With that in mind, I asked my colleague and co-conspirator of the Heir of the King Project, Mary Howard to be my first guest blogger. Mary is a 6th Grade teacher at Grand Island Central Schools. Mary is creative, innovative, and driven to push the boundaries of Edtech. She has been a perfect fit to collaborate in my bleeding edge virtual world project. Mary and I will be presenting our work at the CIT Conference at the end of the month. Want to learn more about how Mary approaches education? Read below and then check out her blog: Yoursmarticles
INNOVATORS: Purposeful Pioneers or Involuntary Insurgents?
By: Mary Howard
Technology innovators are often referred to as pioneers; the ones who forge the way. Unfortunately, I may not be as brave and purposeful as the word “pioneer” implies. Call it whimsy. Call me capricious, but my storm chasing and manipulation of putty just happens. I am a technophile AND an educator with ideas that are anything BUT the status quo. I promise, however, that I am not brave or necessarily purposeful in my initiatives. If there is such as thing as an involuntary insurrection against traditional pedagogy, then that might be the best way to describe my technology drive.
Innovators need to be inspired. My grandfather loved clocks. A painter and fisherman by trade, he spent hours each evening buried beneath springs and gears, pendulums and numerically adorned faces. It happened upon him by accident, through boredom, actually. He was in bed ill and had nothing to do, so he disassembled a clock. The wonders within drew him to explore and seek more. He found his hook and was inspired to seek more knowledge and to exact change. Innovators need to be captured and enraptured. More importantly, they need to be willing to thrive on the process, not reliant upon an extrinsic reward; but how?
#1. Glom. (Is that a word?) Stand on the shoulders of the giants before you. Build a Personal Learning Network (PLN). Follow technology educators through whatever social media resources you can: Twitter, Instagram, Edmodo. Pinterest, and more. Follow (and read) EdTech blogs. As far as the educators that are gangbusters about technology, you don’t have to “be” them, just “see” them and see what they’re doing.
#2. Share. Start a blog. Present at a conference. Podcast. Pin. Share, even if you have nothing TO share. Merely having an audience will drive the creation process.
#3. Fail. “Every new beginning comes from some other new beginnings end”. It happens, and then we learn. I often tell my student teachers, “You can’t break the children with your mistakes” and you can’t. You’re human. The more human you appear to them, the more willing they are to try (and help you!) Mistakes spawn innovation.
#4. Have it YOUR way. Not to offend the king, but I can be impossible….ask my colleagues. If it’s not in the font I like, I change it. If I don’t think my students will enjoy it....I don’t do it. If someone says “it can’t be done” I stand with an outstretched arm like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix and wave in the challenge. You know your students. Provide them with opportunities that light their fires and help them become 21st century creators and seekers of knowledge.
#5. Just Do It (Alas, another media inspired slogan) Adopt one new strategy or one new idea, even if it’s not all that well thought out. Take a risk.
There’s no formula for innovation. Some would say that innovators are inherently inquisitive…to the point where they’re willing to chase an idea to a possible dead end. But that’s ok. (See Rule #3) Eventually you’ll find a way to see the world differently, and when you do, you’re an innovator. Whether you’re a purposeful pioneer or an involuntary insurgent, be proud. Inspire. Celebrate. In the end, you’ll know when you’re getting it right.