Fail + Try Again = Grow

I’m inspired this morning. I came across a friend’s post of this article about highly gifted children by Di Cintio (Calgary Herald, 1.30.15), For gifted children, being intelligent can have dark implications. Reading it was sobering.

After reading, I reflected on those I have known who might fit this category. And I wonder if we – the collective we of our educational system – have failed them. I thought about how they worked in class, how they interacted with peers, and where their paths led.

The good news is, before I left the page, I follow a link to a blog post by Salman Kahn wherein he discusses fixed mindsets and growth mindsets, and the importance of helping children learn to persist through challenges to experience growth. Khan Academy created a video to help communicate the importance of mindset in learning.

Personally, I value a growth mindset. I never want to stop learning. My goal is to help elevate the conversation about how we encourage growth mindsets. I hold fast to my belief that we will transform traditional learning environments into ecosystems abundant with inspiration and support for experiment, risk taking and growth.

Good News: Bad News

The Good News
Will Richardson will be our keynote speaker at St. Clair County RESA’s 8th Annual 21st Century Learning Symposium scheduled for September 1, 2015 in Port Huron, MI.  Stay tuned for details.  Will is returning after six years to our Symposium lineup and we are excited.

Will helped propel us into a focused journey to transform teaching and learning in our county. He introduced us to “bushkrafft” boy whose heartwarming YouTube video was created in search of help with his bow drill technique.

“Please help me…I don’t know how to do it…
Like I said, please tell me how to do it!”

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I want to be the Chief Dreamer.

IMG_1570Wouldn’t it be fun to have the job of “Chief Dreamer” or “Chief Innovation Officer“? I, for one, would love that title – and the opportunity that it would afford. Not long ago, I received a phone call requesting a reference for my colleague, Bryan Setser, 2Revolutions. The person inquiring was from the department of education in a neighboring state. His title was Chief Innovation Officer. “Wow! I want your job,” I told him. I was so intrigued and impressed that a state would dedicate resources focused solely on innovation in learning. We need more innovators in education.

Check out this story published today in MindShift, Employers’ Challenge to Educators: Make School Relevant to Students’ Lives (Katrina Schwartz | June 23, 2014). In the piece, Tony Wagner is cited as calling for something, or someone new, to lead schools in a new direction. Wagner seeks,

“Dream Directors” in schools, whose job it would be to help students identify their dreams and scaffold tasks to help students obtain the skills needed for that dream.

A long line of thought leaders have raised their voices in a ground swell of similar sentiment. Thomas Friedman, Sir Ken Robinson, Stephen Heppell, and others are pushing schools toward reform, but many aren’t listening or at least aren’t acting swiftly enough. Featuring one such innovative program, Schwartz shares about the new direction Olin College is heading, aimed at producing innovators.

It’s time to wake up, shake off our traditional thinking, and give way wholeheartedly to innovation in education from pre-school through college. Our students deserve nothing less.

How do schools foster innovation?

Thomas Friedman’s op-ed column, Need a Job? Invent it!, in the NY Times (3.30.2013) surfaced again today in my LinkedIn group, 21st Century School Design. In the piece, Friedman shares insights gleaned from an exchange with Tony Wagner, Harvard education specialist, author of “Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World.”

Reading this piece again is timely as I am working with a county-wide group to implement a career and college-readiness system. Friedman reminds me that a good education isn’t everything.

Students need a host of personal traits – among them resilience, ingenuity, problem solving and persistence. These don’t line up well with the traditional curriculum of most schools.

Enter innovative approaches some schools – or some teachers – are implementing to inspire innovation and creativity. Among them:

Genius Hour – “a movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom” (

Maker Faire and the Maker Movement – “Maker Faire is the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth—a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement” (

There are many voices urging educators to find ways to foster student creativity. Among them, Sir Ken Robinson. Robinson’s mission is,

“To transform the culture of education and organizations with a richer conception of human creativity and intelligence.”

I continue to wonder: where would our country be if we could unleash the power of student creativity.

Get the word out: Explore engineering and computer science at OU

February 1, 2014 is Engineering and Computer Science Day at Oakland University, Michigan.  OU is a partner to St. Clair County KnowHow2Go. I proudly share this opportunity in hopes you will make sure a young person has an opportunity to learn more about engineering and computer science through this experience:


My apologies for our profession

I feel I have to apologize for my profession. In a day when we have the tools at our disposal to help children be successful in school, we – the collective “we” – still resist making them available broadly to students who would benefit from them.

Let’s imagine a similar scenario in the medical field. Suppose you had been in a terrible accident and lost a limb. You pursue a course of treatment with your doctor. One day, you walk into the doctor’s office thinking that he/she is going to recommend a prosthetic limb that will enable you to walk again, live a “normal” life again. How shocked would you be if, when you arrived at the doctor’s office, you were told,

“I know you could benefit from this artificial limb, but I’m not choosing to recommend it for you. It just wouldn’t be right to give you the same advantage as those who already have legs. Your artificial leg would be stronger, and would potentially give you an advantage in some cases. I don’t think that would be right.”

How long would you maintain that physician to treat you? Unfortunately, this scenario happens in schools daily. For this, I apologize. It’s not as if we don’t have solutions to address many of the needs preventing students from being successful today. We do.

Many of these solutions are featured in the videos listed in the “AT” – Assistive Technology post on Edutopia today. The lineup helps paint the picture of what assistive technology is and does for students.

Included in the group is a video that call us out as educators. I encourage you to view the line up and let me know what you think.