“Once you stop learning, you start dying.” #IMMOOC

Fantastic beginning to what I am sure will be an enlightening and motivating book, “The Innovator’s Mindset” by George Couros.

I am jumping into the#IMMOOC Live with great anticipation, how can I continue to adapt as an instructor to help serve the needs of our contemporary learners? We live and work in a culture that fears–but craves change. It is a difficult relationship to understand. We all have colleagues who race out to buy new phones, watches and tablets while posting on Facebook and Instagram–but refuse to allow this world into the most important tool it can offer: Our classrooms. Why the paradox? Why the fear that neutralizes our ability to help our students acquire 21st century skills?

Want to teach collaboration? How about setting up groups with representation from 4 continents to study particular current events and their impact around the globe using social media. Or how to solve a math problem, or an engineering challenge.

Want to teach critical thinking? How about attempting to find solutions to real world issues like refugees while having students be in contact with people who have actually existed in that world.

Want to teach Source Analysis? How about having students dig through thousands of hashtags regarding a particular subject, then ask them to not only evaluate content–but assess the source from which they came for perspective, point of view, bias and reliability.

Instead, we gather students in straight rows to listen to a single individual pontificate about what the “facts” are, and to “write this down”. Instead, we teach collaboration through the occasional grouping of students without much premeditated thought, to work through some basic tasks that can best be described as clerical. Instead, we teach source analysis by droning through sources which can best be described by the students as “boring” and “irrelevant”.

Why the disconnect? Why the fear to change? I find myself constantly looking about my profession hoping that a change to more relevant instruction will take place. But, I am always left wondering “How do I do it? How can I make others change with me?” Well, it is with great excitement that I placed multiple stars and notes on page 8 of George’s introduction to “The Innovator’s Mindset”. He notes: “…The question I am most frequently asked in my talks and workshops is, “How do we get others the change?” In reality, you can’t make anyone change; people can only change themselves. What you can do is create the conditions where change is more likely to happen...” This page brought me great peace and answered that question that always comes to my mind while standing at the crossroads. I can help change by being the change.

I come to #IMMOOC in hopes of collaborating with like minded individuals who want to learn to “do something amazing” through change. How ironic that on this very day, today in class, a young lady was complaining to me about the handwritten agenda that our school provides for students to record assignments and calendars. She hopes for an app or phone based agenda someday. As she spoke, my first response to her was a quote from Gandhi: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world” and I told her to offer a better idea to the administrative team. I was quick to offer advice to her that I am often hesitant to take myself.

All this, after our classes spent a day last week brainstorming ways to “change” education for the youth of today based upon our school’s very recent adoption of a new Vision Statement. Our class fictitiously decided to build a new model school where our mascot would be the Proton. (As we would put a positive charge into our learning) and that we would seek to change all Electrons (those with a negative charge). Kids spoke openly and freely about what they wanted in their school, and how they would learn. It was among the best days in my career with open, free flowing discussion with students. I honestly went home thinking all night about a new model school that would encompass all of the vision of the truly honest young men and women.

When I read George’s introduction, it pointed out to me that I can tell my students to “Be the change” as Gandhi did—but, I also need to follow his advice in my own passion for teaching. Yes, change is difficult. Yes, change seems slow. Yes, change seems at times to be impossible, but the reward: “…an opportunity to do something amazing…”.

So for me, I intend on living in this profession for many years. I will work to find the “adjacent possible” and hope to “unleash the talent” in my school. I’m in, let’s do this. Thanks for the inspiration George.


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