The Educator's PLN

The personal learning network for educators

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a round table discussion with George Couros, the Division Principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning for Parkland School Division, at the Marin County Office of Education (@MCOEPD). George has been inspirational to me. He's challenged me to take risks in my own professional learning and provided gentle nudges to stick with the process. I was delighted to be able to meet him in person and talk about his ideas about how to grow a culture of innovation.

With his personable style and passion, George focused our attention on a key question for educational leaders: How do we move from pockets of innovation to a culture of innovation?  He provide much food for thought that is summarized very well by Eric Saibel, Assistant Principal at Sir Francis Drake High School, in his post, Stepping Beyond the Cage of the Unknown. George has also outlined these ideas in the Leading Innovative Change series on his blog, The Principal of Change.

While I came away from the discussion and presentation with my head spinning -- lots to think about -- I'd like to focus on a few of the key ideas that resonate with my work.

Like other districts, we are taking a close look at how we prepare our students for an uncertain future. An essential part of this process is inspiring and fostering adult learning to transform student learning. In the discussion, George emphasized the need for educational leaders to rethink our assumptions and approaches to adult learning. If we want our students to experience innovative learning, then we need to create the conditions that make it a reality for teachers. What are the seeds we need to sow to grow a culture of innovation?

As George emphasized creating conditions for powerful professional learning must begin with a strengths-based approach. Just as we cannot adopt a deficit model of thinking when working with students, it is also critical that we focus on the strengths that educators bring to their work and build upon them.

George also urged participants to think in terms of individual growth targets. Instead of focusing exclusively on moving the organization from point A to point B, we also need to consider how does each person move from his or her point A to point B. As Elena Aguilar points out in The Art of Coaching: "Meeting people where they are means exercising compassion, and it really is the only place to start when trying to make meaningful change" (Kindle location 1197). To cultivate a culture of innovation, we need to begin by supporting each person to move forward.

One of the ways we can do this is to work one to one, learning side by side. George talked about a superintendent with whom he's work as being "elbow deep in the learning." I love this image as it reminds me that we are all learners and that we have an obligation to support each other in learning and growing.

This part of the discussion reminded me of Atul Gawande's article, "Slow Ideas." In the article, Gawande asks "why do some innovations spread so swiftly and others so slowly?" In her blog post, Accelerating Slow Ideas, Kristen Swanson sums up Gawande's findings and applies them to educators: "Slow change speeds up when people learn from a trusted friend." What matters is the powerful combination of establishing relationships based on trust, meeting people where they are and helping them to adopt new practices.

What seeds do you sow to grow culture of innovation?

Views: 66


You need to be a member of The Educator's PLN to add comments!

Join The Educator's PLN

Comment by Oscar Marin on December 27, 2013 at 7:32pm

Rightly said Jennie. Cultivating a culture of innovation has to be emphasized upon. I really loved your experience that you have shared here. Thoughts become things is what I believe on and if we start to think in an innovative manner then we are bound to be productive in an innovative way. The part you discussed about slow and accelerated ideas was awesome. Infact we all need to do this.


Thomas Whitby created this Ning Network.

Latest Activity

Jason Rukman commented on Jason Rukman's blog post Try out Itch. Scratch in a safe, online learning environment with video lessons for your students.
"Thanks Jalyn, Let me know if you're interested in a trial teacher account and I'll get you set up (You can also just try out the courses as well)!  "
20 hours ago
David Chiles posted a status
"Principles of Netiquette Book Crowdfund Campaign via @gofundme"
Tracy Brady updated their profile
Natalie Marie Lopez updated their profile
Harry Zepeda posted a blog post

Do you have a spending problem?

Shopaholics do not agree to the fact that they are shopaholics until and unless they are forced to agree that they are affected by the addiction of shopping, and they need to do seriously something about it so that they do not waste their entire savings and cry about it on a later date. In this post, we will help you spot the problem and if you spot the issue, go ahead and look for a remedy so that you get enough time to be at ease in the future. 1.    Your credit card balance is always close…See More
Natalie Marie Lopez posted a blog post

Are there any great websites for K-12 students?

Hello Collective wisdom!I wanted to know if there were any great websites anyone can recommend for elementary school students (K-12) that introduce primary sources?With Common Core State Standards, I notice students are introduced to primary sources in the 3rd grade and there is a local history assignment at one of the schools I talked to.  Know any good introductory sites?  I'm currently building one as part of a project for my multimedia course and would like to look to the left and right for…See More
Joyce Matthews posted a blog post

"I am the greatest"

I was 6 when I decided I wanted to be a PE teacher. A lively child, I loved taking part in any kind of sporting activity. It was 1971 when I set eyes on our new track suited next-door neighbour. I was hooked. I wanted to be like her. I wanted to go to work in a tracksuit and trainers and play sport all day. No amount of persuasion or…See More
Nov 18
Mark William posted a blog post

Competition To Raise The Level Of Online Learning

The world is exploring every possible means to infuse education to the underserved. Different agencies are consistently working on catering education to the poverty ridden poor background mass of the society. The policy makers have realised the essence of educating the underserved to lower or eradicate the poverty. The need to provide skill development oriented education tops the priority so that the learner from the poor background can land themselves to the desired jobs. But traditional…See More
Nov 18

Awards And Nominations

© 2015   Created by Thomas Whitby.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service