Tuesday, September 27, 2016

#Innovator's Mindset MOOC- Sept. 24- Oct. 1

In Chapter 1, innovation is defined as a way of thinking that creates something new and better. What are some examples that you consider innovative?  How is it new and better than what previously existed?

If asked the question, what characteristics does a classroom have that maximize student potential to grow and succeed, what would you say? Would student innovation have a place in your response? Every teacher has the power to create ideal learning conditions for all students to be innovative. This requires some innovation on behalf of the teacher as well. When we learn the needs of our students and provide an atmosphere of innovation and exploration their needs are met. Innovation can transform and improve the way that we meet student's needs.

George Couros wrote in his book, "The Innovator's Mindset", that innovation is not a thing but a way of thinking. When I consider what it means to be innovative I think about this quote by Jason Silva, "Ideas are powerful because they allow us to see the world as it could be, rather than what it is. Innovation can be as simple as thinking and implementing a small adjustment. Couros also writes in his book that, "Innovation can come from invention or iteration (a change of something that already exists)." One of the best examples I can think of where only a small change was made that created a powerful impact is when we give choice to students. When we allow them the freedom to choose, that is an innovative approach. A slight shift in an approach to teaching like giving our students the chance to be self directed and choose a path of learning that they want walk. The shift in thinking is this: the teacher is not the focus, the student and their learning is.

Another very simple example of innovative thinking is the philosophy, "quality over quantity". I pose this question: if a student can accurately demonstrate acceptable mastery of a skill in a few good examples, why then would we need them to do so in multiple redundant questions in one instance? If you wanted to incorporate student choice, then you could allow them to propose how they demonstrate their own understanding.

Review the “Critical Questions for Educators” in Chapter 2.  Why are these important to understand those we serve in education?  What other questions would you ask? How do you embody the characteristics of an Innovator’s Mindset?
Each of the "Critical Questions for Educators", in chapter 2 use the idea of an innovative shift in the way educators approach teaching and adjust the focus so that it is squarely on the student. The questions force us to view our classroom and teaching style from the perspective of our students. The questions also elicit reflection on our relationship with our students and if we are meeting their needs as individuals. Do we really know what they need to be successful, and how are we determining our own effectiveness?
One of the most powerful examples of innovation that I used in my classroom for my students was to give them a chance to answer the following prompt with or without their names:
"Mr. Rodriguez, I need for you to know________ so that I can learn."
I was moved to tears by some of the comments I read. I was also surprised that most wanted me to know who was writing. I believe that the idea of innovation can be a simple as letting your students know that they are more important than what we have to teach that day.

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