This summer I find myself gifted with “The Innovator’s Mindset; Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity by George Couros and a group of like-minded (local) educators to share my thoughts and ideas with along the way.
This book had me at innovators, but I have been taught not to judge a book by its cover alone, so I moved into the nitty gritty of the book. My thoughts and questions started growing exponentially in the early pages.
George Couros explains most successful businesses and innovators move first from the why, then to the what, and finally to the how. These businesses consistently reinvent themselves to stay competitive and relevant. Staying current is what I envision for my students. Not only do students need to learn their why, but as an educator, I need to know my why and the why's of my students.
I have been known to drive a few people (family members included) crazy with my need to know the why in any situation. Saying we could do this or we are going to that isn't enough for me. I
want NEED to know the WHY.
The why may not matter when my husband says we're having chicken for dinner tonight, but when someone says your students need to do X, why matters! Why do the students have to do X? Is it for a mandated test? Are we doing it because we always have? Or does it prepare the students for life? The why is the catalyst to learning.
In an earlier post, How Do We Help Students Find Their Why, on Two Writing Teachers I shared how the lack of knowing the why behind our work affected the student's ability to transfer learning to other situations. Seeing the lack of generalization troubled me and led me to set my summer goal.
My learners need to know the why. This summer, my learning will center around how I can teach my students to find their WHY.
George Couros defines innovation, "... as a way of thinking and doing that creates something new and better." He continues to explain innovation as being about what we do with what we have. Innovation may create something new (invention), or it may alter something we currently have (iteration). What caught my attention was when George Couros cautioned us about thinking of innovation as a noun. Rather we should look at innovation as a way of thinking, and how we use the tools, we have.
Keeping in focus of different and improved ways of doing we're further cautioned about simply making changes in the name of innovation. If the changes we make are not producing new and better outcomes, then they're not innovative. Innovation must produce newer and better outcomes.
As an educator, I believe education needs to be at the epicenter of innovation. It's my responsibility to provide an environment that enables my students to become prepared for the future. But how do I do this when each student in our classroom is an individual, and each student's why is different? How can I best meet the individual needs of 25 different students?
I can't be everything to all. I have to release the reins and trust the students to determine their why, then their what, and finally their how. Students need to know why they're learning, then decide what they want to learn, and eventually how they'll go about the learning.
Student reflection and goal setting will give students ownership in learning and allows the student to follow their why. In addition, student ownership is motivating to the students and student drive releases me from designing 25 individual learning schemes. Through the practice of routine reflection and goal setting, students will be in a continuous state of innovation and reinventing their learning.
Thoughts I am pondering as I move forward-
How and when do I give kids a chance to reflect?
If the reflection isn't regular, do kids have the opportunity to see the flow of reflection and its power?
How do I model reflection and show students the next steps in taking ownership of learning?
If innovation is what we do with what we have, then How do we use student reflection to guide our teaching?
It’s what students don't say that will guide my teaching the most.