I’m constantly amazed by how timing works out. I’m teaching my second year at my tiny school, comfortable enough to branch out and experiment with non-traditional teaching methods. I have a smaller group this year than last year, but in some ways that’s OK. The group I have has a culture I can work with, so I tried the StrengthsExplorer and then started dabbling with Genius Hour. And right when I decided to make that attempt, Don Wettrick announced his Global Innovation Exchange Challenge. So I jumped on it. I figured the worst that could happen is that it would flop and we might have a slightly embarrassing skype call with another class in a month.
But that isn’t what’s happening. I planned an hour a week for this project, and somehow it has taken over almost everything we do. I don’t know if my students’ plan really fits the definition of “innovative” – but the big thing I see is that they’re choosing to take action to fix a problem – and a substantial one at that. That’s huge for them. The project deserves its own blog post, so I’ll save the rest of the details for later.
But whatever happens with the Innovation Exchange, it’s exactly the structure I needed to get our Genius Hour moving and get the kids thinking in non-traditional ways. Wettrick’s videos have helped a ton with that. If I’d tried to start Genius Hour on my own, without this catalyst, I don’t know if it would have been successful. As it stands now, though, I’m super excited to see where this year goes.
It’s all in the timing. The right situation for me professionally, the right group of kids, and the right external opportunity to get things moving, all coming together at the right time. Also, I randomly picked up a copy of The Innovator’s Mindset at Barnes & Noble, only to discover as I venture into the Twitterverse for the first time that there’s a Massive Open Online Coarse (MOOC) about the book just around the corner (starts Sept. 25th!). So I signed up, even though I’ve never done anything remotely like this before. Timing!
I think it may be time for a rebranding of my social media presence, too. I might start over completely with a new blog. The #IMMOOC would be a good opportunity to do just that. This blog has been all about problem identification and hypothetical “what if’s”. That was fine for the phase of life that I was in during its height. I had to get my feet under me before I could move past dreaming into doing. But now I want to focus on action.
I still feel like I’m talking a big game without much promise of a future, though. I don’t even know if I’ll have students to teach next year, but after trying things this year, I don’t see how I can go back to strictly traditional curriculum. I’m trying things. I’m putting myself out there. I’m currently in the middle of a project that has grown far beyond what I imagined, but I think has the potential to be really great. Or it could explode in my face. Publicly. Either way, I’ve started something that I don’t think I can ever take back. I wouldn’t want to, though.