Monday, January 25, 2016


A dear friend and colleague of mine @OCTVisser shared her enthusiasm for Innovator's Mindset with me after hearing a speaker last summer. She was at iPadpalooza in Austin and George Couros was the keynote. I took her advice and started following @gcouros on Twitter since that is what I do... stalk people to learn from them. I discovered quickly I have similar thoughts and opinions as George. My friend encouraged me to read his book. Now, I love to read but realistically - my family spends 4 weeknights and most weekends at the baseball fields. When we aren't at baseball, it's flag football. Our seasons are Baseball, Summer, Baseball, Football. Seriously. Reading tends to take a backseat during the school months. So, I took some time over the Christmas break and decided to catch up on some reading. I read Student Voice (reflection here) and I'm still reading Mindset. Over the holidays, I became very familiar with Amazon Prime so I decided to order books for my birthday and included Innovator's Mindset in the pack. People, overnight shipping from Amazon Prime is no joke! I was SO happy when it arrived the next day. 

I opened the book and right away I knew this book was going to be just what I needed. "Change is the opportunity to do something amazing." This is the quote from page 2. Page two! Already I am smiling, writing on the book, highlighting all over, posting pics to Twitter and hollering 'Amen!'... and I was just getting started.

Once I pushed out of my classroom's four walls, teaching took on a whole new viewpoint for me. The only way I could push out was to take baby steps. Have you ever watched a chick hatch? In first grade, we did. Each year those little eggs would wobble then a tiny hole was made, the beak would stick out, some tiny chirps called out... then after some rest, that chick broke out! But it wasn't right away. It had to peck away at the hard shell and little pieces soon added up to a new world for that chick. That is how learning works for me. I try a few small things, mess up... (a lot!) then I try again and continue til I find something that works. When I lead others, I try to encourage them to make small steps until they feel confident enough to press on and then themselves encourage others. One line said 'lead by meeting people where they are' (p.47) and that was a great reminder to me. Each of us are learners in our own spots. Embrace where each learner is and encourage them from there.

Chapter 4 is my absolute favorite chapter. It is titled 'Relationships, Relationships, Relationships' and that is my passion. Without solid relationships, without those connections - students are not sure to trust I'm showing up each day to inspire them to learn, parents are not certain I am investing in their children to instill a love of learning for a lifetime, peers may not believe I'm open to collaborating. On page 149 I read "Innovative environments should be built on trust, not the lack of it" which I firmly believe in. That we should provide learning experiences with our students but we must know them and what they are interested in in order to provide this platform.

Technology is another passion of mine. Wow, technology can make an amazing impact on our learning. I've watched multiple students come alive with the power to communicate their understanding with their devices. Students are empowered to learn and share their learning with the world. So when I read "Technology invites us to move from engaged to empowered" (p.140) I'm quite certain I hollered 'Yes! AMEN!' because I have seen it, time and time again.

A few years ago I taught a Dual Language classroom. In order to better communicate with my students and parents, I attended a nighttime class to relearn how to speak basic Spanish. Each week I had homework and once I asked my students to help me (I was stuck!) They LOVED teaching ME. It was eye-opening for me. They were motivated and we connected since they were able to help me learn (relearn) something (kinda) new. I discovered first hand how it is important to model that we, too, are learners. So, on p.183 I argued a little with the speech because the answer is not 'nearly zero' - educators are out there modeling learning for their students. We are ALL learning together.

One reason I began blogging more often is because I asked my students to reflect on their learning. Well, how can I ask that of them if I'm not doing the same? "I reflect, therefore I learn." (p.188) Many great ideas were listed for reflecting on our learning, which I immediately implemented in my classroom. Don't you love a book that you can use right away? Boy, I do! One new idea I gained was "DEAR ~ Drop Everything and REFLECT". I love this idea! Sometimes we reflect on EasyBlog, sometimes on paper, sometimes with video - any which way students have the opportunity make connections, ask questions and solidify their learning.

I could go on and on sharing my thoughts about this incredible book but you should read it. I plan to reread it soon since I'm sure I will notice things I didn't pick up on last time - I read it so fast! How do you promote an innovator's mindset in your learning environment? What qualities do you find essential in order to inspire and empower others in their learning?

*Notes and quotes from The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros


  1. Erin...what an amazing attitude on learning you have! This blog was so honest and reflective! I am so glad you are the friend that will listen to another crazy friend and try things with her! Your students are the lucky ones here. I wish I was a student in your classroom. :) I always enjoy reading your blog!

  2. Wow! This was SO good. Thank you for writing it. I'm so excited to get my hands on a copy of the book. Thanks, Bridget, for purchasing books for us! Can't wait. Ya'll are amazing and a blessing students every single day. :)