Networked Innovation Pathway

 

I am writing this to share my process with the world. I am truly interested in the network effects that spur growth and creativity. So if you like the theme of change and innovation in education, I would love to connect with you. I am also writing in order to “process my process.” Writing for an authentic audience is very challenging and very productive. It pushes you to articulate your ideas as best as you can. Before I go on, let me give you some background information on who I am and the work I do.

I’m a Brazilian 42-year-old mom and educator who lives in Brasília, the capital city of our country. I have been in English Language Teaching for 22 years. After ten years working as a full-time teacher, I worked as an academic administrator in my school, Casa Thomas Jefferson, as course supervisor, a middle-management position of leadership. I have my English language and teaching credentials, but my academic background is in Anthropology. It was not until about a year ago that I reached a solid awareness that my social sciences background has had a tremendous influence on the way I view leadership. More about that in another post. =]

I have just resumed my work after a year-long medical leave. I am blessed. Having been through the health challenges that I have over these past 18 months has changed me completely. Somehow I managed to make the most of my time away from my very demanding job as an academic admin, and in the meantime I became Google Certified Trainer and more recently Google Certified Innovator in the BRZ17 cohort.

As I said, I am blessed. My innovation project is to design an innovation ecosystem to enable teachers to develop the skills and awareness needed to design meaningful 21st-century learning. (Here are links to my vision deck and my vision video.) I have recently had the go-ahead from the high leadership of my school to develop this transformation program with our teachers. The program is called Vision 2020, and I am also calling it a networked innovation pathway.   I am literally standing in the shoulders of giants in this innovation pathway. Their ideas and their experiences as educators and as innovators are inspiring me and helping me shape this program to suit the needs of my particular context. I am going to mention three people I consider my mentors. I follow them on Twitter and I read their blogs. I have to start with George Couros (@gcouros), because reading his book “The Innovator’s Mindset” was (has been, it keeps giving, it’s amazing) a turning point in my innovator trajectory. So I consider him my go-to mentor for inspiration and for connection. He is a major connecting node in my personal learning network. With this tweet, George introduced me to my second mentor, Mandy Froehlich (@forehlichm) and BAM!

Mandy’s series of posts on her Hierarchy of Needs for Innovation and Divergent Thinking provided me with a no-nonsense framework for developing this transformation program. I am planning the stages and actions of the program based on the ideas she proposes. 2018 will be the Climate/Culture and Effective Leadership development/consolidation stage of our program. In 2019, we will focus on Mindset and Professional Development, and in 2020 we hope to achieve our vision of Innovation and Divergent Thinking in our school. Although I’ve just described a timeline here, the real deal will not be that clean-cut, of course. It will be rather cyclical and messy, but Mandy’s framework gives Vision 2020 direction. Mandy Froehlich is my go-to mentor for direction and structure. She has made sense of what this path to innovation entails, and her hierarchy of needs is a valuable compass.

Time came for me to meet my third mentor, Katie Martin (@KatieMartinEdu). And (again) it was via George Couros on Twitter:

Now THAT post! Oh my. Treasure trove doesn’t begin to describe it. Katie Martin has this clarity of ideas, she just says it as it is. It’s powerful. 5 Reasons Professional Development is NOT Transforming Learning explains what NOT to do if you want to orchestrate productive professional development opportunities. Katie Martin is my go-to mentor for keeping me grounded and preventing me from spinning out of control with all the inspiration I get. She has been the sensible voice of experience and clarity in my head. I went on to watch Katie Martin’s TEDx on her website and was blown away by the simplicity and clarity of her words:

“If we understand that every system is perfectly designed to create the results it gets, then think about these two questions: are you creating systems for teachers to comply and implement your ideas and your programs? Or are you creating systems to bring people together, to learn and create better opportunities for the kids in their classrooms?” Katie Martin

Yes, Katie, I hope to be able to co-design Vision 2020 so that it grows to become a system in which WE create new and better opportunities for our kids in our classrooms. Thank you for this. And there are many more posts by her that have constantly brought me back to the reality of change in education. I had been meaning to write about my creative process throughout Vision 2020 for the sake of openness and learning together with the global educators community, and I decided it could no longer wait nudged by this tweet:

Katie Martin tweeting Mandy Froehlich. Yep. It does feel like George Couros quoting Steven Johnson on this blog post: 

“Chance favours the connected mind.” Steven Johnson

That quote actually sums it all up, I guess, the very spirit of what I’m trying to say in this post. I’ll be sure to stay connected with these three amazing mentors and the many, many more I have the privilege of following on Twitter. I’ll be writing about Vision 2020 here, and I welcome everyone to take part in this networked innovation pathway with us.

5 comments

  1. Good posting–lot’s of things to ponder. Anthropology and Innovation seem in conflict as in anthropology is about finding cultures in stasis long enough to create distinguishable artifacts and then to be smart enough leave lots of them around so they’re super easy to discover. Or maybe innovation isn’t about change seen as progress and increased efficiency like we think of in the category of new consumer gadgets? More like innovation as a state of not being bored or trapped in a loop?
    Like the divergence pyramid.

    1. Thanks for reading, my friend! I have found that the process of making oneself strange to one’s own culture opens doors to possible paths to innovation. An openness to examining the quality of the “water” if you know what I mean. That’s a disposition I feel more present in my work as an educator… a bit of a social architect of sorts.

    2. The other day I was lecturing the wife on some sort of male nonsense and came to the conclusion, “well that won’t work!” There has to be something in things that don’t work that whisper to us to try them anyway. Think it spoiled the rest of the day to give up so quickly on a mistake.
      Got a copy of The Innovator’s Mindset on Kindle and will have a read. Thinking of innovation and reading why it tends to cluster at boundaries like the American East and West coasts, it seems people exposed to “strangers” and the way they manage in an unfamiliar world while behaving in unfamiliar ways expands people’s tolerance of difference.
      Interesting article https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-learning-brain-gets-bigger-then-smaller/
      I like this quote from the end on why our brains might get bigger and smaller: “It might be because your brain is no smarter than you are. Just as you don’t know how to move from novice to expert in a few optimal and wisely chosen moves (how could you?), your brain doesn’t either.”

  2. Hey Clarissa! I am so excited that you found the Hierarchy useful! I would love to hear about the plans that you have going forward and if there is any way that I could support you in your adventure and learn from you! Please reach out!

    1. Hey Mandy! Wow! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment! It means a lot, especially coming from you! I will certainly reach out to you throughout this change process. Very soon I’ll be sharing the website I’m creating for the program. It’s under construction but here’s the link for you to visit it if you have a moment: bit.ly/thomas2020

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