Educators are busy with life and work and there is no doubt our plates are full, but when we find our tribe and connect with others to engage, learn, and grow we can be filled with a sense of “wholeheartedness.” Communities of practices have the power to renew us with purpose, passion, and rejuvenate us but you have to make the investment before they pay off. I love how Anne Marie Krolicki summed up how she felt being part of the IMMOOC community.
Over the last few weeks, I have noticed a huge change in myself, both as a person and as an educator. It is amazing what fueling your passion can do for all aspects of your life. I have had more energy for my family, for my students, and for myself, and it hasn’t been an energy burst — like the kind I need for a week or two when I have a lot going on. That type of energy isn’t sustainable, and when the busy weeks are over, you’re left feeling empty — drained. The energy I feel now fills me up and keeps me constantly pushing for more.
It’s time for the 3rd round of the Innovator’s Mindset MOOC (IMMOOC) and I couldn’t be more excited to get started! If you haven’t read The Innovator’s Mindset yet, get ready to be pushed, inspired and ready to do create better experiences for learners. And if you have read it, rereading as part of the IMMOOC has been so powerful for me and so many other educators, so get ready to go so much deeper with this community of learners. As if the book wasn’t awesome enough, we have amazing guests lined up for the live show that I can’t wait to talk with and learn from. It’s awesome to have listeners sharing responses live on Twitter and we get in a few questions from participants. If you miss the show live, you can listen anywhere. People have listened washing their cars, doing dishes, riding their bikes, driving to work… there are lots of different ways that you can tune in. And to top it off, every Thursday for the next 6 weeks Tara Martin , Annick Rauch and I will be co-hosting the fast and furious Twitter chat and hope you join in with us. More details on the schedule here and make sure to check immooc.org for more updates.
Although this all sounds great and you are super excited life can get in the way and it becomes harder to follow through and even with the best intentions. To help all of those who are new or maybe those who are coming back for round 2 or 3, I posted in our Facebook Group and asked some of the veteran IMMOOC’ers what they have learned and here are some tips to make the most of the experience.
Connect with the #IMMOOC Crew
There are some seriously amazing educators around the world who are more like you than you know and are facing similar challenges and pushing forward to do what is right for the learners they serve. Find them, connect with them, learn from them and share what you are learning. This is an opportunity to connect with people around the world but also people in your community. Encourage a co-worker or team or district to join with you. Also, make sure you connect on Twitter with #IMMOOC and join the Facebook group if you haven’t already. Mike Mohammed put together this list of the IMMOOC crew on Twitter and there are plenty more. Make sure and follow them and the #IMMOOC hashtag on Twitter and join the Facebook group if you haven’t already.
Try Something and Share It
Everyone is in a different place and it’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing but the best way to get to the next level is by doing something. The people who learned the most and grew the most tried something as a result of what they were learning. From asking student’s opinions, to giving students choice in projects, to trying new resources and sharing ideas, this community is about action to create new and better opportunities for learners. “The secret is to get started and do something now to learn from it and improve.
Open reflection is a powerful part of the learning process and by so many people sharing their learning in the IMMOOC community and beyond we all grew exponentially. In Mena & Francois’ collaborative post they share, “By having an open culture of collaboration, our ideas can be validated, challenged, and even become an inspiration for someone else to take the idea and run with it for the greater good, right?”
Find an Accountability Buddy
An accountability partner is someone who will check in on you and who you are accountable to follow through- you know like the friend that you make plans to go to the gym with so that you actually go because you don’t want to let them down. Matt Arend says, “As someone who watched from the sidelines for the 1st IMMOOC and participated in the 2nd, be sure to find yourself someone to hold you accountable for the learning. Keep an open mind and be prepared to grow like you have never grown before.” When you find a person that pushes you, encourages you and reflects with you, and challenges you to always be better, you can’t help but improve. Just reach out and connect with someone. It doesn’t have to be someone you know. We are all in this together, so find someone to who can hold you accountable and you can do the same for them. I can’t tell you how many great friendships have evolved from being “accountability buddies.”
Blog– Really Just Do It
I started blogging after a less than gentle nudge from George to share what I was doing. I had so many documents saved on my computer and lots of sticky notes with ideas all over that I never shared with anyone because they were never “ready.” To be honest, I never thought that anyone would care. I always thought that was reserved for the experts and I wouldn’t have anything to offer. After almost 2 years of blogging, I have stepped out of my comfort zone and the authentic audience has pushed me to develop my ideas and my network. As a result, I have grown more professionally and learned so much more than I ever could have imagined.
It is awesome to see the same thing happen for others as they begin to blog and share their thinking. Carrian Cook commented in the Facebook group about how blogging and the impact it has had on her.
“I have never blogged before and this has given me an opportunity to reflect on what I am reading each week. It has also helped me relate to my students who can’t think of anything to write about.” It has been good for me to put my thoughts down to really internalize what’s going on in my head.”
As George reminds us often if we aren’t willing to step out of our comfort zones and model for those we serve, how can we ask them (or expect them) to do anything differently? We can’t, really. So, forget the excuses and just start your blog. It won’t be perfect, you can always make changes but now is the time to start. We can’t wait to read it!
Jump into the Twitter Chat
The Twitter chat is fast and furious but fun so jump in and don’t worry about reading everything, it’s almost impossible. Last round Michael Buist posted a blog about his frustration with the fast-paced Twitter chats. He didn’t just vent though, he asked for help, “If anyone has any ideas of how to filter and participate in large Twitter chats, I’d love to hear from you.” The community shared ideas and shared similar feelings and suggestions. Michael took suggestions, filtered his Tweet Deck thanks to some great ideas and shared with everyone else and many people had a more improved experience as a result. Tara has created this awesome post with those tips and much more. She lays it all out and gives great ideas for making it manageable. This is how we all get better. We try some things, learn through the process and improve.
With complex change, there is no one “right” answer because each context is different and has unique strengths and challenges. To create the opportunities for learning and innovation, leaders must engage diverse stakeholders, ask questions to understand the needs in their community, and empower people to figure out how to solve challenges they face. In the next 6 weeks we will be connecting educators around the world in the Innovator’s Mindset #IMMOOC to discuss and learn about new ideas, shift thinking and ultimately create new and better opportunities for the learners we serve. George Couros highlights in the Innovator’s Mindset, “Often the biggest barrier to innovation is our own way of thinking.” I am looking forward to hearing new ideas from educators around the world to expand my own thinking. We hope you join us!