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The power of innovation. The power of creation. My children are 12, 10 and 7 and it has been a blessing and a beautiful journey to watch them grow.
They are now in the heart of their middle school and elementary educational journeys. I have also watched them transition from the fixed sets of legos where there are a certain number of pieces and you follow directions in a certain way to make a certain design: all fixed. They really enjoyed these experiences yet now they have shifted to creating designs on their own. The enjoy a large pile of legos with the flat base and they are creating houses, rooms, and a story that they develop in their mind and put that story into those tiny plastic pieces. It truly is beautiful and I am enjoying their stories.
I am the HS Principal at Port Jervis HS in Port Jervis, NY and have the privilege to be a part of the lives of my students during their high school years. Some are very into school, some just attend because they have to, and some struggle each and every day. Where does the spark go? Where does the “I love school” go for some kids between 4th and 8th grade?
I’ve learned so much over the past 2 years running my podcast: Education Leadership Beyond & writing this blog; researching, developing, and most importantly, meeting great educators out there. The following two experiences have greatly impacted my mindset: 1. Meeting George Couros and reading his book The Innovator’s Mindset & 2. Meeting Don Wettrick and his group from StartEd Up in Indiana and listening regularly to his podcast: The started up podcast. Don also has a powerful book that shares his passions of innovation: Pure Genius. Don is a public educator who has transformed his classroom, his purpose Into an entrepreneurial and Innovation based program for kids drive their own work. The students are in charge of their own success; work at the things that they want to do and are all in to make it work.
Don shares the moment that impacted his mindset by listening to Daniel Pink’s Ted Talk on motivation: learning what motivates people: mastery, autonomy, purpose. Well, our purpose has been educate children. Our purpose has been to get them to graduate and train them to do well in school. After these two amazing experiences, questions have come into my mind: Is it more than that? Can we do this differently? Should we be? Can we allow the teachers & students to have autonomy, mastery, and purpose and if so how can they still be successful on the state requirements for graduation and beyond? These two educators certainly have demonstrated that it can be done–and done well. Check out their work and open your mind to the question: How can we increase staff and student innovation to achieve a common goal? To be successful in school, ignite passions in school, and engage in meaningful work created BY the students, not FOR the students. Creating assessments that are more project-based, more publicly assessed, and are more attuned with the teachers’ and students’ passions: their autonomy, their mastery, and their purpose.
Check out Don’s work with his classes and StartEdUp here: http://www.startedupinnovation.com/
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Quote: The wisdom of Don’s father: “I don’t care if you teach 20 years, just don’t teach one year 20 times.” Chuck Wettrick
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