{Wonder} #12DofD

As educators we are in the wonder business. We wonder if we are doing the right thing for kids, if we are making a difference, what our students go home to and if we’ll ever get to all the paperwork. But more importantly we inspire wonder. As educators we have the chance to give others the tools needed to follow their wonderings and experience the gift of learning.

A sense of wonder transcends the “rose-covered glasses” idiom. It gives birth to unique creations, powerful innovations, and questions that haven’t been asked or haven’t been asked in a certain way. It helps us see every connection as an opportunity to truly get to know someone. To listen to their story and learn alongside of them.

Over these next 12 days and beyond let’s follow those wonderings, encourage others to do the same and make things wonderful. Doing so will inspire generosity beyond the season.

Written by Ben Dickson and Nathan Lang

Will The Real Disruptive Educators Please Stand Up?

Today’s post is by Dr. Sanee Bell, a highly impactful elementary lead learner/principal in Katy, TX. 

hoffer quote

As educators, when we hear the word disruptive, our minds usually reflect on students in the past who have misbehaved in school. The word disruptive often has a negative connotation associated with its use. It is synonymous with words like troublemaking, disturbing, distracting, and unruly. However, the beauty of the English language is that we have multiple meanings for words. When I searched Google for the meaning of disruptive, the search engine returned two meanings:

1.) causing or tending to cause disruption

        “disruptive and delinquent children”

2.) innovative or groundbreaking

       “breaking a disruptive technology into the market is never easy”                  

To frame this post, I want to focus on the second meaning of the word as I define and illustrate the meaning of a disruptive educator.

Disruptors Innovate

Disruptive educators are innovators. They are chasers of the breakthrough, and they are driven by groundbreaking discoveries. They don’t know when the breakthrough may come, but they continue to disrupt the status quo in an effort to innovate. Disruptive educators are committed to radically changing our profession by creating a new way of thinking about how we educate students, and how we grow professionally. They are the early innovators and early adopters who have the courage to explore something new. Simon Sinek references the Law of Diffusion of Innovation in his How Great Leaders Inspire Action TED talk. Disruptive educators fall into the 15.5% of the profession who are either the innovators, or who are the early adopters of the innovations.

Disruptive educators have a drive, a different speed that is driven by a purpose, an attitude, and an unrelenting sense of determination to contribute to a greater good. Being a disruptive educator is a way of life. It is a thought-process and a state-of-being. Disruptive educators need push back to challenge their thinking. In fact, disruptive educators welcome the challenge from those who are not quite sold on their innovative ideas. They need the early and late majority who challenge and question their innovations. It is this questioning and challenging that helps them refine and improve their thinking. If the innovation is real, it will eventually reach the tipping point and become a new way of doing business.

Disruptors Find Their People

Disruptive educators are connected. They are not lone rangers. A lone disruptor may be viewed as a nuisance, a troublemaker, or a radical who others may not take seriously; but a connected disruptor is part of a movement others want to join. Disruptive educators are contributors and collaborators. They seek to disrupt, not for notoriety or fame, but because they see a need and want to make a difference. More often than not, disruptive educators are not self-proclaimed. Others have identified them as disruptors because of their openness and willingness to share. Disruptive educators are committed to making great things happen for students. They understand that BIG things don’t happen with small thinking.

Disruptors Move Beyond the Conversation

Disruptive educators choose to be bothered and challenged by what others believe to be impossible. They have bold dreams and the courage to not only pursue their dreams, but to make their dreams a reality. Disruptive educators are writing a story and acting it out simultaneously. They are key players in the story they are writing, and they live in a state of constant revision. They don’t know how the story will end, but they write the story with such purpose and passion that the journey is worth more than the final destination. They try, they fail and they try again. They are persistent, courageous, and so necessary to our profession. Disruptors not only join the conversation, but they turn the conversation into action.

I am Sanée Bell, and I am a disruptive educator. From one disruptive educator to another, I challenge you to disrupt yourself. Our profession and our students deserve it. So I ask again, will the real disruptive educators please stand up?

For more by Sanee check out her blog



Our guest post today is by Marlena Gross-Taylor, who has served as a teacher, K-12  administrator, and is currently an educational consultant based in Nashville, TN.

“Dreams are today’s answers to tomorrow’s questions.” ~Edgar Cayce

Have you ever been to the movies by yourself?

Until this summer, I had never been to the theater solo, nor ever had a desire to do so.  I took a little road trip to Rocky Top to present at a conference, leaving the family back home.  My initial plans were to relax by the pool, shop a bit and participate in the conference group activities; however at the end of day one I found myself in a small theater excited to see the movie no one else in my family wanted to view – Tomorrowland.  And my world refocused.

“What if there’s a place, a secret place where nothing is impossible? A miraculous place where you could actually change the world.  You wanna go?”

To me, this wonderful, secret place isn’t such a secret.  Isn’t this the purpose of school?  It’s certainly not to take tests; however, since NCLB, high stakes testing has created extensive test preparation in schools significantly impacting instructional time and focus.  As I walked out of the theater, I immediately thought to myself that the shift of education must return whole-heartedly to authentic learning for students and meaningful professional development for teachers and leaders supporting innovation and creativity.

The workforce our students will be entering will consist of jobs that haven’t been created yet.  Businesses are actively seeking candidates whose skill sets are grounded in creativity and problem solving.  Colleges have begun to offer courses in creativity in response to this shift in the job market.  So what can we do in the K-12 realm to prepare our students for the 21st century?  Here are a few strategies to bring innovation back into the classroom.

Project Based Learning (PBL)

Thousands of teachers and school leaders have discovered the benefits of incorporating PBLs in their schools as a more effective way to engage students and deepen the learning experiences of students.  According to the Buck Institute for Education, PBL builds student success for college, career, and life in the 21st century by teaching students to incorporate multiple subject areas in order to solve problems, connecting them to their schools and community in a meaningful way. 

Maker’s Space

Probably the simplest way to reintroduce creativity is underscored in the Maker’s Space movement.  I vividly remember playing with Legos and electronic kits with my brothers for hours working diligently to re-create the images and ideas in my head.  Maker’s Space has revitalized the importance of having students create using various materials and their ingenuity much like my favorite TV character MacGyver

Google Classrooms

Our students are comprised of Gen Zers, which is characterized primarily by never knowing life without technology.  The evolution of technology integration in schools has been a slow one, but today’s students seamlessly integrate technology in every facet of their lives.  Incorporating Google Classrooms and other platforms allows students to simultaneously engage in rigorous discussion, work collaboratively on projects, and instantly access information for deeper understanding. 

As educators we must recommit ourselves to advocating for what is best for students and create learning environments that foster a love for learning and ingenuity.  School is the perfect forum to develop future game-changers and instill the mind-set of perseverance understanding mistakes are just an opportunity for continuous growth.  School must remain a viable experience for students in a modern world.

Visit principalroundtable.com for more great posts.