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Ask Simple Questions to Start Co-Designing Instruction with Students

  At the heart of any learner centered classroom is the co-designing of instruction by teachers and students. This can seem like a very daunting tasks at first. How can I work with each student individually to design a path to outcome mastery? How can I give up all of this control of my instruction? How can I get students to buy into this process? All of these questions are valid, but they are not the questions that should be asked at the start of this process. Students and teachers who are new to this process can't expect to go full on designing individual paths from scratch. Also, there is not going to be an equal balance between teacher and students when it comes to instructional design. At the beginning of the process, it makes sense for the locus of control to still lie mainly with the teacher. As I begin the process with a new group of students every year, I solicit information from students that I use to design instruction.  There are different times that I solicit this info

Innovate, Lose, Grow

One of the great stories of Innovation shared in Innovator's Mindset is that of Blockbuster and Netflix. A part of the story that I’d like to reflect on is the failure of Netflix. Most of us didn’t know about it because we didn’t have a personal interest in Netflix, yet. The graph below is taken from a series that Derek Bennington did at Chief Innovator.  As you can see Netflix was not an instant success. They lost money for years before they began to grow.

In a meeting four years ago, our assistant superintendent for teaching and learning Dr. Dana Monogue began by drawing a curve on the board similar to this:
She noted that the gains in our district had flatlined. Yes we were one of the highest performing district in the state now, but we weren’t preparing learners for tomorrow.  She put forth the challenge that we needed to change our model before we lost touch with the workplace of tomorrow and saw negative gains.
She next drew a second curve that represented a shift in practice, an attempt to innovate.

As you can see by this graph and the Netflix graph, they begin with loses. That day Dr. Monogue told us something I had never heard an administrator say before.  She communicated that our test scores might go down at first, but that’s ok. She let us know that she believed that short term losses are what long term success is built upon. Innovation requires a commitment to your goal and sticking to it.
It is one of those moments that I cling to as an educator.  It told me that my administration trusted me to be an agent of change, my failures didn’t define me, and they knew learning was more than just a score.  They understood that to innovate one must lose before growing.


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