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Innovator’s Mindset Book Club

February 22, 2016 – Meeting Number 2

Book Club Meeting Notes – Focus on Part II

Notes from the book:

Part II:

  • Issues of being a student
    • Students sit all day – sitting is exhausting
    • High school students are sitting passively and listening during 90% of classes
  • We must never forget what it is like as a leader/admin to be in a classroom
  • Build credibility with our students – actually do what we’re teaching them to do

Characteristics of Innovative Leader

    1. Visionary – break it down to make it fit in a classroom
    2. Empathetic – understand the needs of students – See pg 88 for SHIFT IN
    3. Open Risk Taker – openly show they are willing to take risks too
    4. Networked – twitter/blogs etc.
    5. Observant – learn to connect ideas and reshape them
    6. Team Builder – innovation often comes from conflict and disagreement – not in adversarial way – but in one that promotes growth and divergent thinking
    7. Focused on Relationships – involve staff/students in new ideas and creation – empower everyone so they have a role


  • School is all about CONTROL – must shift this idea – ask for washroom, due dates/deadlines etc. – Freedom = empowerment
  • We must teach learners how to be self-directed and guide their learning rather than rely on others to simply engage them
    • Engaging students means getting kids excited about our content, interests, and curricula
    • EMPOWERING means giving students the knowledge and skills to pursue their passions, interests and future
      • Power is about what you can control – freedom is what you can UNLEASH

School promotes starting by looking for answers.  LEARNING PROMOTES STARTING WITH QUESTIONS

School is about consuming.  LEARNING IS ABOUT CREATING

School is about finding information on something prescribed for you.  LEARNING IS ABOUT EXPLORING YOUR PASSIONS AND INTERESTS


School is scheduled at certain times.  LEARNING CAN HAPPEN ANY TIME, ALL OF THE TIME

School often isolates.  LEARNING IS OFTEN SOCIAL

School is standardized.  LEARNING IS PERSONAL

School teaches us to obtain information from certain people.  LEARNING PROMOTES THAT EVERYONE IS A TEACHER, AND EVERYONE IS A LEARNER



School promotes surface-level thinking.  LEARNING IS ABOUT DEEP EXPLORATION

8 things to look for in today’s classroom

    1. Voice – students should have opp to learn from others and share ideas with othersf
      1. Use twitter, blogs, pintrest etc. to achieve learning
    2. Choice – concerns what students learn and how
      1. Explore their passion is more likely to lead people to go deep in learning
    3. Time for Reflection – deeper learning – Blogs, feedback, surveys, one-on-ones
      1. Take extended breaks during class to reflect
      2. What is something you learned today
      3. One big question moving forward
    4. Opportunity for Innovation
    5. Critical Thinkers – become crap detectors
      1. understand own biases and beliefs
    6. Problem Finders/Solvers
    7. Self-Assessment – spend too much time documenting what students know and not enough time empowering to invest in own learning
      1. When the evaluator /teacher is not strong – the system is ineffective ***
      2. Digital portfolio
      3. Where do you need to grow
    8. Connected Learning – social media, local experts etc.
      1. If only learning from me – missing out on many learning opportunities


  • Defined more clearly what Innovation would be for the group moving forward
    • Agreed that it would be different for each subject area and would look differently in each class
    • It is a personal thing – as long it is new and better than you were doing before it is technically innovation
    • It is creating a student centered learning environment where the teacher is hands on alongside the students as a learner as well…not at the front of the room as purveyor of information
  • How do we get there? 4 main component to focus on
    • Assessment – creating a culture of learning and getting rid of % focus
    • Flexible scheduling – if not capable with our size of school at least using flex blocks to move beyond “homework” periods
    • Creative spaces – alternative environments for learning
    • Operation Collaboration – observing others in their classrooms etc. without going through LTA and planning months in advance
  • How do we move forward
    • Through conversations with each other and our departments about what innovation is and what it could look like
    • Encourage others to “give up control” in their classrooms
      • How to do this with “old school” practitioners who still teach with worksheets and lecture style
      • How to do this with content that still must be taught
      • How to do this with JR grades who require structure
      • How to get people to move out of their comfort zones in their teaching practices
        • Goes back to simple question – what is best for our students/learners
          • Encourage Staff to seek feedback from our students through feedback surveys or simple conversations
          • All admit that innovation is more work for us upfront but the rewards outweigh the work required
          • Always easier to fall back to traditional ways of teaching as it is easier
          • But we are not concerned with Easier….rather SIMPLER solutions to motivate, engage and empower our students
    • Proposed focus of COLLAB next year on our top 4 components from above
    • Also proposed ED Camps on innovative topics to get others in the school on board with idea of a culture of innovation rather than pockets of innovation


  • Book Club Part III – Focus your reading and brain on the WHAT DOES INNOVATION LOOK LIKE in your subject areas and how do we “gently lead” others in the school who are resistant to change to take steps towards innovative teaching.

Next meeting April some time?


January 14, 2016 – Meeting 1:

The plan was to have the first two chapters read and ready to discuss.  Most of us pushed through and read significantly more.  Great read for those who want to see if what they are doing is innovative or to create innovative teaching strategies to use in your classroom.  Summary of the first two chapters:

Innovator’s Mindset: The belief that the abilities, intelligence, and talents are developed so that they lead to the creation of new and better ideas

  • Innovation – Something new/better
    • Creating resiliency and grit
    • Focusing on community not individual
  • Done without sacrificing learning – content is still there just done with a ‘twist’
  • Lessons to find problems – foresee and fix them
  • Should only change if it is better – must be useable and makes things simpler
  • Schools can’t be only about content and information – must be able to wrestle with it, analyze it etc. – EMPOWERMENT
  • As leaders – if we ask teachers to do use their own time to do anything what we’re really telling them is: its not important
    • Need pull out/meetings to be meaningful
    • All hands on deck – not top down

Part I:

  • Start with the WHY and move towards the how and what
  • Invention – something totally new Iteration – changing something that already exists
  • Innovation is a way of thinking
    • Be careful not to transform – not the goal – take something already there and make it better
  • What is best for the learner? Individualized learning and empathy is where we need to start
  • Anytime we think differently about who we teach and how we teach – better learning opportunities
  • Failure is an important part of the process
    • Must have mechanisms in place to catch the falling student but yes they must experience setbacks to create grit and resiliency
  • Resiliency – ability to come back after a defeat or unsuccessful attempt
  • Grit – resolve or strength of character
  1. Would I want to be a learner in my own classroom?
    1. Do you find it engaging
  2. What is best for students?
  3. What is this student’s passion?
  4. What are some ways we can create a true learning community?
    1. Classroom that learns from all
  5. How did this work for our students?
    1. Feedback throughout the year – not just in form of grades but through conversations
  • Not that teachers don’t want to change, but they sometimes lack clear guidance and support to make the desired change

So what we took from it and questions moving forward:

  1. To do this we need to break down the timetable – flexible schedule/structures – similar to Thomas Haney, Inquiry Hub, A.L Fortune
  2. Continuing to work with what “innovation” is – what does it/could it look like at Walnut Grove
  3. Collaboration time is too formal/structured – question why that is?
  4. Student Aides – using them in Flex instead of actual block – given actual block off or part of block off and come in during Flex – all liked this idea – question of liability if something happens to student.
  5. Need an innovation budget to do things like Logan’s “Operation Collaboration” so we don’t have to schedule in advance we can do plan it a day or two out (Operation Collaboration was an idea that teachers could get pull out time to observe and collaborate with teachers in the building – issue of finding money to cover TOC cost and requesting pro-d money from local union is done 1-2months in advance did not allow this idea to take off in our school)
  6. IDS – part of flexible structure – need more of it without councilors or admin saying they need to take this, and this, and this…what is best for students must be done as a priority

Any thoughts or answers to questions or ideas moving forward would be helpful.

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