Building the Culture of an Empowered Mindset Towards Technology Innovation

I have been having an incredible year of learning in my half-time role with Parkland School Division, along with speaking and consulting for other schools/districts.  I have learned a lot from both positions and I feel that it is very valuable to be able to look at school cultures within your organization, while also looking at what other schools do from an outsider’s perspective.

In this work, I have realized how truly important the role of principal is in building, not only in creating a positive culture, but an innovative one.  These schools continuously strive to understand the changes happening in our world to not only catch up, but to lead the way in providing amazing learning opportunities for our students.  Often times, as the principal goes, so does the culture of the school.  This is not to say that individual teachers can not be leading the way within the school themselves, but this goes back to the notion of “pockets of innovation” as opposed to a “culture of innovation”.  It is unlikely for an entire school to be “pushing the edge” if the principal or administrative team is not helping to pave the way for their community as they learn alongside of them.

Due to the observations of the past few years, I have decided to create a visual that discusses the correlation of the school mindset on technology innovation in learning, and the alignment it has with administrator support, professional development, and the corresponding hardware/infrastructure within the school/classroom.  Although what I have created is not an exact science, you will often see the overall belief of the school community align with many of these practices.

I have colour-coded the graphic so it is not confused with a rubric”, but more to show alignment between beliefs and practices.  The graphic is below (first draft).

Click for the full size image

If you are interested, you can get the full graphic on Flickr, as well as access to the Google Document where it was created (thanks to Jesse McLean for helping to edit this!).  Please feel free to share and use this within your own work or share any of your thoughts.



  1. This is a great chart! Thank you for sharing. If used when lesson planning, it will help educators to segway into the Empowered (growth) model with greater ease!

  2. Generous George strikes again! I hadn’t considered the application of mindset to organizations – works for me. I agree with Isniestrath, the chart it terrific and easily understood. I could see another row being added for technology integration and using SAMR for the columns. This visual shared on Edudemic is also very informative: I can see both of these pieces forming the foundation for advancing a “culture of innovation”. Thank you George – hope to see you at ISTE.

  3. Great post! I almost wish this graphic came with a caveat, though, reminding people that although technology IS transformative and DOES allow us to do things in the classroom that we never could before, it is also to be used purposefully. After all, using technology frequently is not the same as using technology skillfully (though they are not mutually exclusive), and indiscriminate use of technology is just as dangerous as none at all.

    And, while I agree that technology should be ubiquitous and available in classrooms, I’ve also found that sometimes, it is crammed down our throats and made out to be the “catch all” answer to bad teaching, which is a whole other issue entirely.


  4. Not sure how I ended up here but I find the rubric useful. We do some lectures for other schools now and then and it’s always difficult to know what to talk to them about. This will simplify things a lot and help us identify what kind of discussion they need to be part of.

  5. Thank you for the creative energy putting this together George. Your words always
    bring thoughts of growth and transformation to mind. What you’ve begun
    here can lead administrators towards creating a similar document for
    transformative learning, from learning environments to innovative pedagogical
    practices and assessments. I just read Eric Sheninger’s article “An
    Open Letter to Principals: Five Leadership Strategies for the New Year”
    (Aug 2011) and he touches on a Principal’s role to provide teachers with the
    tools to bring innovative learning to life (help teachers embrace risk-taking
    and flexibility, engage in collaborative and cutting edge professional learning
    (including PLN’s on Twitter), and allow your ‘passion to fuel your
    transformation of teaching’). George, thank you for providing such
    insight in bringing technology innovation forward into our classrooms.

  6. I totally agree with you. Most pressure is on teachers to include technology in the classrooms and be up-to-date but few people recognise the responsibility of principals in encouraging, supporting and socially validating the use of technology in the teaching-learning process.

  7. George, I really like this graphic and your rationale. It is specific, simple to read and understand, while broad enough to cover the essential elements of a connected school.

    How have you used this rubric (?) within your own school or other schools to reflect on innovation capacities as a staff?

  8. Thank you George for your reflection and realistic input that principals need to lead the way to a culture of innovations. I am lucky that my principal joins our innovative ideas and encourages the school community to experience and support innovative ideas by provides opportunities for learning, risk taking, sharing. We are also fortunate that our school board provide all the tools to embed technology for capturing students’ thinking and sharing learning. Our board also provides online support, SummIT, and edcamps. Looking forward to sharing learning from my students and colleagues this coming year as well as the large community online through twitter and chats.

  9. Thank you for your thoughtful reflection and the helpful graphic. This is really helpful to me in my role of working with principals. The graphic provides some concrete examples and shows a continuum that encourages growth. I plan to share this with my admin team. With much respect and appreciation! Jennie

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