I agree that students need ownership over what he or she is learning. Inturn the students and teachers need more flexibility to reach the ability and interest of each learner. In chapter one, Couros, says "today, what is a student more likely going to need to be able to write: an essay or a blog post?” This question pushes some people to a place of discomfort (which is the point), but it also makes them think about what’s relevant to today’s educational needs." (Sorry, no page number, I am reading the book using the Kindle app on my iPad) This really gets to my point. Our “box” says students need to write an essay, but some students would rather create a blog, while others will have zero interest in either activity. As an adult that loves to learn, I admit, there are subject that I have no interest in learning about, or having anything to do with. However, as an adult I do the tasks or learn the subject simple because I have to, as a result of “the box” system I was raised in. "Different for the sake of different can be a waste of time and may even leave us worse off than where we started. Simply replacing “A” with “B” is not only not innovation but it could actually lead to something worse than what we had before. Designing solutions with both the individuals’ interests and the end goal in mind is crucial for any innovation to be successful."(Couros) I don’t want to change simply to change and keep up with technology. Having more information by using the internet does not make my students wiser, or care about a subject more than before. It could simple be providing them with more distractions, and wrong information that is believe to be factual. My job is to facilitate learning and exploration of ideas using critical analysis. In essence, I must teach my students to teach themselves.

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    1. Well said, Barb. I especially liked how you mentioned the students that have no interest in neither blog nor essay. As you said, internet doesn't make students wiser. It's just a tool. We have to find new ways to help them teach themselves, or inspire them to find their own answers.

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  40. What resonated with me:
    “lead us out of this jungle of jargon” - How many times have I caught myself annoyed when someone comes up with another acronym or buzz word that everyone seems to think is The Thing. Usually what it turns out to be is just more hype. Let’s make some real changes in education. Let’s make it real. Let’s make it relevant.

    “Change is the opportunity to do something amazing” - Yes, change is hard. But it also is an opportunity to try something new that might be better than before. How will we know until we try? Let’s do something amazing. Or hey, at least try!

    “change not only our tools, but our approach” - a big YES to creativity. And creativity doesn’t just mean use the computer. That can be one of the tools we use in our creative approach.

    “To wonder. To explore.” We all need time for this. I often find myself frustrated and under pressure to get through material. But what will they take away from my class? Years from now, will they remember how to use the past perfect subjunctive or will they remember their curiosity about the origins of chocolate?

    “If we want people to take risks, they have to know we are there to catch and support them.” I am thankful to work in a place where I don’t have to fear trying something new.

    “The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” - I’m glad this was said. I have to look at how I teach it constantly and search for ways to tweak it to make it better for my students. That’s innovation.

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    1. I completely agree with all of this!!! Sometimes I feel like I need a LOT more time to learn and explore before I take something to Ss. At the same time, there's something to be said for jumping in and doing some real-world learning together! I find Ss this year are more willing to jump into my craziness and the unknown and start to question. Now if only I could get them to take that last step and invite themselves to find their own answers!

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  41. Reading the first two chapters didn't change my mind; like some others in this discussion I've read and watched other speakers that Couros references. I'm already a convert to this way of thinking :) but I still have found the reading of this book very meaningful. I like the urgency that he brings and the way he connects back to examples that any teacher can relate to. The gap between student needs and common classroom practices keeps growing and Couros seems to be defining a path to close that gap.

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  42. Like others, my definition of an innovator did not change, but the part about innovators innovating for the sake of betterment, not solely change was highlighted. I think that is often looked over when new ideas, technology, and catch words are introduced into the education world. Some simply want to substitute old ways of doing things was new ways simply to change, but is it for the better? I really appreciated how the author explained that innovation is always for the betterment. I think having an innovator's mindset comes along with being a teacher. We are always looking to better and improve ourselves and our lessons. I think this book is challenging us to go further than we previously have and use all resources at our disposal, most notably technology, since a number of teachers tend to shy away from it, at least in my experience. Whenever I think about being innovative and the change that comes along with it, I always challenge myself to ensure that I am changing a lesson or project for the betterment of my students, and I always remind myself that sometimes that is done with technology and sometimes it is not.

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  43. Love all the comments here! These chapters validated a lot of work we have been doing with fixed v. growth mindset. As our district works to look at tech integration, I am excited to be reading this book. I am also loving the additional resources at the end of each chapter!

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  44. My definition of innovation has not changed from reading the first two chapters, but my motivation to innovate has been challenged. There are few things more frustrating than watching students leave a classroom without having engaged. As an old guy who has just recently returned to teaching high school biology after twenty years in youth ministry; most everything feels like innovation to me! I am learning tons every day about technology and how to integrate it into the classroom. I am amazed at the way I can grade tests/quizzes in seconds using my computer. I find the ability to send email to my students at the end of the day pretty useful and a far cry from the old days when a phone call home was the only way to communicate outside of the classroom. And yet I'm not sure that the students buy into "my" innovations. The thing that stood out the most to me from Chapters 1 & 2 is in Ch. 2 where we read, "What is often misunderstood is that the higher up any one person is in any organization, the more people they serve, not the other way around. In education as in any other organization, to be truly innovative, the process will be driven by asking questions, as each community and individual we serve is unique." I need to constantly remind myself that I am there to serve my students and not vice versa. That should be our default setting, but I'm afraid our human nature quite often creeps in and shifts the focus onto me. When I let that happen the goal of any innovation I attempt simply becomes to make things easier for me. That is a mindset I (and all educators) must reject as I serve my students.

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    1. Hi Dennis! Happy to see you participating in this book club discussion!

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  45. To me, innovation meant being creative in the classroom. I would say that my definition has and has not changed after reading these chapters. I think in order to be an innovative educator, you have to think outside the box, but it does not necessarily need to be your original idea. In chapter 2, the teacher that helped a student overcome a stuttering problem, by trying and encouraging a student to listen to music was an idea he used from a movie! To me, that is innovative, to see something in a movie and try it with a student. How often do we take things from movies and implement them into our classrooms?

    I also like that the author points out that failure is an important part of innovation. I have a very Type A personality and it is difficult for me to accept failure. I want all students to succeed in my classroom, and trying new things is a way to accept failure, if something does not work. Since I teach elementary school, I have learned that what works for one group does not work for the next year's group.

    One question I have: how do we encourage our colleagues to be innovative?

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    1. I love that you point out that being innovative in the classroom doesn't always mean we have to have our own original idea. Taking an existing idea and applying it to a new situation, setting, or purpose is just as innovative as coming up with something from "scratch".

      As a tech specialist, I struggle with how to encourage innovation. Many teachers tell me they don't have time or the skills needed. I strongly believe that many of them are already innovating - creating new ways to share the content/skills with a variety of learners. We just have to get them to realize that they are already doing it, but should push it to the next level to impose real change.

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  46. The question I liked was, "Would I want to be a learner in my own classroom?" I think the answer could be yes with or without technology as the author suggested. I think I am at a place where I need to evaluate what my lesson needs to meet my students where they are at and stretch them to perform or think in ways that they did not realize they could. Sometimes technology will be a part of this, but sometimes technology can impede learning. I love how the author says, "Innovation...starts not by providing answers, but by asking questions." Am I asking enough questions? Am I allowing the students to find the answers? Sometimes I feel too hurried to slow down and let the children explore for themselves. Maybe the act of slowing down is the innovative act our children need the most. Like the author said different for the sake of being different can leave us worse off than where we started. Maybe the best thing we can do is get back to the basics, but instead of going with the traditional fixed mindset, focus on a growth mindset.

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  47. I think my definition of innovation has stayed the same. I agree with everything George has said in this book and have been highlighting furiously! I think the challenge as a technology coach is to get my teachers to have an innovators mindset and to have the drive to be constant learners.

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  48. Something that stuck out to me was how George quoted Josh Stumpenhorst: "Innovative teaching is constant evolution to make things better for student learning." I had the privilege to hear him at the Lowell eLearning conference last summer and he had so many great ideas and stories. I think being innovative is being able and willing to take risks and know that if it doesn't work at least you tried.

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  49. Quoting from "merriam-webster.com", "innovative is introducing or using new ideas or methods and having new ideas about how something can be done." This definition seems to be in line with the author's definition of innovative. Where I believe the author augments being innovative is in changing the focus to looking at education from our students' viewpoint and their individual needs. Being an innovative teacher today involves changing the way we have always done it. We need to switch it up for our students, using the channels of learning that best fits their needs.

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  50. "The question that must be asked every day is, "What is best for this learner?" When I read that line it made me think about how teaching is such a craft. When we think of our teaching skills as something that always needs refined, we grasp the essence of innovation. Innovative teachers question what we do and why we do it so that all needs are met. It makes me reflect upon when I taught the writer's craft to my fourth graders. By the end of the school year, my students learned to never say that they were "done" with their writing. They knew that my response would be, "A writer is never finished. A writer can always do more." There is always room for improvement.

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    1. I totally agree! Teaching (when done right) is not like a factory, where all models are the same. Each student is different and needs different things. I like that you referred to teaching as a "craft". It takes a lot of care and constant reflection to be the best teachers we can be.

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  51. I do look at innovation a bit differently after reading these chapters. Three quotes that really resonated with me from the reading:
    1. "They are constantly told that if they want to be innovative, they are going to have to find time to do it."
    2. "As leaders, if we ask teachers to use their own time to do anything, what we're really telling them is: it's not important."
    3. "In other words, we need to learn to innovate inside the box."
    And, as with so many other things being discussed today, he mentions that the groundwork for innovation is relationships.

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  52. I do look at innovation a bit differently after reading these chapters. Three quotes that really resonated with me from the reading:
    1. "They are constantly told that if they want to be innovative, they are going to have to find time to do it."
    2. "As leaders, if we ask teachers to use their own time to do anything, what we're really telling them is: it's not important."
    3. "In other words, we need to learn to innovate inside the box."
    And, as with so many other things being discussed today, he mentions that the groundwork for innovation is relationships.

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    1. I think the word "time" keeps so many teachers down. I will admit the first thing I think of when someone asks me to try something new is, "how long will this take me?" I feel that if teachers truly have that innovative mindset, it will be so natural it won't take extra time.

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  53. I definitely have a more thorough understanding of the meaning of innovation. I originally thought of innovation as coming up with something new. We all know the best teaching ideas often come from shared and modified ideas and strategies. Being innovative is teaching in a way that keeps kids engaged and inspired. This can often be done by taking an old lesson and changing it to meet the needs of today's learners. This first chapter made me think about small changes I could easily make to be more innovative in the classroom.

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  54. “Savvy leaders understand the need for innovation, and as a result, constantly reinvent their organizations” (Kindle, Ch. 1). Whether we want to lead in the classroom, our schools, or corporations, yes, we need to have an innovator’s mindset. As George mentions, we became teachers to improve the lives of our students, and to do this, we need to be looking towards the future. While we can learn from the patterns and techniques from the past, our goal is cultivating learners for the future.

    Personally, my definition of “innovation” has been strengthened while reading chapter one and two. This way of thinking, to design and create a learning experience that is best for the learner, changed when my teaching practices were challenged to teach Project Based Learning. Moving from the traditional educational experience to one where the STUDENT is the center of the learning design pushed me to ask questions, think differently and re-evaluate my current practices. “When we think differently about the things that we are used to seeing daily, we can create innovative learning opportunities” (Kindle, Ch. 1). While innovation is not something new, there has been a shift in educational practices, with support from fellow teachers and administrators, where we can finally explore what challenges, engages and prepares students for their futures.

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  55. Innovation starts with a question...that is powerful! Are we asking our students the right questions?

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  56. I revisited this week's question/comments to read new posts, get new ideas- I liked Lisa's question: are we asking our students the right questions?

    This question led me to ask my students to rate their lessons this week- talk about taking a risk...but if engagement is innovative, as many of us believe, then who would be better qualified to evaluate? After each lesson, students were asked questions about aspects of the lesson- Surprisingly, students were very serious with their input, and seemed to appreciate that they had a valued opinion. These questions opened up some great discussions.

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  57. I always thought innovation HAD to include something new. I appreciate the broadening of my definition - that innovation involves either invention or iteration - as long as you are making something better. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the book and specifically applying the innovators mindset to technology use. Being a 1:1 school its easy to say we are innovative but we have to make sure that the ways we use the technology are innovative, and we use all of the resources available to use.

    As I was reading, I kept stopping to look up the YouTube videos that Couros spoke of in his writing. It really helped me to visualize his topics. I think that in itself is innovative - when is the last time a book on educational theory wanted you to go watch a YouTube video??

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  58. I thought that chapter 1 & 2 were interesting. I am an elementary music teacher for a K-5 school. While I was reading, I began to think about what I could change about my curriculum and how I teach it. I am looking forward to thinking about this more and putting down some ideas!

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  59. My idea of innovation has changed. I am in a one-to-one school, but having a computer does not automatically mean innovation. It is just a tool that can help with innovation. It just depends on how we use our resources.

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  60. I love the question: Would I want to be a learner in my own classroom? And most days, I would answer absolutely YES. I love bringing new things to life, because innovation absolutely does not have to be something new and sometimes old ideas can come to life when you present them in a new and exciting way. I think a lot of times people think about innovation as technology, like a previous commenter mentioned. While technology can be a great tool FOR innovation, it truly can also do the opposite of innovate.

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