#DBC50Summer 9/50: The Innovator’s Mindset

Ladies and gentlemen, I went to church this morning. That is… the educational church of The Innovator’s Mindset with a message from George Couros. I read the book in early 2017. I attended the North Carolina Technology in Education Society (NCTIES) conference in March 2017 where George was the closing keynote speaker. During this time, I attended the closing keynote, as well as two other sessions he facilitated: Blogging as Professional and Student Portfolio and Your Digital Footprint. I was so inspired that my #ncties17 recap that I presented to our digital leadership team was solely focused on George’s sessions. I reread the book for #DBC50Summer… and oh my – prepare for the goodness that comes from Book 9 of 50!

I learned through reading George’s book that he has a thing, maybe subconsciously, for the number eight. He starts us off with “The 8 Characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset”, brings us into “8 Things to Look For in Today’s Classroom,” and he finally loops into “8 Things to Look For in Today’s Professional Learning”. In honor of George’s obvious love (or highly coincidental repetition) of the number 8, I present to you the 8 Things I Take Away From The Innovator’s Mindset, in no particular order.

*Note: I usually only pull ONE thing I will implement in the coming school year, but I’ve just got to tell you that one isn’t going to happen with this book – there’s so much goodness here that I can easily double the eight I’m going to share.  However, I feel that I am granted 8 ideas to hold closely here because I, like George, was put in a pilot position and given a title that makes people stop and say, “WHAT?” – I referenced in an earlier post that having the word “Innovation” in my title scares me silly. It really ups the bar, and if I’m going to have that word in my title, I’m going to darn well own it! I don’t want to feed into the buzzword epidemic; I want folks to see my title, see what my teachers, students, and I do together, and think “Oh, so THAT is innovation”.  Here’s eight ways I can own it in 2018-2019.

innovatorsmindset1. “Change is an opportunity to do something amazing!” There was a time that I used to fear change. I mean, seriously fear change! As someone who has major anxiety, change triggered all kinds of fear and paranoia. I wanted (read as needed) to know the who, what, where, when, how, and most importantly WHY things had to change. I’m not sure where the irrational fear of change came from, but it was there.  Even to this day, knowing there is a change coming causes that tinge of panic to creep up. I rarely let others see this more panicky side of me because I’m the one who is supposed to “embrace change” and help others work through their own reluctance to accept change. My inner circle sees it, bless their hearts. I have learned to cope with change through talking myself through what I imagine to be every possible scenario that could result from the change. If I am leading the change, I feel much more in control and those fears are waylaid for the most part. This quote is a HUGE takeaway for me because it allows me, and others, to see change as an opportunity and not an obstacle. Our art teacher is insanely talented and has this beautiful font-like calligraphy handwriting. This quote will be on a canvas in our media center before school starts. Period.

2. Noting that when I feel more in control of the change it isn’t as scary, I identify with George saying that teachers, and students, must be empowered and be part of the change. With that in mind, I will be sending a survey to ask teachers what professional development they WANT this year in regards to technology.  I serve as the digital learning coach for our school. Our district offers a ton of professional development based on what they perceive as needs, but it may not meet teachers’ wants. I want to give the people what they want!  This empowers them to be part of the change AND self-reflect, which is another point George makes!  We will go deep with the technology rather than wide.  Instead of throwing out a dozen or more “awesome new tools”, we will invest time into learning just a couple with intention and purpose.  I will still curate for teachers, but they can check that out if they so desire (if their plate is big enough – love that metaphor from the book, as well)

3. Leading into point three, self-reflection through digital portfolios and blogs is certainly an actionable item for me in the coming school year and beyond. I’m looking forward to sharing the implementation of #DBC50Summer via blogging.  I will also be adding my presentations from the past several years, along with my CV, as separate pages to build a full digital portfolio. Students in my district can also utilize Google Sites to reflect on their learning. This is something I need to think through, and is certainly a possibility moving forward!

4. “Sometimes the most valuable thing you get from the network isn’t an idea but the inspiration or courage to try something new.” I immediately starred and did a #BookSnap on this quote! Being a connected educator has given me great ideas and allowed me to share with others amazing things happening in our school.  However, more than that, it has given me confidence and courage. I so appreciate my PLN, and highly encourage you to get involved if you aren’t already.

5. Thinking in line with my PLN and being connected I have realized this summer, more than ever before, that the more you invest in your PLN, the more you get out of it. George puts it this way, “The more we connect, the more opportunities will come our way.” Investing time in your PLN and being connected will accelerate your growth.  He also states in his book, and on his blog, this quote.  Creating a school hashtag is something we’ve got to get nailed down. Looking forward to creating something original with administration this year!


6.  Teachers are learners, too!  George references this again and again throughout the pages of this amazing plea for making school’s relevant. I love that he speaks continually to everyone in the classroom being a teacher and a learner. Having a “flattened organization” allows for risk-taking.  This idea that we are all teachers and learners empowers students in a classroom and teachers in a school, administrators in a district, and on and on.  It reminds me of Laura Numeroff’s circular book If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. The feeling of empowerment squashes the power struggle that can occur.  With no power struggle, true relationships can form; trust can begin to take root.  When trust takes root, a culture of “yes” can be created.  This culture of “yes” can help eradicate a fear of failure, which can bloom into risk-taking. If we are encouraged to take risks and our students see us taking risks, they are more likely to take risks.  Risk-taking leads to the idea of an innovator’s mindset.  Without feeling the safety net to take risks, how will learners feel lead to create new and better ideas or products? Be a learner in your classroom and in your school.  Never feel like you’ve arrived.  For if you do, you’ve already “fallen behind”.  Be “relentlessly restless” as George puts it. I love that!

7. “What is best for this student?” It all boils down to this.  If you aren’t asking yourself this question with every decision you make, you need to back up and regroup.  When I say “YOU,” I am talking to me, too! It’s easy, within a culture of testing, to get frustrated and tired, possibly wanting to create cookie cutter lessons. Constantly asking ourselves this question keeps us grounded, rooted in what’s important. If we can’t answer this question with the latest initiative, project, idea, etc, that initiative, project, idea, etc is not good enough. Always, always, always have the individual student’s interest in mind.

8. This eighth point I’m taking away is kind of cheating the system a bit. It is one of the things I’m most passionate about, and an idea I come back to over and over again in my role. Hearing it from George Couros was validation and affirmation for me.  For the love of all things holy and good, PLEASE don’t use tech in a lesson just to check a box.  If it doesn’t make sense and doesn’t amplify your lesson to be something you could have never done without the tech, just don’t use it.  Like George says, it becomes a $1,000 pencil! I try to focus on creation with technology. It’s never about the technology as a glittery shiny object, but about what you can DO with the technology! “Technology should personalize, not standardize,” says George.

I could go on and on about takeaways from this book.  It was eye-opening as a leader, and as a learner. I love that our district has renamed the digital “train the trainers” to “Digital Lead Learners”.  It correlates beautifully with all that I am taking away from Book 9 in the DBC line up.  This book should be read by every district team, administrator, and school leader.  If the following applies to you, go get a copy of this book – I’d suggest a paper copy because you’ll be highlighting like crazy! I used TWO HIGHLIGHTERS – no lie!

If you actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader. ~John Quincy Adams

There are fantastic resources available from George Couros, including chapter guides and discussion questions ready for a book study!  George is also kind enough to upload his presentation resources (he practices what he preaches) on his website as well!  You can also subscribe to George’s Podcast and follow him on Twitter for further learning!  Join the community on Twitter using the hashtag #InnovatorsMindset! Please share your reflections, take aways, and thoughts on the #DBC50Summer Flipgrid (Password is DBCSummer)!  Andrea Paulakovich had the AMAZING idea to create an outlet for a global book study using Flipgrid!  This is a great place to connect with others.  Don’t be shy to be the first to share your thoughts – be a trendsetter!

It’s so hard to believe, but we’ve reached Book 10 in #DBC50Summer!  One fifth of the way through!!! Ten books in just over three weeks! Y’all – we’re DOING this!!! I had the privilege of meeting the author of the next book last month at #BadgeSummit and cannot wait to finally get to blog about his book!  Explore Like A Pirate by Michael Matera is coming up next!


16 thoughts on “#DBC50Summer 9/50: The Innovator’s Mindset

  1. …”teachers, and students, must be empowered and be part of the change.” George’s book should be read by administrators, Superintendents and Ministry of ED policy makers. We still have to ask permission to do anything innovative, as we are years behind what is happening in the real world. The answer is usually “no” and are threatened when we don’t beg permission. Hands-Tied!!


    • Agree that it isn’t going to be easy. But like Dave Burgess (@burgessdave) says, “It’s not supposed to be easy; it’s supposed to be worth it.” Keep pushing forward and the rest of us will, too! Education will change; as George says of businesses (and let’s face it – Education is a business), “Innovate or die.” Let’s be innovators together, even when it’s hard!


    • Thank you so much for reading, Lindsay! I have a passion for education & doing what’s best for kids. Our PLN is so vital & as George says, “Isolation is now a choice educators make. If you feel alone, it’s because you are not willing to connect.” Thankful for you!


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