Just Ask.

#Teacherbookclub just enjoyed its second online chat, featuring the man behind #InnovatorsMindset: George Couros. I’ve long been a a fan of his work, if there is one blog out there that educators need to make time for, it is “The Principal of Change.”  His book empowers educators everywhere to take action, and to see themselves as capable (if not responsible) for shaping the culture of their school, one conversation at a time:

The least innovative organizations often seem to surround themselves with like-minded people. Innovation often comes from conflict and disagreement, not in an adversarial way but in a way that promotes divergent thinking.”

I’ll come right out and say it: George Couros is one of my heroes.

He believes in the power of education.  More importantly he doesn’t think we need a program or a politician or an omniscient power to ‘fix’ schools.  He thinks teachers and students are already doing amazing things, and through our networks, our passions are starting a transformation in the world of education. He reminds us to see the best in ourselves, and the very best in our students:

“Think about it: we have the world at our fingertips, the ability to connect and create with people around the globe through so many different mediums. Yet what do most schools focus on when talking about technology? “Cyberbullying” and “digital safety.” … We are spending so much time telling our students about what they can’t do that we have lost focus on what we can do .”

potential futures demand we champion positivity in one another.

Thomas Hawk Tomorrow's Possibilities
Thomas Hawk
Tomorrow’s Possibilities


When we talk about ‘resources’ at schools, we need to audit our attitude and actions.  Those are resources too. Couros pushes us to take action and develop our #InnovatorsMindset one risk at a time:





“When students come to school, we continually tell them, “You need to share!”…Educators would all benefit if we decided to take our own advice. One way we can do that is through blogs. If you’re thinking, “I’m not a writer,” consider this: every opportunity to share with others on a global scale makes you think more deeply about what it is that you are sharing in the first place.”


You are what you share.

I wanted to share my George Couros fandom with the world, so, I did.  When I reached out to George Couros through Twitter, I doubted he would have time to sift through his some 117K followers and find my request, but, he did…within the hour.

If you doubt the power of Twitter, think about this for a minute: one Tweet from Central Switzerland made its way to a pretty busy, incredibly popular person across an ocean, and a plan was put into motion that same day.  As a result, Couros shared his advice, wisdom, and inspiration with educators from 15 different countries….on a Monday.

If you need inspiration, just ask.

Here are a few of the highlights from our hour last night, you can visit the entire chat here.

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 15.24.09

There’s a reason 192 people retweeted this: those two powerful words we need more of in schools: “What If….”

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 15.26.13

Three educators, three countries, one message: make people feel valued.

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 15.30.29

Reflect, create, share. (Repeat).

The #InnovatorsMindset is not something your school can buy.  It is something you make together, mend together, celebrate together.

I came across this incredible series of animated movements yesterday.  In light of last night’s chat, I want to thank George Couros, and let him know I appreciate the conductor he is in my animated movement of an academic year.













Thank you Flickr!

Thomas Hawk

Tomorrow’s Possibilities

That Kindling Moment

In my Learning2 Talk this April, one idea I wanted to share was the notion of seeing the school year as a campfire. In keeping with this vision, I wanted teachers to see themselves as kindling bearers rather than feeling perpetually pressured to be torch bearers.  Often schools have ideas needing just a bit more fuel, sometimes our fire needs a touch more tinder.

webhamster Campfire

It is easy to get lost in our own goals year after year.  It is important for the culture of our schools to look out for dimming flames. We should seek opportunities to be the spark that other ideas need.  I recently found the phenomenal blog of Katie Martin. In her post “Culture is Everything,” she drives this idea home. If you’ve been lucky to have worked at a school where the culture is a motivating force, you’ll quickly agree with what Martin has to say about the efforts we need to take in grooming the culture of our shared campus.

We know that kids (and adults) learn better when learning has an authentic purpose, subjects are integrated, and the learner has agency and choice in the process.  Because of this, project-based learning is BIG right now and rightly so.  You might wonder–Is there professional learning to support PBL? Are there programs that provide resources? Are there models that teachers can see and use? The answer to all of these questions is yes. Yes, you can provide all of these things and support teachers in the process to develop great projects, and you should, but it’s not enough.

I have seen some amazing examples of how project-based learning changes how kids learn in school when educators embrace integrated, authentic ways of learning in school but I have also seen these ideal methods added on to traditional schooling that rarely changes how kids learn. If the culture doesn’t foster creativity, risk-taking and innovation, project-based learning (or any transformative initiative) can easily become another thing added on a teacher’s plate. In education we tend to focus on the programs, procedures and policies. When, in reality, the culture is what will truly empower teachers to make a meaningful impact on student outcomes.

What if you saw every week as yet another opportunity to shape the culture at your school?

What would you do? With whom would you want to sculpt?

Whether you see it that way or not, the reality is, week after week we are all doing something to define the culture we work and live in.

Last week, one of my colleagues, Valerie, took action.  Today, I am so incredibly thrilled to be hosting a second chat via #TeacherBookClub.  Our esteemed guest, George Couros, is going to join us on Twitter to share some of the wisdom behind his incredible book. Valerie (a budding innovator herself), really took to what Couros has to say in his text.  So much so, that she created a beautiful visual notes poster capturing some of her favorite key ideas:

At our Friday staff meeting, Valerie stood up, referenced her poster and advocated for attending the Twitter chat.  But that’s not the most amazing thing she did.  The action she took which was a ‘cultural shift’ a-ha moment happened next.  Valerie said, “If you want to learn about Twitter you can ask…” and she pointed to a lovely sampling of colleagues around the room.  She advocated for advocates.

“Leaders don’t create more followers, they create more leaders.” – Tom Peters

When we take the time to connect educators with other educators, when we show that a shared vision is coming into focus through our collective lenses, we are making our culture palpable.

Juan Salmoral Feeling
Juan Salmoral


What Valerie did in that #kindling moment was rev the engine Seth Godin describes in his post: The possibility of optimism (the optimism of possibility)

As soon as we realize that there is a difference between right now and what might happen next, we can move ourselves to the posture of possibility, to the self-fulfilling engine of optimism.

Which #kindling moment made the culture at your school palpable this month?