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Scott is a Wannabe Innovator!

As most of you know, I gave up a full time teaching position in an excellent suburban public school to become a full time PhD student at Oklahoma State University.  It has been quite the journey and I have loved every step of the way.

In some of the reading for a class today, I learned about diffusion of innovation.  Now keep with me for a second, don’t bail out yet…Here it is in a nut shell – when adopting innovation, people fall into the following categories:

  • Innovators – 2.5%: These people drive change.
  • Early Adopters – 13.5%: Willing to try new things.
  • Early Majority – 34%: Thoughtful and willing to change, once advantages are demonstrated.
  • Late Majority – 34%: Skeptical of change and only adopt after the majority have already done so.
  • Traditional Users (Laggards) – 16%: Critical of anything new and will not adopt until the new has become traditional

Here are the questions posed by my professor followed by my response.

Describe an instance of change you’ve experienced as a member of an organization (ex: teacher in a school). What role did you take in the process of change? (That is, did you demonstrate the behavior and/or attitude of an early adopter, a “laggard” or somewhere in between?) How was the change initiated? How did you and others in the organization handle the change? As you reflect, with what you know now, what leadership and management issues and challenges can you identify and discuss?

Here is a big change that was self inflicted and led to a cascading of events that led to me becoming a PhD student: The Flipped Classroom!

How did all of this happen…Well….

I was really impressed when I first came across Khan Academy – I thought this was a great way to make resources available for my students outside of the school day.  A place where they could go to get help when I was not around.  However, I was also thinking – it would be really cool to have my own math videos for my students to watch.  I test drove some software for 30 days (Camtasia, it is amazing) and when the trial was over, I asked my principal if she would sponsor a copy.  This was like a shot of heroin.  The highs I felt when working with Camtasia and creating for my students were awesome.  The ideas bouncing through my head when I wasn’t creating gave me a powerful buzz.  The next year, I flipped my classroom in all three preps that I was assigned: PreAP Algebra 2, PreAP Precalculus, and Calculus.  I chased down resources, I made videos, I started using Edmodo (one of the first people in our district to use this LMS), found SnagIt, and went to my first ISTE conference.  The conference introduced me to Jane Mcgonigal, which led to lots of deep thoughts about gamifying my classroom and an intense desire to have a session or poster at ISTE.  All the while this is happening I was becoming active in Twitter and the things that I could find under the following hashtags: #oklaed, #flipclass, #mathchat, #okmath, #tlap, #edtech, #edtechchat, #gamification, #gbl, #pbl, #sbg, #satchat, and #satchatwc just to name a few.  I have found and participated in more…..these were the influencers.  After the second ISTE conference, where my friend Kristina and I had a poster session, I changed up my Calculus classes to a gamification model.  Then left halfway through the first year of that experiment to become a full time grad student.

To sum up, I have been on one long continuous journey of change over the past four years, looking for ways to best use educational technology in the classroom.  Then as I become more comfortable and willing to try any sort of idea, I started sharing what I did with the world in my blog and in my building.  I would talk to anyone who would listen.  I would share ideas, make lesson suggestions, comment on an app, share a website, collaborate, whatever I could do to make our teachers more comfortable, less fearful of this crazy new thing called educational technology.  Inside of my school, my administration was very supportive.  They encouraged me to explore all of these things, and if I requested money, they wourld help me get the technology or provide an alternative that was less expensive.  I had their support and their trust.

So where do I see myself?  An early adopter.  Flipclass is still in its infacy, the current iteration of flipclass has only been around 8 years or so and I was not in on the ground floor.  Gamification is newer, but I also missed the ground floor in this one as well.  I did not get as much practice application with this concept as I did with the flipped classroom.  However, I think gamification can have massive benefits with today’s students (unprofessional and limited researched opinion).

I would love to be an innovator – to have that idea that makes an impact at all levels of education all over the world.  

As far as leadership with all of this, I do find myself with limited patience for teachers who are laggards with edtech.  This is not some flash in the pan educational philosophy that is doing to disappear in a few years.  The rate of change in our world is growing expoenentially!  We have no idea what careers are going to be available to students who are in 2nd grade.  How do we prepare them for those careers if we, as teachers, do not start exposing them to technology?  Some students only get this exposure at school, and there is evidence that a digital divide is growing.  How do we account for this?  How can we as teachers be satisfied with how we are conducting eduction if we refuse to start incorporating technology?

Lots of passion on this topic for me.  I am not saying everyone needs to have the experiences I had or do the things that I have done.  BUT, as teachers, we need to be willing to step out of our traditional comfort zones and step into reality.  We need to do the best we can to prepare our students for futures that don’t exist yet.

I saw this quote and will end here: If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.


About Scott

My name is Scott. After 18.5 years as a high school math teacher in public education I have made the move to become a full time PhD student. This decisions was difficult, but has been one of the most rewarding things that I have ever done. Teaching in high school was an incredible experience for me, so leaving an environment that I loved for the unknown was a challenge. As I high school teacher, I taught almost every math course that could be offered. I was able to earn National Board Certification in Young Adult Math. I was honored as my building Teacher of the Year, no mean feat at Edmond Memorial High School!! My career changed as I became fascinated with educational technology and all of the things that it can do for teachers. I flipped my class. I used iPads and blogging (in high school math!!). I started using gamification and mastery learning. I changed my practice. I chose to go back to school to learn as much as I could. To bring that knowledge from academia and research to the teacher on the front line. I have had the opportunity to present at several conferences and share what I have learned with others. Its through these connections that we can be the best teachers we can for our students. They deserve it and we sell ourselves short when we don't give it. I love talking with teachers about change. About incorporating educational technology. About the power that they have to change lives. My blog space is me, it shares my passions and frustrations, my joys and my learnings. If you are interested in what I am studying, please visit my graduate school pages. If you are interested in the flipped classroom, I have some links to get your started. I would love to meet you! Do not hesitate to reach out! I would enjoy the opportunity to work with your staff or trade ideas with your teachers - let me know! Have a great day! #BeBrilliant


One thought on “Scott is a Wannabe Innovator!

  1. Another great post – as usual… Another similar quote to the one you ended with: “If you haven’t experienced failure, you haven’t challenged yourself enough!” While considering this post, a number of thoughts came into my consciousness – including:

    1. It’s so important to challenge ourselves / dream big in order to model the ‘outside the box’ approach that our students need to experience to be comfortable with approaching jobs and careers that are as yet undefined. (And by the way, forget the notion of being a second grader; if anyone wishes to remain relevant, it WILL happen post-formal education!)

    2. Not only are jobs evolving and emerging much faster; so are the materials associated with the critical options necessary to optimize approaches. Knowing how to identify, gather, organize, understand, and use new information and skills is growing even more important as a goal of formal education. The experience gained doing any task just a few years prior should provide minimal confidence UNLESS the person with the experience is willing and able to use that experience as at most a starting point for the addressing of the current situation.

    3. College-level educators might appear to have a challenge K-12 educators do not: Though ‘educating’ classes for college-level educator candidates are more numerous, I suspect things are fairly similar to those of my generation (you know, ‘older than dirt’ – so long ago, dirt was clear, not dirty as yet): we began our teaching using the approaches our professors used… But, in this rapidly evolving world we live in, might I suggest that it’s not that dissimilar to K-12 teachers using the approaches their professors introduced in their classes.

    4. All educators must remain a strong assessor of how things are going, reflecting on our findings, developing options new to us if not entirely new to everyone, using them in facilitating the effective learning of all their students – in other words, being a true lifelong learner… In doing so, we are modeling the approach to the uncertain future we know we and our students will face!!!

    Consistent with your post and with my beliefs, we have to be honest and careful in our willingness to not only deepen our experience and knowledge – but also to assess, reflect, revise, broaden, update, and even discard some skills and knowledge – in spite of its prior usefulness. Not only does that impact our efforts, it models success for our students.

    An illustration from history: Erricson was a very innovative engineer. In his search for an alternative to the steam engine (at one point more sailors were killed by exploding steam engines than by all other causes), he developed his ‘Erricson engine’ that had air rather than steam as its working fluid. Too large to use for the power needs of ships, he found an application to pump water in houses, on farms, … With a growing business, things looked positive. But then a fellow named Edison developed electricity and associated motors. Sadly, Erricson halted his innovative thinking and retreated to showcasing his ship with the 12-foot diameter engine cylinders too heavy to haul any paying cargo.

    If you reached this point, thanks for reading…

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by jcbjr9455 | October 14, 2015, 4:48 pm

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