As a curriculum writer and educator who is trying to innovate how we teach science as we shift to the NGSS, I am often reminded that not everybody has an innovator's mindset. Many of us fall somewhere on the spectrum between having an innovator's mindset and blocking the innovation process as we all have individual personalities and we all deal with change differently. But this is a crucial time in education to reflect on where we fall on this spectrum.
I am obviously a huge fan of George Couros and his network of innovative educators who are making major shifts in education by supporting so many of us who are taking risks and trying new things. If you have yet to read the book The Innovators Mindset, take some time to read it this summer. But please, take a moment to think about how you respond when dealing with innovative ideas or colleagues who do have an innovator's mindset.
Realize that innovation is not easy or there would be a quick fix to all of our education problems. It is important that we try new things, have real conversations about pedagogy, and most of all base our decisions on what is best for students. If you are struggling with people who do not understand the great things you are doing and trying in your classroom, here are a few things you can do to help:
Keep up the great work and together we will make a difference in helping to develop future leaders in science and innovation!
Cari WIlliams is a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) for the Tustin Unified School District in Southern California. She holds a MS in Instructional Design and Technology from Cal State Fullerton and works on the side as a consultant writing science and STEAM curriculum and training teachers. After working for 12 years in the classroom as a middle school science and STEAM teacher, she transitioned into the role of Digital Learning Coach in 2013. In this role, Cari helped teachers innovate curriculum and shift pedagogies through the integration of educational technologies and practices found within the NGSS. Her most current work as a TOSA is focused on engineering design in robotics, computer science, and makerspaces. She is an official VEX Robotics event partner hosting tournaments for teams from around Southern California as well as leading 28 robotics programs servicing over 100 teams in the Tustin Unified School District. Although her expertise has taken her deep into STEAM education, she remains passionate and engaged in helping teachers transition to the NGSS through participating as a Science Peer Review Panelist for Achieve and acting as a Professional Learning Facilitator and Instructional Coach in-training for NSTA.