Leading Innovative Change Series

“Vision without execution is hallucination.” ― Thomas A. Edison

For schools to be transformational, vision is only one part of the process. We must alter the way we do things as educators with one another, if we are going to see a difference in the classroom.  Actions have more impact than words and our experience matters.

My belief is that we have to look at what “innovation” really means to schools.  Many equate this to technology, but I believe that it is about a new way of thinking about teaching and learning.  The biggest “game-changer” in education is not a thing; it is an open mindset to all of the learning opportunities that come our way.

I have created the following series to help define some thoughts on the work and research that I have done over the past years on some important aspects of leading organizations towards transformational practice.  Each link below is to a more in-depth post sharing some ideas on each topic.

1. Learning First, Technology Second – Many organizations let technology drive the experience of learning, and although technology can be transformational in our practice, we must have a clear focus on what we want to do with learning before we move forward with technology.  Schools can no longer let the “tail wag the dog”.

2. A New Staff Experience – We spend a lot of time telling people how to change but not much time immersing them into new learning opportunities.  To embrace the new shifts in learning that we are seeing, experience is everything.

3. Excellence Lies Within – Often leaders look for weaknesses in organizations instead of focusing on a “strengths-based” approach.  By identifying and building upon strengths, even our weaknesses can be strongly developed.  It is essential that through this approach we build and develop leadership within our own organizations.

4. Narrow Your Focus – What are the three initiatives that you are working on in your district as a whole this year?  Can you answer this question? If you can’t, maybe there are too many things that are happening in your school to do anything effectively. If you want to become innovative, doing less can actually make us better.

5. Embrace an Open Culture – A leader can become a better teacher by simply walking into teacher classrooms every day and seeing different strategies and opportunities for learning.  This is an opportunity that every teacher should have and create by opening the doors to the learning that happens in their classroom through powerful reflection.  Excellence should not be hidden.

The big question for me when I looked at this work is “how do we move from pockets of innovation to a culture of innovation?” By sharing these strategies, and focusing on them at an organizational level, you can really transform the learning for each student.


  1. Patricia Opong

    In his readings, Mr. Couros, gently reminds us that our role as educators and administrators is to become agents of change and leaders of innovation in teaching and learning. The reading “The 8 Characteristics of the Innovative Leader” is a starting point for becoming innovation leaders. Mr. Couros’s challenges everyone especially educators not to be uncomfortable in challenging yourself and your students to be innovative in teaching, learning, thinking, and creativity, both in and out of the classroom. This innovativeness can lead to a better-rounded student-learner that embraces learning, and knowledge. Innovation instills in all of us — a belief that we can make a difference in and out of the classroom.
    As I reflect on my role in education, I think back to the teachers that inspired and stimulated my learning through innovation. This shaped and molded my career professionally and led me to become an educator. Currently, I teach in higher education which has many challenges. Challenges such as measurable outcomes, assessment, validation and program review can limit and restrict our ability to be innovative in the classroom; however, this is beginning to change at the institution that I teach. I believe innovation is continual and we have a responsibility to embrace new knowledge and change. Without change we cannot move forward in our thinking and our teaching.

    The textbook “The Innovators Mindset” encourages us, as educators, to empower our students to not be afraid to be innovative and it is acceptable to think outside of the box. Where we begin is up to each educator. I believe that as educators we must continue to embrace this paradigm while preparing our students for success in the classroom and the workplace. Let us all “lean in” and begin the journey.

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