Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Day of Learning with George Couros - June 12, 2012

With another school year done for the summer one of my goals is to get caught up with my writing. June was a crazy month of learning for me, combined with a crazy month of teaching. It was a good month but I'm glad July is just about to arrive.

I was truly honoured when I was invited to attend a day of learning with George Couros. I was part of a group called the "Movers and Shakers" in my school district and we were brought together to learn with George.  It was a good day, and to no surprise I left the day with my brain spinning.

To begin with George set a few goals for us. The three main goals were to think about and share our stories of learning, to help create cultures of innovation, and to define why.  He asked us WHY our school district has had such a push on getting iPads into classrooms and it was interesting to see how we all reacted. To be perfectly honest a lot of us were stumped. While we all know what we are doing, coming up with our why was a lot harder to define.  That is the first problem that needs to be fixed.

George shared with us some of the things his district is focussing on, and WHY it is their focus. The WHY was a really key theme to the entire day.  Everyone in the room is doing great things with their students but how many of us have stopped to think about WHY we are doing what we are doing.  George had me thinking about the WHY all day long. He shared this great video with us by Simon Senek and if you haven't seen it I highly recommend that you do.

George also had us think about our sentence a project inspired by Daniel Pink. My initial sentence was "I am inspiring, connecting, engaging, sharing, and learning with others". While I liked that sentence on the day the more I read it the less I like it.  I'm now thinking that maybe my sentence should be as simple as "She was a teacher that never stopped learning." What do you think?

Another key point that George focussed on is that we don't want pockets of innovation we want cultures of innovation.  This also resinated in my head.  I believe that I am doing good things with my students and I am using the avenue of twitter and this blog to share what I am learning.  I didn't let  limited resources or lack of support at my school stop me from doing what I believe is best practice.  In addition I took the time to share at two professional development days with my staff, and three workshops at our district workshop in May.  I have connected with many face to face in my district to help get them started on their journey of change as well.  I have written articles for the IRA to help others on their journey. Never once did I let lack of support  stop me from doing  what I felt was important to do.  But am I just a pocket of innovation, or am I creating a culture of innovation?

When I stop to think about the culture in my school I wonder to myself, could I be doing more?  To be perfectly honest I worry some times that I am too out there for my administration and my staff. I'm not sure if that's true or not but it is something that I think about often.  Change is hard for everyone and helping people see the need to change is even tougher.  And who am I really, just one of three grade one teachers in my school. Plus it hasn't been easy to inspire change in my colleagues when our technology is limited and we struggle day to day just to meet basic needs of our students.  And don't even get me started on the job action we've been under, and how poorly we have been treated by our provincial government. That is not saying that you need technology to change but it certainly makes change a whole lot easier.  But I truly do want to create a culture of innovation so I will continue to share, explore, and support those on my staff.  I will continue to do it at the district, provincial, and international levels too.  I just need to figure out how to do it better so more people truly believe that moving forward is the right thing to do. That is certainly something George has me thinking about.

We also talked about Twitter and being connected to others.  As I have said over, and over, and over again Twitter has completely changed me as an educator and I can't even begin to imagine doing what I'm doing without the support of the Personal Learning Network I have fostered via Twitter.  I am constantly inspired and my learning/thinking is pushed daily.  It has helped me see that there are others like me in this world, and while I may be the crazy one at my school I'm not alone.  It's invigorating and exciting for me.  Plus this summer I am making a real effort to meet face to face with many of these amazing people and I can't wait.

At the end of the day George had us write a short summary of our day of learning.  This is what I had to say.

With head spinning and heart pounding you asked me what I learned today. The biggest thing by far is to constantly ask myself why. Why do I do what I do? I need to be able to answer that question no matter who asks. How do my actions inspire those around me? How do those I connect with inspire me?  For every action I need a reason and I must be mindful of that.  Ultimately am I a better person today than I was yesterday? That has to be my goal.

What is your why? How are you creating a culture of innovation? I'd love to hear from you.


  1. So much of this post celebrates who you are!
    - being a part of a group called "the movers and shakers"
    - focusing on the WHY
    - being a teacher "who never stops learning"
    - not being just a pocket of innovation, but wanting to develop a culture of innovation
    - connecting with others and finding inspiration

    But most of all you end with powerful questions to make your readers' heads spin. These will help us ponder our own WHYs and help us dig deep to foster an innovative culture around us, making us aware that the little pockets we may have developed aren't the answer. Thank you for helping me take a step back to focus on the "bigger picture".


  2. Thanks tons for this comment Celina. I think that even though now is a time to relax and recharge I am just too excited to learn and share. I will take time to relax this summer but I don't think I can turn the learning part of my brain off, ever. It really has been a huge year for me and in the list of blog posts still to write is my year in review. So much reflecting so much I want to process. Thanks for being you. Karen