What We Model Is What We Get


This is my #IMMOOC response to Part 1 (Chapters 1-3) of The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros.

“A-ha!”  “Yep.”   “Well, of course!”

As I read “Part 1: Innovation in Education” of The Innovator’s Mindset, I found myself responding out loud to the ideas presented. The stated purpose for this section of the book is to “provoke thought and inspire you to create your own innovative approach in your practice as an individual and for your organization.” Boy, did it ever get me thinking, especially as I think about myself as a leader. For this blog post, I chose several ideas from the book to share and reflect upon as I consider the impact that having an innovator’s mindset as an administrator can have on our school. After all, as Jimmy Casas says…

What we model is what we get.

Idea #1: If we were going to bridge that gap and create the kind of innovative organization we dreamed of, we needed to think differently.

As a school leader, I like to think that I encourage teachers to think differently. But do I really? And how often do I encourage myself to think differently? And beyond that, how often do I engage teachers in thinking about and exploring ideas that would be innovative? And even more basic (perhaps) would be to define what the innovative school of our dreams looks like, sounds like, and feels like. At ASD, we’re making strides in creating spaces in our school where innovation can be nurtured, but this idea seems distinctly different. The school of our dreams would be a reconceptualization of what school can be. How exciting is that?

Idea #2: We don’t necessarily need to transform the role of teachers, rather create a culture that inspires and empowers teachers to innovate in the pursuit of providing optimal learning experiences for their students.

For the 2017-18 academic year, we are focusing on three of the eight ASD Learning Principles. The idea of inspiring and empowering teachers to innovate resonated with me because one of the principles on which we’re focusing states, “Learning is enhanced when goals are clear and personalized.” As I think about what it means to provide optimal learning experiences for students, I believe that these experiences must be personalized for each student. As George says,

best for this learner quote

Idea #3: Having the freedom to fail is important to innovation. But even more important to the process are the traits of resiliency and grit.

This was the biggie. This was the most inspiring take-away idea from my reading. We (in the field of education) have gotten really good at telling students and each other that it’s not only okay to fail, it’s expected that we fail and we shouldn’t be afraid of failure. Instead, we should embrace failure as an opportunity to learn.

As I think about what I read, I’m wondering if our focus is on the wrong thing. Instead of focusing on failure, we should focus on the learning process. After all, failure isn’t the outcome we want for our students. Successful learning is the desired outcome. So, when students fail – and they will – we encourage them to get back in there and try again. And fail again. And try again. And so on.

What does this mean for me as a leader? I need to model failing, getting back in there, and trying again. And failing again. And trying again. And so on.


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  1. It’s inspiring when I see school leaders take risks and put themselves out there. It’s really powerful to show and share how human we all are and that failing is a necessary part of the journey. I obsessed on idea #1 that you reference this week. I wish you the best as you move forward and think differently.

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