17 minutes | Nov 6, 2017
How to Take Risks in a System Not Built For It (Learning From Elon Musk)
While John Spencer and I were developing the LAUNCH Cycle, we came up with a few areas that were likely stumbling blocks in the creative (design-thinking inspired) process. One of the keys to the Launch Cycle is taking the time to Look, Listen, and Learn throughout the entire process (that is the L in the LAUNCH acronym). In talking with George Couros about the Launch Cycle we had a good conversation about when it was appropriate to share that learning. The quick answer: all the time. From start to finish you can be learning and sharing during the process. Whether it is students doing a Genius Hour Project, teachers creating their own PD, or school leaders implementing an initiative--the key is to be transparent with that learning process. Here's the problem: To be transparent and share your learning means to open yourself up to public failures. This is true for all of us. It is one of the biggest stumbling blocks in the creative process. And it's not the failing. It's the resiliency to get back up and keep trying. It's the tenacity to continue attacking the problem and developing solutions. It's the feeling that your work is not complete until you've made some sort of progress. And I know what you are saying in your head right now, because I'm saying the same thing: It's one thing to fail and bounce back myself or in a small group. It's a completely different level to fail in front of what seems like the whole world and try to keep going in the creative process! But, if we want to be great. If we want our students to be great. If we want our schools to be great. Failure, and sharing that failure, has to be a part of the process. It cannot be hidden. It cannot be swept under the rug. It cannot be forgotten. I'm right there with you. I need to learn how to fail better, and bounce back stronger, and not be afraid to share it with the world. For me, it gets me inspired to hear and see others sharing epic failures with an audience. Enter my inspiration: Elon Musk. Learning How to Fail From Elon Musk One of the best lessons on sharing the entire Launch Cycle is happening right now. We are living in an amazing time, where every step of SpaceX's program is being broadcasted, shared, and discussed in real-time. If you aren't sure what I'm talking about, here's the general gist (or you can read this 30,000-word article on it that I loved). Elon Musk was a co-founder of PayPal where he made millions of dollars when the company sold to eBay. Instead of buying yachts and living off his riches, Musk decided on tackling three of the biggest problems he could think of: Dependence on fossil fuels, space travel, and solar energy. He formed three companies. Tesla is the car company that makes electric cars and battery gigafactories. SolarCity is the smallest company founded on bringing solar energy to the masses. And then there is SpaceX. SpaceX has brought the Space Race back into the 21st century. Musk's goal is to eventually have a SpaceX team travel to Mars. And he is not joking about this. They are hitting almost every milestone along the way. But the best part of this entire story, is that we get to watch it live. The ups and downs, wins and failures. It's an awesome Design Thinking process happening right in front of our eyes. In 2005 when he was starting out on this journey with SpaceX, Musk said the following: Failure has been a huge part of SpaceX's ethos since the beginning. In fact, they almost failed their way out of business. 2006: First launch—failure 2007: Second launch—failure 2008: Third launch—failure They only had enough money and resources left for one more launch. It needed to be successful in order to get any type of funding. As described in the post linked to above, here's what happened: A friend of Musk, Adeo Ressi, describes it like this: “Everything hinged on that launch … If it works, epic success. If it fails — if one thing goes differently and it fails — epic failure. No in between. No partial credit. He’d had three failures already. It would have been over. We’re talking Harvard Business School case study — rich guy who goes into the rocket business and loses it all.” But on September 28, 2008, SpaceX set off the fourth launch—and nailed it. They put a dummy payload into orbit without a hitch, becoming only the second privately-funded company ever to do so. Falcon 1 was also the most cost-efficient rocket ever to launch—priced at $7.9 million, it cost less than a third of the best US alternative at the time. NASA took notice. The successful fourth launch was enough evidence for them that SpaceX was worth trusting, and at the end of 2008, NASA called Musk and told him they wanted to offer SpaceX a $1.6 billion contract to make 12 deliveries for them to the ISS. Notice, that all of these failures were very public. Livestreamed online. Written about in the mass media. Talked about among colleagues and employees at SpaceX. Then notice something else: You probably didn't know about any of this. One of the biggest lessons we can learn from Elon Musk about failing and bouncing back publicly is that even though you may share it with the world, it doesn't have to be humiliating. Musk and SpaceX failed proudly. It meant they were taking risks. It meant they were pushing forward and trying to make a better world. As teachers and leaders we can often feel defeated when we try something new, take a risk, and end up not getting the results we hoped for. Yet, if we share that journey we are inspiring others to take action themselves. We are showing the world that we aren't "settling" for what we have, but are actively working for something better. Musk on the Fundamental Problem with Taking Risks SpaceX has continued to fail since that successful launch. But with each failure (and with each success) they grow stronger as a company who practices resiliency and promotes risk-taking. Their latest risk is trying to land a rocket (that goes into orbit) onto a landing pad in the middle of the ocean. They have successfully landed a rocket on land, but for bigger launches they need the flexibility of landing the rocket on a robot boat at sea. So far they've had four attempts. All failures. Three were close, one not at all. Now as they go for their fifth attempt, articles like this one from Wired Magazine are popping up all over the internet: "Watch SpaceX Rocket (Probably) Crash Into a Robot Boat (Again)." But for SpaceX this is how they function. Failure is a part of the process. Let's take a look at the LAUNCH Cycle to see how they are sharing, taking risks, learning, and failing throughout this process. L: Look, Listen, and Learn In the first phase, SpaceX (including Musk) look at past experiences, listen to experts, and learn from each other about their next mission or launch. This isn't always pretty or easy. It's a lot of hard work to learn at a deep level, and you can miss things along the way. A: Ask Tons of Questions Now filled with a general understanding, they ask questions and dive deeper into their mission. Why didn't this work? Why did this system fail? Asking questions helps to get to the next step. U: Understanding the Process and/or Problem This leads to understanding the process or problem through experiences. Here SpaceX is failing and learning through those failures. They are also sharing with their team so everyone can be informed and get a deeper level of understanding. N: Navigate Ideas The SpaceX team now applies that newly acquired knowledge to potential solutions. In this phase, they navigate ideas. Here they not only brainstorm, but they also analyze ideas, combine ideas, and generate a concept for what they will create. C: Create a Prototype In this next phase, they create a prototype. This may be many prototypes. It could be a rocket, or a system for landing, or a way to use less fuel. Creation happens with failure often expected to be the initial result. H: Highlight and Fix Next, they begin to highlight what’s working and fix what’s failing. The goal here is to view this revision process as an experiment full of iterations, where every mistake takes them closer to success. This is happening right now at SpaceX by launching four times and failing four times. They continue to highlight, tweak, and fix. This is not easy when you are first starting to take risks. It may feel like the whole world is against you. It may feel like everyone thinks you are crazy. As a teacher or school leader you may be saying, "If I try something and fail, I'll never be allowed to take a creative risk again." Musk dealt with similar sanctions and possibilities when he was starting SpaceX and trying to figure out how to deal with the regulators. Regulators controlled how many "risks" you could take and what the ramifications were if you failed and messed up along the way. But in Musk's mind, the problem was not with the regulators themselves, but the entire system put in place. He points this out in one particular quote: There is a fundamental problem with regulators. If a regulator agrees to change a rule and something bad happens, they can easily lose their career. Whereas if they change a rule and something good happens, they don’t even get a reward. So, it’s very asymmetric. It’s then very easy to understand why regulators resist changing the rules. It’s because there’s a big punishment on one side and no reward on the other. How would any rational person behave in such a scenario? The situation he’s talking about is loss aversion (here's a great post on it). As Shane Parrish says, "it doesn’t stop at regulators, it extends into other areas as well. The same principle applies to most CEOs, managers, leaders, and teachers. If you want to predict behavior, take a close look at the incentives." Let's change the wording in that paragraph for school leaders and teacher scenario: There is a fundamental problem with teachers/leaders. If a teacher/leader agrees to change a rule and something bad happens, they can easily lose their career. Whereas if they change a rule and something good
28 minutes | Oct 8, 2017
How to ACTUALLY Do Project Based Learning
An Interview with Ross Cooper and Erin Murphy of Hacking Project Based Learning. We talk about the HOW, not just the WHY of PBL.
37 minutes | Sep 14, 2017
Learning From One of the Most Innovative Schools in the Country
I had the chance a while back to interview Bo Adams from Mount Vernon Presbyterian School. Bo is the Chief Learning and Innovation Officer at MVPS and Executive Director of MVIFI. He has a wonderful story to tell about Mount Vernon and his own personal journey into this current role and work. Listen to hear how MVPS continues to lead the way with a heart for empathy, and a focus on inquiry, impact, and innovation.
14 minutes | Sep 9, 2017
10 Practical Ways to Innovate in Any Classroom
I received a number of emails and questions about what types of “innovative work” I’ve seen in my role as a teacher, administrator, and speaker around the country. To be honest, there has been so much great work I’ve witnessed in my own district and traveling that it is hard to share it all. I’ve widdled it down to ten (because that seems like a solid number right?). These are some of the examples I share when doing workshops and working with teachers because I know they work and there are many teachers they can collaborate with that are already doing this type of learning. I’m calling these 10 examples practical because I believe they are doable. They work in most grade levels, in most schools, in most situations. However, as we talked about in a previous post, you and your students are going to have to be the ultimate decision makers on whether or not any of these ideas would work. 1. Let Your Students Design the Learning We all have those assignments, assessments, and units that need some revitalization. Often we toil, thinking about how we can design a project or activity that is going to engage our students and empower them to do amazing work. One time, I didn’t do this. One time, I asked and had a conversation with my students about the final assessment. And that one time turned into one of the most innovative projects I’ve ever been a part of: Project Global Inform. You see, when I brought my students into the actual “designing” process they took an enormous amount of ownership in how we would structure this final project, how we would grade this final project, and what the expectations were from them. Give your students a chance to design the learning with you and watch what can happen. 2. Run a Student-Led Edcamp In 2014 I read about Jason Seliskar running an “Elementary Unconference” as an Edcamp for his 4th grade students. It was fantastic. Thes students create their own learning boards (just like in Edcamp), schedule for the day/class, and then become experts and learners in each other’s session. Since then I’ve seen a number of schools and teachers run student-led edcamps (here is one at a MS) with great success. Why does it work? For the same reason Edcamp works for us teachers: They own the learning and experience. 3. Collaborate Globally I’ve written about this before. Participating in my first Global project (Flat Classroom Project) with my students changed me as a teacher and my perspective of what types of learning experiences we can have “in school” with our students. Now there are many different global collaboration/learning experiences you can take part in. Whether it is joining up for the Global Read Aloud, setting up a Mystery Skype callwith another class, or taking part in the first-ever Global Day of Design, your students can have the opportunity to work and learn with peers from around the world. 4. Maker Projects and Design Thinking Challenges Get your students making, creating, designing, building, and solving problems together with a Maker Project or Design Thinking Challenge. Check out the GlobalDayOfDesign.com for free ideas and Maker Projects to get started. 5. Genius Hour and 20% Time I get messages from teachers every day that have taken my free course on Genius Hour and 20% Time or read my book that are so excited about the work their students are doing. Genius Hour and 20% Time empowers students to go into a depth around a topic that they are curious about. They learn, research, document, and share their process with the world. This eventually turns into a time to create (based on what they have learned) and then present with their peers and much larger authentic audience. Giving students choice to learn and create based on their interests is one of the best ways to create the conditions for innovative work. 6. Class Challenge (Do It Together!) When I taught 11th grade English one of the best experiences was collaborating with my good friend and colleague Steve Mogg on a daily basis. Throughout the year we taught a number of novels and stories that had mystery, court room scenes, and crime scene investigations. So, at the end of the year we created a Class Challenge project that would pit each of our classes against each other in a 3-day long “CSI:Wissahickon” challenge. At the start of the project we would present the crime that had taken place, who the key players were, and what they needed to solve. Each day we would leave a series of clues around our classrooms and the school that would help each class solve the crime. By the end of the 3-days they would have to present their case as a class and we would decide who had the winning argument. It was a blast and incorporated all of those problem-solving and team-building skills we were looking for–but the students always loved it because they worked together as an entire class to complete the challenge. 7. Community Project I’ve recently witnessed students at my school building a beautiful table for the opening of a restaurant; working with the local watershed to solve water run-off problems; connecting with the community to run technology training; and putting on an entire TEDx production from start to finish. In each of these examples the project and work they were doing in school directly impacted the community. Sometimes we take for granted the opportunities for authentic learning experiences that are right outside our school doors. Connect with your local organizations, companies, and residents to see what types of projects would benefit the community while also empowering students to solve problems and create solutions. 8. Teach the World What You Know (create YouTube tutorials) I was in a fourth-grade classroom last month, watching two Garnet Valley school district teachers explain circuits (and how they work). Afterwards the students went through stations where they created circuits using Snapcircuits, Legos, and Minecraft! What was fascinating is how many of the students wanted to create Minecraft tutorial videos teaching the world how to make and design circuits. The students took pictures of what they created and shared them via their teacher’s class Twitter accounts. It reminded me that so many of our students want to teach the world what they know, have the platform to do it (YouTube), but aren’t always given the time in school. These teachers made time to allow their students to not only do the work but also share it with an audience! 9. Let Your Students Debate My favorite day of the marking period as a teacher, was the last day. Not because it was over, or grades were in, or we had a final assessment. It was the day I let my students argue and debate with me the entire class period. We created an Appeals Day where everything graded and assessed was up for discussion and debate. My students spent hours perfecting their arguments, teaming up with each other, collaborating, and building out their cases. It wasn’t so much the fact that they could get points back (they could if their argument was strong) but instead it was the opportunity to debate. You can read more about it here: Why I Let My Students Argue for Their Grades. 10. Write a Book/Release a Podcast Together This last one is something I’ve seen in a number of schools (including our own). It’s so easy now to publish a Kindel ebook or create a paperback book using CreateSpace and/or Blurb. Have a class writing assignment? Turn it into a published book by collaborating and putting it all together before getting in into the hands of parents, students, and other community members. The same thing can be done by recording students and creating a podcast that you can upload to the iTunes Podcast app using services like Libsyn or Stitcher. Have you tried any of these 10 things in your classroom? Would love to hear what you’ve done in the comments so others can try and learn from each other!
19 minutes | Sep 9, 2017
Are we preparing students to be Chefs or Cooks?
Usually, when I write a blog post it is because I want to dig deeper into a topic and explore its merit. The post then becomes my way of explaining to myself, and to anyone who reads it, the underlying ideas and what my thoughts, experiences, and takeaways are on the topic. This post is different. Today I want to talk about one of the most important topics to me: the future of our children. But I’m not going to dive into this topic by myself. I’m not going to cover it in a huge four-part series like I recently wrote. Instead, I want to share excerpts and thoughts from one of the most thought-provoking articles I’ve ever read on the subject. Maybe you are like me with four kids all young, all with a wide open possibility of what life is going to be like. Maybe you don’t have any kids, or maybe your kids are all grown, or maybe you have grandkids. In any case, if you are a teacher, leader, or learner it always comes back to our kids (at least it should always come back to what is best for kids). You can read the full article yourself (but it is extremely long at over 10,000 words) and I wanted to paraphrase and highlight some key takeaways from the article, mainly to make sure that we are thinking about and discussing this idea in our homes and in our schools. The question is, “Are we raising/preparing/teaching our students/children to be chefs or cooks?” Tim Urban explains the difference between a chef and a cook in his post for the blog >Wait But Why: The words “cook” and “chef” seem kind of like synonyms. And in the real world, they’re often used interchangeably. But in this post, when I say chef, I don’t mean any ordinary chef. I mean the trailblazing chef—the kind of chef who invents recipes. And for our purposes, everyone else who enters a kitchen—all those who follow recipes—is a cook. Everything you eat—every part of every cuisine we know so well—was at some point in the past created for the first time. Wheat, tomatoes, salt, and milk go back a long time, but at some point, someone said, “What if I take those ingredients and do this…and this…..and this……” and ended up with the world’s first pizza. That’s the work of a chef. Since then, god knows how many people have made a pizza. That’s the work of a cook. The chef reasons from first principles, and for the chef, the first principles are raw edible ingredients. Those are her puzzle pieces, her building blocks, and she works her way upwards from there, using her experience, her instincts, and her taste buds. The cook works off of some version of what’s already out there—a recipe of some kind, a meal she tried and liked, a dish she watched someone else make. What all of these cooks have in common is their starting point is something that already exists. Even the innovative cook is still making an iteration of a burger, a pizza, and a cake. At the very end of the spectrum, you have the chef. A chef might make good food or terrible food, but whatever she makes, it’s a result of her own reasoning process, from the selection of raw ingredients at the bottom to the finished dish at the top. A cook is then considered a follower. They can even be a creative follower, but they’ll never create from their own understanding, but instead always build on what others have done. They are often doing old things in new ways. Chefs, on the other hand, are experimenting and doing new things in new ways. They are building and experimenting and often failing. Are we encouraging students to experiment like a chef? Are we supporting them when their efforts turn into “terrible” food? Do we only praise students for cook-like efforts? Urban explains how, from a very young age, many of us have been rewarded for cook-like behaviors, while discouraged from digging deep like a chef might do: Everyone’s raised differently, but for most people I know, it went something like this: We were taught all kinds of things by our parents and teachers—what’s right and wrong, what’s safe and dangerous, the kind of person you should and shouldn’t be. But the idea was: I’m an adult so I know much more about this than you, it’s not up for debate, don’t argue, just obey. That’s when the cliché “Why?” game comes in (what ElonSpeak calls “the chained why”). A child’s instinct isn’t just to know what to do and not to do, she wants to understand the rules of her environment. And to understand something, you have to have a sense of how that thing was built. When parents and teachers tell a kid to do XYZ and to simply obey, it’s like installing a piece of already-designed software in the kid’s head. When kids ask Why? and then Why? and then Why?, they’re trying to deconstruct that software to see how it was built—to get down to the first principles underneath so they can weigh how much they should actually care about what the adults seem so insistent upon. The first few times a kid plays the Why game, parents think it’s cute. But many parents, and most teachers, soon come up with a way to cut the game off: Because I said so. “Because I said so” inserts a concrete floor into the child’s deconstruction effort below which no further Why’s may pass. It says, “You want first principles? There. There’s your floor. No more Why’s necessary. The problem with the “because I said so” game is that eventually our beliefs and interactions with the world are not rooted in what our parents say is true, but in what many other influencing people, institutions, and dogmas say is true. Urban illustrates this point masterfully (he’s also great at sketching): And this consistent game of “because I said so” leads many students to lose the creative chef side they once had. In fact, it’s been documented that this not only happens to some children, but to a huge population of kids as they grow up and become teenagers and adults. Couple that concept with what another favorite writer of mine, James Clear, explained recently on his blog: In the 1960s, a creative performance researcher named George Land conducted a study of 1,600 five-year-olds and 98 percent of the children scored in the “highly creative” range. Dr. Land re-tested each subject during five year increments. When the same children were 10-years-old, only 30 percent scored in the highly creative range. This number dropped to 12 percent by age 15 and just 2 percent by age 25. As the children grew into adults they effectively had the creativity trained out of them. In the words of Dr. Land, “non-creative behavior is learned.” It makes sense, right? Creative thinking is a close cousin of first principles reasoning. In both cases, the thinker needs to invent his own thought pathways. People think of creativity as a natural born talent, but it’s actually much more of a way of thinking—it’s the thinking version of painting onto a blank canvas. But to do that requires brain software that’s skilled and practiced at coming up with new things, and school trains us on the exact opposite concept—to follow the leader, single-file, and to get really good at taking tests. Instead of a blank canvas, school hands kids a coloring book and tells them to stay within the lines. Take a moment and think of your own life. Think of your own learning path. When did the term “learning” become synonymous with “school”? Why do students feel more stress centered around “learning” as the grow older? Why will students spend hours and hours of their own time learning how to create a virtual world in Minecraft, but feel discouraged when given time to learn in school? It’s been quite apparent to me over the past 10 years in public education as a teacher, administrator, and now parent—that most of us are saying the right things. We want students to be creative. We want students to do innovative work. We want authentic learning tasks and assessments. We want to challenge our students to be problem solvers. But, when most of us look at the practices in our own schools and our own homes, it looks much different than what we want. So, how do we get from here (wanting school and learning to look a certain way) to there (school and learning actually looking the way we want it to look)? I know I personally have to admit that I’ve often taken the easy route. It’s much easier to teach a class of cooks than it is a class of chefs.It’s much easier to raise cooks than it is to raise chefs. It’s much easier to tell my students and my own children that if they follow this magic formula (below) all will be ok: Listen. Do what you are told at all times. Get good grades. Get into a good college. Get a good job. Have a good life. The problem is that the magic formula doesn’t work anymore, and I’m not sure it ever did. I know many adults who have followed that exact path and can’t stand their job, and complain about their life. But, ultimately we have to ask ourselves the question as parents, teachers, and leaders–what is the purpose of all this schooling? What is the purpose for almost 15,000 hours of instruction and learning time in a school setting from K-12? Do we want to continue producing students who believe their life will be set as a cook? Or who want to live life like as a chef… History is full of the stories of chefs creating revolutions of apparent ingenuity through simple first principles reasoning. Genghis Khan organizing a smattering of tribes that had been fragmented for centuries using a powers of ten system in order to build one grand tribe that could sweep the world. Henry Ford creating cars with the out-of-the-box manufacturing technique of assembly-line production in order to bring cars to the masses for the first time. Marie Curie using unconventional methods to pioneer the theory of radioactivity and topple the “atoms are indivisible” assumption on its head (she won a Nobel Prize in both physics and chemistry—two prizes reserved exclusively for chefs). Martin Luther King taking a nonviolent Thoreau approach to a situation normally addressed by riots. Larry P
17 minutes | Sep 8, 2017
Starting a Student Innovation Lab (How We Did It At My School)
DT Phase Activity Empathy/ Look and Learn Visit #1: The Science Behind our Brains and What People Care About. Team-Building Activity: Escape the Room Objective: Identifying problems and who those problems impact. Researching Visit #2: Effective research and study design How to Make Toast Objective: A plan of action for researching ideas and defining/refining their audience needs. Ideating Visit #3: Navigating Ideas from a Brainstormed List Whiteboard Activity Objective: Come with current data and analysis. Choose problem to work on and begin ideating (coming up with solutions) Prototyping/ Creating Visit #4: Narrowing Solutions and Rapid Prototype Rapid Prototyping Challenge Objective: Finalize 1-2 solutions and come up with a plan for prototyping/creating solution. Revise/Iteration Visit #5: How to Use Feedback to Improve Your Solution Pitch Your Product Objective: Pitch finalized prototype and develop plan for getting feedback for further iteration. Launch Visit #6: Product-Market Fit and Successfully Sharing Your Solution with the World Objective: Plan for how to sell, pitch, and market your solution to the masses (your audience).
12 minutes | Sep 1, 2017
Who Decides What is Innovative?
I was talking with a teacher in my school district yesterday who said, “I just don’t know if we should try this again in class. It seems like lots of people online have already done it, and I read a few blog posts that really criticized it.” I asked her, “Well, how did it work for you and your students the first time?” “It was great,” she said. “The kids enjoyed it and want to do it again. But a lot of people think it’s all fun and games, not necessarily any substance to it.” I asked again, “Well, what do you think? Did it have substance and purpose in your class?” “Yes, the kids were engaged and excited to learn. It was fun but also had purpose.” I left the conversation happy we had talked it out, but also upset that others who were not in her class were trying to dissuade her from trying something new (and in her mind innovative) with her students. In fact, I was a bit angry. I’ve seen a lot of blog posts, articles, and videos where people are deciding what’s innovative for everyone. And while I respect the opinions of everyone sharing their thoughts online, I’m a bit tired of the judgment being placed on teachers and school leaders and people trying to do innovative work. There seems to be a big misconception, that if something was done before and it didn’t work in one classroom then it’s not innovative. Or if something has been done for five years already and it’s being done “everywhere” then it’s not innovative. If you’re a teacher, school leader, or parent who is trying something new to help your kids and your students learn better that’s awesome! Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s not innovative, and you shouldn’t try it, and it’s already been done before. We seem to forget that there’s this giant continuum we are all on. Some of us jump on at different points, and some of us experiment with different things, and some of us don’t know everything that’s been done before in other schools. If you’re a teacher and want to flip your classroom and you think that’s going to work for your students, then do it and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you’re thinking of doing Genius Hour or a 20% project but you’re seeing people online say, “well that’s not enough”, just do it. What your students are learning and creating will prove them wrong. If you want to use a new app, new tool, or something that people are saying is just another “fad” go ahead and experiment. If you think it’s going to work in your classroom, with your students (that you know best), then go and do it and don’t let them tell you it’s not innovative. If you want to use pencil and paper (or cardboard and duct tape) in new ways then go and do it because that’s what’s innovative and may work for your situation. There’s not some governing board that gets to decide what’s innovative and what’s not innovative. There’s not some expert out there that gets to say “well that won’t work in your classroom” because they don’t know your classroom. They don’t know your kids. They don’t know your circumstances. I wish we would spend less time debating what’s innovative work and more time celebrating what’s happening in our schools right now this very moment. Because there is so much good happening. Don’t let others sway you from trying something new in your class or school. Don’t let the opinions of people who know better stop you from doing things that might work. If it’s a new idea to you and your students and it works in your class then it’s innovative. The only people who get to decide what’s innovative are the people who are actually doing the work. Those that are teaching, leading, creating, sharing, and learning.