I’ve always considered myself to be determined, dedicated, and passionate about my learning endeavors. As a student, when I’ve set my mind to do something I generally succeed. I have a drive for wanting to grow in my knowledge, and I am thankful for it. However, one thing I wouldn’t describe myself as is innovative. The paths I travel towards achievement have usually been well wandered before me. I tend to do what I’m told, because why fix what isn’t broken? This has worked for me as a student, but after reading two eye-opening articles this week, I realize it won’t work for me as a teacher. Our education system is failing in many ways, and in order to make any sort of change I will need to think outside of the box.
To start, I took a deeper look at myself as a student over the last semester. I was doubtful at first. Had I actually done anything that was innovative? After reading the first article, The Mindset of an Innovator by George Couros, I realized that I had. In this post, Couros writes a poetic personal statement about how he desires to function as an innovator. In order to become this, he lists certain keys to innovation. These include such things as constantly seeking to improve one’s abilities, being a role model, and being empathetic.
The line that really stuck out to me in his list was when he wrote, “I listen and learn from different perspectives, because I know we are much better together than we could ever be alone. I can learn from anyone and any situation.” Immediately, I thought of the personal-learning network I cultivated in digital literacy class a few weeks ago. As per the assignment, I was required to follow one hundred Twitter accounts and ten blogs that posted content relevant to what I wanted my personal-learning network to be about, which for me was both English education and general education. Although because it was required it wasn’t my own original idea, since I have done it I feel as though I have learned a ton by being connected to a myriad of people. Now that I have surrounded myself with other knowledgeable educators, I can continue to gather important ideas and then implement them in a few years when I myself am in the classroom. I’d consider that innovative.
The second article I read, despite being short, was packed with profound ideas. The chief of those ideas was that of “unlearning”. In, The Steep Unlearning Curve: 10 Things We Need to Unlearn Will Richardson defines unlearning as simply learning to see things in a new light with an open mind. This one was a little trickier to relate back to me because it is focused specifically on educators, but my big take-away came from number three on the list, “We need to unlearn the idea that learning itself is an event. In this day and age, it is a continual process.” This semester I was elected president of my college’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, which is an international English honor society. It’s a been a few weeks, and I’m slowly getting the hang of things. To get to this point, though, I’ve had to constantly learn from the people around me. The two club supervisors and former club president have taught me many things about not only how the organization runs, but how to be a leader. It is school affiliated, but Sigma Tau Delta isn’t school. Yet, I am learning. Constantly, continuously, every single day I learn from the world around me. Being able to recognize that and apply it to school and life is an innovation.
So now I suppose I can consider myself a person who is determined, dedicated, passionate, and (imperfectly inching towards being an imaginative) innovator. It’s a process, that much I’ve learned from the readings, but so is the how I have been learning, just in a different way. It will be well worth it in the long run, though. Becoming an innovator means not only improving the way that I look at education, but the way my future students will look at education as well. I am up for the challenge.