George Couros – Something Personal, Professional, and Profound

August 1, 2020 (Copied from Email #27 – Newsletter)

Something Profound 
I have been enjoying Livia Chan’s new blog and her thoughts on embracing opportunities resonated:

The portion where Livia discusses how we have to “create” opportunities ourselves if they do not come our way, especially resonated. 

Check out Livia’s blog and make sure you connect with her on Twitter.

Something Personal
Livia’s words reminded me of a significant shift in my thinking. 

Years ago, I was done with education.  I felt so frustrated and thought that I wasn’t making a difference.  A lack of purpose leads to a depletion of passion.  I had lost my purpose. 

One thing that made a tremendous impact on my career professionally, and to be honest, has impacted me personally, was having a fantastic principal (Kelly Wilkins) that saw things in me that I didn’t. She truly empowered me, and it changed my trajectory forever.

Sometimes, it is easier to believe in ourselves when we know someone else believes in us first. 

Kelly’s influence and example made me passionate about the work we do in education to not only empower our students but the adults that serve them as well. Do we leave those we serve better off because of our influence?

Years ago, I wrote about the importance of  being the person that inspires growth in others:

I would not want to be the one that holds back the ideas of another person because I have instilled a fear of imperfection in their practice; this is weak leadership at best.  Life is in beta; flaws will happen along the way. Embrace it, move on, and move forward.  Without that willingness, nothing from our imagination would ever become a reality.

Livia’s post brought a lot of those thoughts and ideas back to my mind, which is proof of how valuable it is to share our growth and learning with others.  It is a reminder of the power of our example in inspiring people to action.

This leads to the last part of the email, which I am incredibly excited to share!

Something Professional
Over the years, I have been blessed to provide professional learning opportunities to schools and districts all over the world.  Although Covid has had an impact on travel, I have still been able to work with so many through remote learning environments.

When working with educators, I’m asked variations of these same questions consistently:  

1. How do we build relationships in remote learning environments and address the social-emotional needs of our students? 

2. What are some practical ideas and strategies we can use in remote learning that can genuinely empower learners?

3.  How do we create opportunities for our students in remote learning situations that are not all about technology? 

4. How do we ensure we take care of our own mental and emotional health during such stressful times? 

5. How do we create opportunities for every learner (including ourselves) to be successful in such challenging times? 

If you read those questions, it is essential to realize that they matter in any and every situation for every learner, not just during a pandemic.

Here is the thing that I have learned about myself throughout my 20+ years in education. I have a lot of ideas on all of these questions, and I have been so lucky to have the chance to learn from so many educators around the world on strategies that are beneficial, but the solutions are created by those working closest to students.

Every context, situation, and learner we serve has different needs, and a one-size-fits-all approach might seem enticing, but it works for very few, including teachers. 

For years, I have been known for my work on educational technology, yet it has never been about “tools” for me, as there is something more critical where we should place our focus.  The image below from Bill Ferriter sums up a lot about my beliefs about how our use of technology should be more “learner-driven” than “tool-centric.”

Technology can ultimately make our world easier, but my passion has always been in how WE use technology in schools to make our world better.  

Over the past few weeks, I have been mentioning that I have been putting together a new course on “Developing the Innovator’s Mindset Through Remote, Face-to-Face, and Blended Learning,” and it is almost ready to share with the world. 

As I have been putting it together, I feel that this is my life’s work in education, all in one place. I will admit I have been so nervous about putting it out there, but I know it is something that can help educators with all of the uncertainty happening in schools, especially at the start of the school year. 

I wanted to put something together that is meant to inspire solutions in classrooms while providing a plethora of ideas that educators can use or modify in any situation. 

I am incredibly proud of this course and how it has turned out, and I share ideas on each of those five questions I wrote above. This is not a “band-aid” course, but something that can help provide insights for years to come. 

In it, I provide ideas for learning that can be used in remote, blended, and face-to-face learning situations.  I have also divided the lessons shared in the course into elementary, middle, and high school while providing ideas for learning with technology and away from technology.  Technology is extremely powerful, but we do not need to use it all of the time in every situation, including remote learning.

The lessons are centered around developing characteristics of “The Innovator’s Mindset” as listed below:

As I have shared in the previous weeks, you can preview the “empathetic” document, which is similar to the template for all of the other characteristics.  There are over 50 lessons/strategies that you can use just in the part where the characteristics of The Innovator’s Mindset are discussed!

The beautiful thing is that the ideas shared are ones that you can modify for any level that you teach. 

Throughout the course, there are video explanations for each part (slides included), ready-made templates that you can modify as you wish, PDF lesson ideas, as well as additional reading/viewing resources.

But it is not just resources, although there are so many! In each “chapter” of the course, I discuss “why” what I am sharing is so important, provide examples of “what” it can look like, and “how” it could be implemented in learning.  If we don’t understand the “why,” we don’t necessarily see the value of the “how” and the “what.” I also know that if we only talk about “why” many people think, “that’s great, but now what?” All of these things are explicitly addressed throughout.  

Since a lot of the focus of this course is on helping teachers with what they need to start the year off right, I wanted to get it out to you before the start of the school year with students.  Starting today (August 1), the course is available for pre-sale and is reduced from $147 to $97. It will officially be open for use on August 7, and I am so excited to see how it can help educators across the world.  Although it is something that you can do as an individual, it will also be great for teams, schools, and districts, so if after looking at the course you are interested in joining with a team, please fill out this form for pricing.  At the completion of the course, you will also receive a certificate for 30 Credit Hours that you can use for professional learning requirements in your school or district.

I poured my heart and soul into this because I know educators all over the world do the same with their work every single day.  I know it is almost “uncool” to say, but I am proud of this work. It is full of inspiration and ideas that I know can really assist in the transformational work that happens in schools, but ultimately, as I have always believed, the solution is still in the teachers and students in our classrooms.  

I look forward to having you join me in this process!

Check out the “Developing the Innovator’s Mindset Through Remote, Face-to-Face, and Blended Learning” course here!

Thank you so much for reading to the end of this email! I appreciate all of you that reach out and support me each week.  

I hope you have a great week!

George Couros