From learning about to creating

“Change almost never fails because it’s too early. It almost always fails because it’s too late.” – Seth Godin

To me that “almost never” makes sense for this quote. I find it hard not to question such generalisations. I’ve learnt that they are not always true, and though they work as inspirational for almost everyone, it can be frustrating for others.
Back in the early 80s I went through a process I define as “the failure of success”. 

I was still in college studying “Public Translation”, not very happy as my real desire was to become a teacher, but that is another story.
One day, the teacher who had been my English teacher since I was a little child, called me on the phone and offered me to become partners in a language school project. (OMG! OMG! OMG!)

We founded “American School” together in our little city. Over 200 students showed up for registration during the first month and the number continued to grow. This sudden success and dream come true blew my mind. 

We worked like crazy but we were the owners of a thriving business. (You don’t like the word business? OK, we were the heads of an EFL innovative project)
Soon, I discovered we had different views on how we looked at teaching and learning. We worked so hard that I started to believe that we needed to hire new teachers so we could focus on the project above the teaching class. That started a never ending disagreement on how to handle our dream project.
Yes, we had lots of students and they were super happy and so were their parents.
Yes, we were getting more money than I had ever dreamt I could make as a teacher.
Yes! I was deeply unhappy.
Yes! I burnt out after 2 years. 
Yes! I quit.
Yes, I thought I would never go back to teaching.
Yes, I was wrong! 

I started from scratch again, little steps while I was doing other important stuff in life, I got married, got pregnant, had my beautiful daughter. 
I think I was not ready for change and I couldn’t deal with it. 
But I don’t regret any moment I went through, even when it was so much pain. I learned that I was capable of doing hard things, I learnt that happiness went far beyond money, I was capable of thinking that teaching and learning is much more than students willing to show up in the classroom and parents willing to pay. 

Above all, I learned we are usually if not always, beginning. And this is the way I look at life, like if we are the writers of “The Book of Beginning”

And .. I have started many many times. Moving places, divorce, bringing up my daughter, staying by her side even today when she is a wonderful adult and the many life challenges have been awesome opportunities to constantly move towards “I can do hard things” and “I can learn how to do things better.”

“committed to constant improvement and adaptation to meet the customer demands” – (kindle book, page 348)

Sometimes, my students demands go far below what I think is good for them. It takes courage and knowing about our mission as teachers to undergo the process of developing awareness, empathy and trust. If we are committed to “good practices in teaching and learning”, our students will discover something they were unaware of, something much better. Something they will appreciate with time.

The why of teaching: to change – improve – lives

Leaders are people who have influence over and can make an impact in the world

Innovation: a way of thinking that creates something new and better. Invention or Iteration
The innovator’s mindset
Belief that abilities, intelligence, and talents are developed so that they leas to the creation of new and better ideas
the role of the teacher in innovation
There’s no substitute for the teacher who designs authentic, participatory and relevant learning experiences for her unique population of students. The role of the teacher is to inspire learning and develop skills and mindsets of learners
Innovation starts with a question: 

What’s best for this learner? #InnovatorsMindset 

Simple steps to innovation

“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional” – John Maxwell

How do we create opportunities for innovation in our learning and teaching?
In order to create opportunities for innovation we have to be really willing to dare greatly, to let go of fear, to develop patience, to be resilient and to foster resilience. Maybe the most important thing is to develop an atmosphere of trust. Trust that we can do things better, that we do better things even if it is hard. 

I believe in the power of developing healthy relationships based on trust, this will allow our students to show up with their best self. 
We can be brave and scared at the same time. And this helps me deal with fear which I find is the highest barrier in our creative life.
What are some examples that you consider innovative?  How is it new and better than what previously existed?
We were working on developing creativity at work with my business students. 

We read articles, watched videos of people who dared to create innovative solutions to existing problems, we did research on the processes they followed to come up with the new and better products.
Then, I encouraged them to create their own prototype to solve any kind of problem they face either at work or in the personal lives. At this point I just didn’t want to narrow their choices. 
What I learned 

When we provide the right environment to allow students to ideate without fear of being wrong, to ask questions which might or might not have only one right answer (or they might not find the answer yet), when we challenge them to go beyond right and wrong, when we challenge them to ask What if …, students feel free to create and the result is always positive. 

Understanding we are all creative beings opens doors to unexpected opportunities, not because we can actually execute all of our ideas, this might not happen, but we become aware of innovation as a process. Creativity doesn’t mean it has to be productive, but it’s such a good starting point.
What my students learned and were grateful for

They are creative, they can be right and wrong and it’s OK, they can feel expansive, playful, learning is also fun!

They become aware of how asking questions in a different way, can change the answers they get. They feel confident that they can create what they want and need to create in English and hopefully this helps them be better thinkers and better workers in their native languages too. 
The real case

One of my students loves cycling and he prototyped an app which will enable cyclists to track performance in groups of cyclists. 
So much learning during this project!
How is it new from what we did before?

We went from reading, watching videos, answering questions, asking a few questions, learning new vocabulary (actually, vocabulary which they rarely remember), learning about how other people develop creative products or solutions to learning about how to approach projects in a creative way and actually using that inspiration to create something valuable for them.