How to Unlock Your (and Your Student's) Innovative Mindset
“We need to move beyond the idea that an education is something that is provided for us and toward the idea that an education is something that we create for ourselves.”
In Chapter 3 of his book, The Innovator’s Mindset, George Couros outlines the eight characteristics that an innovative teacher must possess. Before delving into these characteristics, it is necessary to know what an “innovator’s mindset” is. According to Couros, an innovator’s mindset is “a way of thinking that creates something new and better...it is a way of considering concepts, processes, and potential outcomes; it is not a thing, task, or even technology” (p. 19 - 20). In other words, a true innovator approaches any problem or issue with a completely open mind, ready and willing to consider all options that will create a fresh, vital solution or, perhaps, lead down a different path than the one originally intended.
At first blush, such thinking seems aimed at entrepreneurs, maybe the future titans of the tech industry. However, Couros has written his book for teachers, principals, district administrators, and superintendents. He passionately encourages schools to remember that they exist to “encourage today’s learners to become creators and leaders (and)....create a better world” (p. 19). To help educators guide learners towards becoming creators and leaders, Couros has delineated eight characteristics that a teacher must cultivate in order to truly innovate in their classrooms.
According to Couros, innovative teachers are:
I wholeheartedly agree with all of these characteristics and, while I am just taking my first tentative steps towards developing my “innovator’s mindset,” I am thrilled to have begun the journey.
By adopting this mindset and attempting to teach it to my students, I have already seen some of them become more willing to take risks and to learn via trial and error. Not every activity I have designed has successfully enabled my students to find their innovator’s mindset, but I can see that they are becoming less afraid of doing so.
As a Special Education teacher, I have to help my students overcome their fear of failure and, really, their fear of learning, on a daily basis. If the only thing I ever accomplish in my teaching career is helping them overcome these fears, I will retire a happy man. If I can help them find their innovator’s mindset, I will retire a rich man.
Couros, George. The Innovator's Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and
Lead a Culture of Creativity. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting, 2015. Print.
Downes, Stephen. “A World to Change,” The Huffington Post, October 18, 2010, http://www.huffingtonpost/stephen-downes/a-world-to-change_b_762738.html
I am a Special Education teacher currently pursuing his Master of Arts in Information & Learning Technologies (Option: K-12) at CU Denver. I work at Boulder High School in Boulder, CO. Here you will find my thoughts on education.