How to Unlock Your (and Your Student’s) Innovative Mindset
“We need to move beyond the idea that an education is something that is provided for us and toward the idea that an education is something that we create for ourselves.”
In Chapter 3 of his book, The Innovator’s Mindset, George Couros outlines the eight characteristics that an innovative teacher must possess. Before delving into these characteristics, it is necessary to know what an “innovator’s mindset” is. According to Couros, an innovator’s mindset is “a way of thinking that creates something new and better…it is a way of considering concepts, processes, and potential outcomes; it is not a thing, task, or even technology” (p. 19 – 20). In other words, a true innovator approaches any problem or issue with a completely open mind, ready and willing to consider all options that will create a fresh, vital solution or, perhaps, lead down a different path than the one originally intended.
At first blush, such thinking seems aimed at entrepreneurs, maybe the future titans of the tech industry. However, Couros has written his book for teachers, principals, district administrators, and superintendents. He passionately encourages schools to remember that they exist to “encourage today’s learners to become creators and leaders (and)….create a better world” (p. 19). To help educators guide learners towards becoming creators and leaders, Couros has delineated eight characteristics that a teacher must cultivate in order to truly innovate in their classrooms.
According to Couros, innovative teachers are:
I wholeheartedly agree with all of these characteristics and, while I am just taking my first tentative steps towards developing my “innovator’s mindset,” I am thrilled to have begun the journey.
By adopting this mindset and attempting to teach it to my students, I have already seen some of them become more willing to take risks and to learn via trial and error. Not every activity I have designed has successfully enabled my students to find their innovator’s mindset, but I can see that they are becoming less afraid of doing so.
As a Special Education teacher, I have to help my students overcome their fear of failure and, really, their fear of learning, on a daily basis. If the only thing I ever accomplish in my teaching career is helping them overcome these fears, I will retire a happy man. If I can help them find their innovator’s mindset, I will retire a rich man.
Couros, George. The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and
Downes, Stephen. “A World to Change,” The Huffington Post, October 18, 2010, http://www.huffingtonpost/stephen-downes/a-world-to-change_b_762738.html
- What are your main insights and ideas from the given reading?
There is a lot of truth told in this article. Teachers are awesome, and it takes a special person with specific characteristics to be a successful teacher. The two most important characteristics that were mentioned and that I believe are necessary traits as a teacher, are resiliency and reflection. Teachers go home tired because most of them lay it out on the line, and teachers hear and see things they wished they hadn’t. This is why resiliency is so important.
- How does this reading challenge/expand/contradict your definition of (digital) storytelling?
Reading this article reminded that to be an effective educator, or story teller it takes an Opportunity mind-set. Specific characteristics are needed to develop this quality.
- Having engaged this reading, what are you now curious about?
I am always interested in developing my skill sets at being a more effective teacher, communicator and story teller.
- What questions are you asking, particularly about (digital) storytelling?
I am wondering about each of the eight characteristics needed and which ones are my strengths and which ones I need to work on to advance in the area of developing an Opportunity Mind-set.
- What additional scholarship, popular media, teaching resources, or other media are related to your developing understanding of both (digital) storytelling and this reading?
Map out the story line: The Beginning, which sets the stage and introduces … A Storyteller’s skills include: emphasis, repetition, transition, pause and proportion.