#IMMOOC Week 2

In Chapter 2 of The Innovator’s Mindset, Couros poses the following “Critical Questions for Educators:”

  • Would I want to be a learner in my own classroom?
  • What is best for this student?
  • What is this student’s passion?
  • What are some ways we can create a true learning community?
  • How did this work for our students?

This set of questions is powerful, and it is important that not only teachers, but all people who are responsible for making decisions about how our educational system operates, ask themselves these questions in the course of their thinking.

Too often we have no reason to look at our work from the eyes of a student. I was particularly struck by the anecdote Couros shares in Chapter 5 on a veteran teacher’s experience shadowing students for a full day (full blog post here). What if every person who makes decisions about education—not just teachers, but administrators, school board members, legislators—was required to experience school TODAY through the eyes of a student? My husband Marty recently served a brief term on our new unified school board, responsible for governing a union of schools serving about 1500 students in rural Vermont. The school board visited each school in the district over the course of the year, but the visits took place at night, when the schools were just buildings, not the vibrant learning communities that exist during the school day. The educational experience of most people serving on the school board is even more distant than those working in schools—many of Marty’s colleagues knew the schools as parents, but were not intimately familiar with the day to day life of the school. Yet these people are responsible for making major decisions about school budgets and programs, trying to do more with less. Marty was deeply impressed by the potential impact of shadowing students for the school board when I recounted Couros’s anecdote to him.

Teachers have day-to-day power over students’ experiences in their classrooms. School board members have large-scale power over student experience—they determine what our schools will look like in broad strokes. As innovators, we need to advocate for both micro (teacher) and macro (school board/policy maker) level innovation. Couros’s questions, and the idea of shadowing students, are powerful tools in helping conceptualize innovations at both levels—and potentially more powerful for those with less direct experience in our schools. However, perhaps we need a slightly modified set of questions for the macro level… I propose:

  • Would I want to be a learner in this school?
  • What is best for learning?
  • How can we build a system to build passion in our students?
  • What are some ways we can create a true learning community?
  • How did this work for our students?
  • How can we make this system simpler, and better?

What do you think about innovation at the macro level? Do we as educators have a place in directing the thinking of our school boards and legislators? How can we best advocate for student learning?



One thought on “#IMMOOC Week 2”

  1. Hi Hannah,
    I really got on board with your new set of questions. Simple isn’t always better, but usually it is. I think adding a lot of technology to a classroom can complicate things if we don’t do it mindfully.
    Additionally, calling attention to the macro level was important for me. A school can be massively effective if the innovation stretches beyond just a few classrooms.
    Thanks for provoking so many thoughts for me!!

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