Thursday, April 21, 2016

What Everyone Needs to Know About Innovation

Have you ever wondered why educators are reluctant to make changes?  Whether it is changing instructional methods, changing educational mindsets, or changing what our classrooms look like each day, many educators stick to the same formula and don’t let go.  This mindset is ironic because we live in a world that is completely the opposite.  We live in a society where change occurs daily.  Yet as educators, we stick to what we are comfortable with everyday and avoid change. 

In my session “What Everyone Needs to Know About Innovation” at the 2016 Battelle for KidsConnect for Success Conference at the Ohio Union, we are going to change.  We will examine innovative educational practices and programs and break down how they originated and became successful.  Attendees will learn that creativity isn’t something that people are born with or inherit.  Creativity is a mindset that can change lives by building self-confidence and following certain protocols to create change. 

There are many resources available to help anyone become innovative.  We will examine resources such as George Couros’s (@gcouros) book TheInnovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent and Lead a Culture ofCreativity and The Art of Innovation by Tom Kelley to learn more about how to be creative and innovative and how easy creativity will come to you. 

Everyone wants to be great at what they do.  It all starts with confidence and a desire to be great.  Developing that confidence will fuel your creativity.  Using creativity to find ways to offer innovative instructional practices, programs, and mindsets in classrooms and buildings will get everyone a step closer to being a great educator.

Sometime before you attend my session “What Everyone Needs to Know About Innovation” on June 13th, watch the video below and ask yourself, “What can I do differently to be a change agent and help people?” 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

How To Tell If You Love What You Do

Anyone who is a connected educator knows, once you get started using different resources and tools to stay connected, it can be hard to stop.  Participating in Twitter chats, Voxer groups, utilizing Facebook and Instagram to connect, blogging, reading blog posts and education articles, attending conferences and attending EdCamps to name a few, all take time.  But like anything else in life, when we want to be good at something, we need to get involved, practice and devote the required amount of time necessary to be successful. 

When you invest the time, focus, passion and energy to be successful, you demonstrate to yourself and others what you value.  When I first became an administrator and began to invest time in learning more from others so I could improve, I can honestly say it became addicting.  I continue to spend hours upon hours investing my time in chats, reading blog posts, asking questions, and connecting with educators from around the world.

While my time management isn’t the best and the balance between my growth and personal life constantly needs adjusted, the people closest to me identify why I do what I do.  They see my passion and love for what I do.  They can see what I want to help my students and staff become.  Its not a question of whether I love what I do everyday.  For the people closest to me, the question is, “How can I love what I do?” or my kids say, “Whatever I do in my life, I want to love it as much as Dad loves what he does.”

As an educator, do you love what you do?  Your answers to the questions below may help determine if you do:

Is getting better a priority for you?
Do you want to get better?  Do you feel a need to get better?  If you love what you do, you make getting better a priority in your life.  In education, we not only want to get better for ourselves, we look to get better so others can be great.  We make getting better a priority in our lives because we love what we do.

Do you invest time to get better?
If you want to get better, as stated above, you have to put the time in.  If you love to workout, you find time to workout.  You plan for it each day.  You make the time.  If you want to be a better educator or a better leader, you need to invest the time to get better.

Are you consistently investing the time to get better?
If you love something, you consistently invest time to improve.  You don’t do it once and then wonder why you didn’t get better.  When I was younger, I used to be a pretty good golfer.  I practice and played everyday.  When I occasionally play now, I know I am not that player anymore.  Why should I expect to be?  I don’t consistently invest the time to be good.  If you love what you do, consistently invest time to grow as an educator.

Does getting better drive you in your craft?
People who love what they do are passionate about their craft.  People who love what they do have an enormous sense of pride about getting better and being the best.  People who love what they do know “why” they want to get better.  As Eric Thomas says, You need to have a “why” to love what you do.  Your “why” will drive your passion and pride.  When you have that drive and others see that drive, everyone knows you love what you do.  It’s not an act.  It’s genuine.

Do you enjoy helping others? Does it excite you?
When you love what you do, you know helping others get better only makes your field stronger.  In education, when we help students and staff, it makes culture of education in our buildings, districts, and learning network stronger.   When you love what you do, you give back to others.  At that point, people who love what they do realize it is not about them, it’s about others.

Do you reach out to others to get better?
People who love what they do have no problem asking others for help.  They know others can help them grow.  Successful people build a network to get better.  None of us can be the best in anything without help from others.  When you love what you do, you make it a point on a daily basis to let others help you grow.

Are you giving your craft everything you have to offer?
Loving what you do means you bring everything to the table each day.  As educators, it doesn’t matter what your job description or position is.  Our students, parents, and communities deserve our absolute best each day.  

Are you willing to change and encourage others to change when necessary?
You always here the line, “Change is scary,” or “People fear change.”  When you love what you do, you don’t fear change, but look forward to it.  When you love what you do, you invest the time to change and innovate to improve yourself and others.  When you love what you do, you realize change is a part of the process towards overall success.  You model change so others the people around you will change for the better.  When you love what you do, you help improve the culture by your willingness to change and visualize the benefits of doing it differently than before.

If we are going to make a difference in the education field, we need to love what we do.  I find it hard to believe that when people get into an amazing field like education, they don’t have some type of love or passion for the field and want to help students.  If you read these questions and don’t believe you love what you do, you have two choices: You can look to do something else with your life or you can find your “why” and invest the time to begin to love what you do again.  If you choose option one, don’t feel ashamed.  Go find your passion and what drives you.  If you choose the second option, as a fellow educator, I need you start today.  Please invest the time to get better and make it a priority to love what you do.  Not only do you owe it to yourself, but also you owe to all of the students’ lives you touch each day. 

What questions do you think people need to ask to know if they love what they do?