Innovation in EdTech

Month: October 2017

Are You Modeling Your Innovation? You Should Be

“It’s my job to learn first if I want to lead well” -@gcouros Creating change and building a culture of innovation often takes someone being willing to take the lead…

“It’s my job to learn first if I want to lead well” -@gcouros

Creating change and building a culture of innovation often takes someone being willing to take the lead on modeling the process. As leaders we have the responsibility to be that lead learner; to not only model the importance of personal growth, but also to forge a culture that supports innovation. Those around you need to feel safe to take risks and open with their learning. As a leader being open with your staff about taking a risks to innovate, knowing there is a chance this en devour will not work out can be worrisome, but also authentic.  It models the behaviors that are vital to innovation presenting your learning to the world, being willing to have your ideas be evaluated and being open to people question what your are doing.  At the same time you are leading, you are showing the real life benefits, providing an avenue to gain feedback and you are placing yourself in place where you can lead from experience.

In my roles as an assistant principal I see it as an important part of what I do, to model those values and processes that I know to be important. In reading Innovators Mindset I found myself reflecting, am I modeling innovation? As we know part of being innovative means taking risks. Whether you are a teacher or an administrator we have a tendency in our jobs as wanting to present ourselves as experts having all the answers. We don’t want to present ourselves to our students or staff as someone who doesn’t know. However, there is power is modeling a growth mindset by saying “I don’t know, but let me find out.” or even better, “let’s learn together!”

Ways I Found to Model Successfully


This has been an avenue I have found the most success. It has been through Twitter that I lurked and learned. I began to find my voice and groups that share my passion. I openly share that this is a place learn and engage. Participating and sharing during Twitter chats such as #leadupchat #cpchat #IMMOOC #SociaLeadia and #LeadLAP have all been a fantastic place to see others modeling their own learning. I encourage staff, colleagues, family and friends to utilize Twitter because people on Twitter are there to find people just like you, looking to learn. I’ve worked with my staff to run Twitter challenges, had a screen installed in the hallway to show our learning and engagement.


This year I presented on my passion for learning with my staff during a professional development day. It was a risk and a chance to model sharing. In the Innovators Mindset, it points out that as leaders, “our job, sometimes, is simply to be the spark, help build confidence, and then get out of the way.” That was my goal from sharing my learning, to hopefully be that spark to promote new thinking, a new connection or new approach to engaging with fellow educators. Presenting I think is something I will continue to do and refine after each one.

Being Present & a Lead Learner

“We rarely create something different till we experience something different.” @gcouros I strongly belief that in world we live in today that learning has to be ongoing and you have to practice what you preach. We cannot ask staff to continue to grow and learn if you do not take on that task yourself. Pick up a book with your staff, join a twitter chat, ask to join them in their collaboration. We know that Innovators Mindset show us that being in spaces where people actively share ideas make us smarter and being in the room with your staff will not only show support, but benefit you by learning alongside them. Out side of the learning it also provides you a chance to see the barriers they may face first hand or witness their breakthroughs; there is power in learning together.

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5 Reasons Why Your Comfort Zone may be Stopping Your to Innovation

 “If you don’t believe in your idea, why would anyone else?”  -@gcouros                                     …

 “If you don’t believe in your idea, why would anyone else?” 


1. Being Questioned:

There is comfort in knowing that if you are not stepping outside of your comfort zone, that you are less likely to have people question what you are doing.  Do something new, it will draw attention, guaranteed. Our brain is wired to look for patterns and if we see someone stepping out of the “pattern” or traditional practice it stands out. Thus, if you want to be innovative you will need to be ready to answer the big question: why?

Preparing yourself mentally to having your work questioned isn’t always easy and if we are honest, if you are really innovating, you have no idea if your idea will work. So we ask ourselves, ‘is it worth it?’ Sometimes the answer is no, so we stay in our comfort zone and average becomes ok. The kicker is that if people are questioning your work, there is a good chance you are the right path to something innovative. Keep going!

2. Risk of the Unknown

Lets look at why you love your “comfort zone.” It is a known to you, it is familiar arena, there is little chance of a surprise, and more often than not it is predictable. Who wouldn’t want this? It makes for a good work environment and something we strive for, however, there is little chance that innovation will be sparked out of this environment. Truly innovative ideas come from breaking into the unknown and taking a risk. It is a fact that producing something new means you can fail, it means you can be rejected and that you may have put a great deal of effort into something that did not work.  Yet, working in that space where there may not be guarantees, where there is risk,  spawns opportunities for you to learn and to stretch yourself.

3. New=Threatening

New equals change, period. Change is a loss for someone. Even the most innovate ideas will disrupt the way someone is doing their work. Your new idea or way of doing something may put you in a place to be the new expert and someone else a beginner and that can be threatening. Then you add the risk, the unknown and other aspects previously mentioned and it can be a really menacing proposition. Stay on target. As @gcouros points out in his book #InnovatorsMindset “when thinking about moving forward, focusing on the question, ‘What is best for learners?’ helps ensure your’re making the right decision.” While we know that promoting something new may ruffle some feathers and meet resistance, we keep going because we stay on target with our organizational goals and not continually working towards improvement is not an option.

4. Safe to Fail

Failing Safely. This is where the magic happens, but it is also where you need to have the put most work put in. Creating an environment where your coworkers feel safe to fail takes faith, trust, and have the expectation that they will not be punished for trying and these are things not easily gained. Furthermore, there needs to be an understanding that exploration is encouraged and failure is a very real outcome. However, it is also expected that you reflect, you review and try again. Nearly all great pieces of innovate work came from a number of failures and allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes.

The key to all of this is one of the key characteristics of the #InnovatorsMindset: Resiliency.

5. Fail forward

I’ve always held the position, that if we try and fail, worst case we are right back where we started. Now while this may not always be the case, however it is what I believe and will support those willing to be brave and step out and innovate. I found this quote resonating with me, “As you push the edges of the norm with your innovative ideas, hold onto your conviction and passion” -@gcouros He also notes the resilience is learned behavior; this is true. We can very much try, fail and give up and that is the end. You may not have any beacon to point the way or research to guide you. It comes down to your personal belief and having the wherewithal to keep going, to reflect and find some knowledge from your failure, you fail forward. You take the small wins (even if that is just learning what not to do) and move on.


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