How I embody the 8 characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset!

I believe that in order to be an innovator, you need to demonstrate an innovator’s mindset. During week two of the #IMMOOC discussion, one of the blog prompts was to reflect on these eight characteristics. To do so, I decided to create my own image of how I demonstrate these traits, using Canva, and answered the 8 Characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset (Interview Questions) created by George Couros.

As I am in a leadership role, I have slightly reworded some of these interview questions to reflect my day-to-day interaction with educators and students around the school.

1. Empathy – 
Describe your office from the viewpoint of a teacher or student. What would they tell me if I was to walk in?

I actually had a teacher tell me the other week that my office is calm and inviting. Between the pink lights that are up in my office, accompanied by music often playing, and a shelf a student built me as part of their Design & Innovation course that has pink flowers, the teacher explained that this all creates almost a spa ambiance and atmosphere. I was so touched to hear that because I wanted to create a safe space that is a reflection of my personality, but also a comfortable place that teachers and students feel welcome to visit to be able to ask me questions, get advice, discuss project ideas, or even to come ask for help when they need it.

2. Problem-Finders/Solvers – 
a) How do you encourage teachers and students to make an impact both locally and globally? 

I am very lucky to be working in a UNESCO school where at each grade level students are encourage to create partnerships with other schools and to organize and lead a philanthropic initiative.

Here is a list of ideas I shared with the school’s Core Experience representatives to support connecting with classrooms and schools from around the world.

Kidnected World * The Wonderment * Digital Pen Pals * Mystery Skype * The Wonder Guides * Dancing Around the World * Our Global Friendships * Global Read Aloud * Making sense of this world * Flick-It-On! * Peace Day – September 21st * Global School Net * Dot Day – September 15th * iEarn * Travelling Teddy – great for grade 1 * Flat Stanley Project – great for grade 2 * Global Education Conference – lots of great resources * Connected Learning Partnerships * Global Classroom Project * Taking IT global * Connect To Learn – connect classrooms in impoverished communities with classrooms around the world to foster collaborative learning, cross-cultural understanding, and global awareness. * Around the world in 80 schools

I also encouraged the Core Experience school representatives to follow #GlobalEdu on Twitter.

Furthermore, I began teaching a Design & Innovation course that encourages students to think about an invention that could help solve a problem or to work on something that could help make a difference. For example, one of my current students is working on a project to reduce the amount of plastic bags that are being used for shopping in Calgary. She has done a lot of research about other cities that have stopped using plastic bags in their stores and would like to be a part of that change here in Calgary.

b) What are some ways that you help tap into their passions for learning?

I tap into their passions for learning through conversations and relationship building, both with educators and students around the school. Taking the time to show an interest, asking how their weekend was, getting to know what activities outside of school they partake in, and following up after a competition, race, game, performance, and asking how it went. In addition, I try to attend school organized events, and volunteer with sports and the school musical to help build relationships with the students and teachers throughout the school. Furthermore, the goal of the Design & Innovation course that I am teaching, is also to tap into students interests. And one of the first activities I do in this course is to get to know my students and what their interests and passions are.

4. Risk Takers – 
Share a time that you tried something that didn’t work with students. What did you learn from the process?

Just like I teach my students when they print something for the first time with the 3D printer, is that everything doesn’t work perfectly the first time that you try something new. You may have to make small adjustments and try again. Just because it doesn’t work well the first time, don’t give up. Take a step back, reflect, and try again! As my role heavily involves tech integration and using technology, we all know that it is often two steps forward and one step back when using it. It is great when it works and it can get frustrating at times when it doesn’t! What I have learned over time with working with technology is to remain patient. Stop. Take a deep breath and think what are the reasons why this may not be working. I try my best to share this with anyone I work with, students and teachers, so that everyone can learn to be a troubleshooter.

4.  Networked –
a) Outside of teachers and leaders that you have worked with, who is a “current day” educator (or thinker) that has influenced your leadership role? How have you connected with them?

At the moment it is George Couros and all the amazing educators currently participating in the #IMMOOC discussion. I currently connect with George via Twitter through the online Twitter discussions and via private messaging.

b) How have you made connections both locally and globally? 

I am also currently connecting with teachers globally through the online book study #CogCoachStudy. This book study is organized by some leaders at a school in India. We will all be learning together for the next several months and I look forward to advancing my knowledge and skills on cognitive coaching with this group of educators.

c) What does networked mean to you?

Having a network of leaders, coaches, and educators available with a click of a button that I know that I can reach out to with questions and receive suggestions when something comes up, is being networked. This is especially important in my current position, as there is no one else at my school in a similar role. Therefore, it is so important to me that I have a community outside of school that I know I am able to connect with.

d) What opportunities will students and teachers have in your school to make connections outside of it?

Whenever the opportunity presents itself, I introduce teachers from my school to other educators with similar interests via Twitter. I also coach and offer PD opportunities in my school to help guide teachers in Twitter chats using common hashtags to be part of a discussion about a topic that interests them. Some of the most recent Twitter chats I have introduced my team to are: #DesignThinking, #Gamification, #IMMOOC, #MinecraftEdu, #Frimm, #GlobalEdu and #flexibleseating. In addition, as previously mentioned, each grade level is encouraged to connect with another school, therefore I am always supporting and working with teachers to help them connect their classroom with other ones.

5. a) Observant – Share a time you were inspired by something outside of education and brought it into the school.

Recently I have begun the Miracle Morning and I often will speak about this or make reference to this when I get asked how do I have time to blog or to be on Social Media all the time. I share and explain that I have built these items into my Miracle Morning routine and it really helps me advance and stay on top of being connected.

b) Where do you find your “best ideas”?

Currently, I find my best ideas on Twitter & Pinterest!

6. Creators –
What have you created from your own learning? What impact did it have on you? Explain opportunities you have developed, or you would develop, for students to “create” to delve deeper into the curriculum. What about outside of the curriculum?

I have recently created a Design & Innovation course that encourages students to design an invention that helps solve a problem. Students work through the Design Cycle, based on the IB MYP Personal Project Design Cycle, that has students work through four steps: Inquiry, Planning, Creation, Reflection. This course is also very similar to what I have read about Genius Hour and Passion Project.

Cycle du projet -Design & Innovation- (1)

7. Resilient – 
Talk about a time that you overcame adversity in your life, either personally or professionally. What did you learn from the experience? How do you model resiliency to students? How do you develop resiliency in your students with varying levels of learning?

What I have learned so far to overcome adversity is to set goals and be determined to reach those goals. Having completed the Strengths Finder 2.0, I discovered that my top strength is achiever, which would most likely explain why I am a very determined individual who successfully reaches any desired objective. Therefore, this is something I constantly try and model for my students and teachers, and I work with them in putting together a realistic plan to help them reach their goals.

8. Reflective –
How do you make time for reflection in your practice? What impact has “reflection” had on your role as a leader? How do you implement reflection time in learning for your students and teachers?

I believe blogging is a way to reflect on your practice and participating in online Twitter discussions, such as #IMMOOC. I am quite impressed by the amount of questions being asked on Twitter chats that provoke reflection. As for the teachers I work with during our one-on-one meetings, I often ask questions to encourage them to reflect on something new they tried. For my students, they are asked to fill out a reflection journal at the end of each Design & Innovation class. Students are also asked to complete a self-evaluation that encourages them to reflect on some of the challenges they were faced with throughout their project. Next steps, in collaboration with the principles, we would like to incorporate reflection as part of something we ask of the teachers to do when they have completed a workshop, seminar or other PD opportunities. Reflection is a very important process of the role of an educator as it helps us improve and allows us to continue to tweak the things we do each day.

Question for you –
How do you demonstrate the eight characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset?

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