The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity by George Couros

III: Unleashing Talent – 8. Strengths-Based Leadership

  • Having students spend extra time on what they are not good at runs the risk of them not learning much more, hating it, and hating school. Sometimes we only let students work on what they like after they finish working on what they hate. This is known as the deficit model and it can be demoralizing for teachers. If we let students further develop their strengths, they will improve their learning skills. Along with developing a growth mindset this approach can help them improve in the subjects that challenge them the most. Research shows that people who focus on their strengths are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs the three times as likely to report an excellent quality of life. Those who supervise teachers need to help them focus on their strengths as well.

9. Powerful Learning First, Technology Second

  • Thanks to sites like YouTube, children can make instructional tutorials even before they go to school. Technology, therefore, invites us to move from engaged to empowered. To teach is to learn twice. Learning is the driver; technology is the accelerator as it provides opportunities that didn’t exist before. Unfortunately, most schools feature a curriculum of what is already known with little chance for teachers to be learners. Many teachers use technology as glorified pencils while IT departments get in the way. Blocking social media and YouTube seems like an overreaction and may punish everyone for the mistakes of a few.

10. Less is More

  • When it comes to encouraging his staff to take advantage of what technology offers, George admits to making the mistake of showing them too much. Research shows the too much choice can be as bad a too little. Some schools are known for trying too many initiatives at once and only scratching the surface of each. When using technology you need to ask: “Am I doing something with the device that I could not do before?” Your goal should be to get students to see themselves as creators as learning happens when you make something out of what you know. Doing less means going beyond surface learning to really explore and build knowledge. Time pressure is also an enemy of creativity. Be sure to allow for a trial and error style of exploration.

11. Embracing an Open Culture

  • While there are many amazing teachers who shun connecting online, there are also many who are doing great things they otherwise could not have done. Foremost is the 24/7 access to interactions with people around the world with common interests. Today, isolation is a choice that teachers make. YouTube makes it possible for anyone to teach and be self-taught. By connecting and sharing your classroom, you can become more innovative. Teachers and students can take the ideas of others and remix them to meet their needs and the needs of their communities. Blogging and other online activities pushes your thinking as you reflect, create, and share. It is vital that leaders actively share ideas. Whatever you teach or do there is probably a hashtag for it.
  • Open culture promotes both collaboration and competition. Too much of either is not good. Bad competition results in a lack of sharing. Good competition happens when someone takes a shared idea and improves upon it. If every teacher tweeted with the school hashtag daily, everyone would get to know each other at a deeper level. You can’t measure culture, but you can feel it.

12. Create Meaningful Learning Experiences for Educators

  • In spite of the bad press, lectures do have their place in learning, otherwise TED Talks would not be so popular. Unfortunately, it’s the rare lecture that follows the rules for TED Talks. Part of the problem with teachers is that they all spend 16 years watching someone else do the job, and in most cases, the examples weren’t very innovative. Teachers need to carve out time for exploration, collaboration, and reflection to apply what they are learning. Teachers need to be co-learners and responsible for their own professional development. If a kid really wants to learn something they go after it. Teachers should too. You need to personalize learning for yourself if you expect to do so for students.
  • This chapter ends with the “Eight Things to Look for in Today’s Classroom” with tips of how to get there. They are: 1. Students learning from others and sharing their learning, 2. Students focusing on their strengths and having more choice in what they learn, 3. Students and teachers taking time to write and reflect, 4. Opportunities for innovation, 5. Critical thinking promoted by asking questions to challenge students, 6. Tough challenges for students and time for them to find solutions, 7. Student self-assessment and student portfolios, 8. Connected learning via social media and video conferences.
Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter Share this page via Google Plus     If you like the summary, buy the book
Pages: 1 2 3 4