Thursday, January 28, 2010

Inspire to Innovate

As educators we hear two words all the time: inspire and innovate. Two words which separately are powerful, but used together provide a mission. Inspire to innovate.

Inspire has ten definitions, all of which capture different gradations of the same theme: influence. Influence to great thoughts, great acts, great relationships.

Innovate has only two: to introduce something new; make changes in anything established.

As always, we must be cognizant of the balance between innovation for innovation's sake and genuine, 21st century, necessary innovation. Teachers should be fueled by the mission of inspiring to innovate. The means by which we inspire is our craft, and the guidance we provide along the path of innovation will shine a light on that balance for the students.

In this time of exponential change at lightning speed, we need to accept that innovation will be a way to success in our students' world, and shape our influence in a way that sets a foundation for our students to be inspired to great and good acts, great and good thoughts, and great and good relationships.

Calvert's Honor Code, its mission, its philosophy aligns with this goal. Our academic rigor sets the parameters for the great acts, and our Honor Code provides the guidelines for making those great acts good.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Monday Ponderance: Make Yourself Stick

As we begin a new year we are leaving a decade full of change. The pace of that change was exponentially faster than any period in history. One of the defining characteristics of this period has been messaging: Text, IM, Facebook, My Space, Twitter, commercials, previews, OnDemand, Billboard, and on and on and on. All of these are (to borrow a term from Chip and Dan Heath in their book Made To Stick) made to stick - made to shape the way we think about things, ideas, the people and places around us, and ourselves.

As some of us prepare for high school and the rest of us prepare for the near future, one thing we can be certain about is that we will need to know how to create messages that will stick. Particularly, very soon we will be faced with decisions that will shape our ideas about ourselves, and others' ideas about who we are.

It is important that we shape that idea through the right choices.

Our Honor Code provides the content of that message: I am respectful, I am responsible, I am honest, I put forth maximum effort, and I reach out to others. In order to make that idea stick, think about the following methods (again, borrowing from the Heath brothers and their book, Made to Stick)

  1. Pay attention and consider how you can be unexpected or distinct

  2. Be able to understand yourself. Have a concrete idea of who you are and be able to communicate to others.

  3. Believe in yourself and you will be credible to those you interact with.

  4. Care about yourself and others to bring an emotional connection to your relationships. This might be the stickiest of all the methods.

  5. Be able and willing to act on your ideas and values. Be responsible for your own story.

Happy New Year, happy new decade, and happy sticking.