Don Wettrick joins Justin Baeder to discuss his book Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level.
Interview Notes, Resources, & Links
- Get the book Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level
- Creative Confidence by Tom Kelley
- inGenius by Tina Seelig
- Linchpin by Seth Godin
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- Drive by Dan Pink
- Download Seth Godin’s pdf “Stop Stealing Dreams”
About Don Wettrick
Don Wettrick is an Innovation Coordinator at Noblesville High School, just outside Indianapolis, IN. Wettrick has worked as a middle school and high school teacher; educational and innovation consultant; and educational speaker. Don is passionate about helping students find their educational opportunities and providing them with the digital tools they need to give them a competitive edge. Don has lectured across the US and Europe about collaboration, social media use, and work environments that enable innovation. He also hosts an internet radio program, InnovatED, for the BAM! Radio Network. Most importantly Don works with educators and students to bring innovation and collaborative skills into education. Don lives in Greenwood, IN with his wife, Alicia, and three children: Ava, Anna, and Grant. You can find him on Twitter @donwettrick where he tweets updates on his student's innovation work.
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Justin Baeder: [0:13] Welcome everyone to Principal Center Radio. I am Justin Baeder and my guest today is Don Wettrick. Don is innovation coordinator at Noblesville High School and the author of Pure Genius, Building a Culture of Innovation, and Taking 20 Percent Time to the Next Level.
Announcer: [0:32] And now, our feature presentation.
Justin: [0:34] Don, welcome to Principal Center Radio.
Don Wettrick: [0:35] Thanks for having me on, Justin.
Justin: [0:36] Tell us a little bit about your path as an educator and how the idea of 20 percent time came into your world.
Don: [0:45] I was in the business world for the first two or three years out of college and I caught the bug. I promised myself I wouldn’t be in education because everybody else in my family was, including my sister.
[0:57] I would go to bed at night not liking what I was doing because I saw the influence my dad had on people and my sister was enjoying her life. I always remember that moment where I told my dad and mom who they paid for every cent of my education.
[1:12] I was going to go back and get my teaching license. I always remember this. My dad took a long pause and it reminds you, he paid for cent of my education. He says, “You know, Don, I don’t care if you go on to teach for the next 20 years. Please don’t teach one year 20 times.”
[1:29] That got me started and it always has left an impact on me. I don’t want the same thing to happen year after year so this is year 18 of my career and how I got here to the innovation coordinator, it’s odd.
[1:47] I taught middle school English. I then taught broadcasting and documentary film making as well as English. Then, I remember the moment and I remember where I was sitting. I had a friend of mine email me and said, “Have you seen the Daniel Dev Ted Talk?”
[2:04] This is where a lot of 20 Percent Time Genius Hour people are probably nodding their head and laughing because everybody had this moment where we listen to Dan you’ve went, “I could do that in school”.
[2:14] That’s exactly what we did. I went and literally, the next day, I showed it to my class and them say, what do you think? What do you think of this concept?
[2:25] You know, things were throwing out like, “Yeah, finally a class I get to enjoy.” or “Yeah, about time we get to do stuff we really wanted to do.”
[2:33] I decided then and there and it didn’t really have a name yet, Genius Hour, 20 Percent Time. 20 Percent had been taken, but in the ad circles, we gave it a go.
[2:43] So, the next week, I opened up this time and space for everybody to learn what they’re passionate about. Then I quickly learned that a lot of educators…myself included…have done a really good job of training students to wait for instructions.
[3:02] When the instructions are, “Hey! Let’s find things that you’re passionate about and lets work around that,” that’s out of their realm. It was a rocky start, that’s for sure, and that’s what inspired me to write the book. I didn’t give up on it. It’s been a long and winding road, that’s for sure.
[3:21] Now more than ever we’re starting to look at our economy. We’re starting to look at the jobs that aren’t even created yet…and we know what they aren’t…
[3:32] That all of a sudden, innovation and creativity and design thinking in some ways are starting to be looked at and taken a little bit more seriously. It’s a great time to be a student, and it’s a great time to start looking at innovation.
Justin: [3:45] Let’s talk about some defining characteristics and parameters on the 20 Percent Time idea, which comes from Google. Is that right? They have a day a week set aside for their employees to work on passion projects…
Don: [3:57] Yeah. Quoting Dan Pink’s talk…Ed Lassien was one of the first to start it…yeah Google was notoriously probably the most popular example where, yes, they gave you one day a week to work on projects that you deemed necessary.
[4:10] Then you had to glean or precious data on what your findings were. That’s absolutely what a lot of 20 Percent Time people do.
Justin: [4:20] We’ve seen some tremendous innovations. If I recall correctly, even Gmail was one of those projects. Wasn’t it?
Don: [4:27] Absolutely. Yeah. Among a lot of other things, yes.
Justin: [4:30] Within a class period, or within a secondary subject area, do you put any parameters on that? Do you say, “All right, this is a high school history class or this is a high school English class.
[4:42] So 80 percent of the time we’re going to focus on the curriculum and the other 20 percent of the time you get to pursue something that you’re interested related to this subject.” Or is it more open than that?
Don: [4:52] I’ll answer that in two different ways. Genius Hour: 20 Percent Time model, yes. That is usually the case. I, however, struck gold in the sense that I asked my superintendent and principal four years back, “Hey. Could I make this its own class?”
[5:11] They chuckled and they said, “I don’t see a Daniel Pink course description in the state approved catalog.” Undeterred, I looked for course catalog descriptions that were vague. I’m not saying this in a mean way, but I wanted to look for a loophole.
[5:31] And our first innovation in innovations classes, I found a course description that was called “Group Discussions.” In the description, students gather data, formulate opinions, and have dialogue in a group setting, and I’m like, “You know what? That works.”
[5:49] I do a fair amount of going around and talking about these things, and that’s always the first question. Hands go up. “How in the heck did you get this class approved?”
[5:59] It’s funny, because I more or less said, “Can I do this?” and they took a chance, and I’m really grateful that they did. It’s obviously more than group discussions, but that’s how we got started. The basic parameters of my class are, if you had that 20 percent time every day of the week.
[6:17] Now, here’s where it gets confusing to some people, because they’re like, “What do you do? Sit around and wait for inspiration?” Essentially, the way my class is structured is that, like a lot of PBL work, we normally have a driving question, but it doesn’t have to be in my area of expertise.
[6:37] I taught English and TV Broadcasting. Most of my projects don’t have any of those things. Sometimes they do, but my students look at things that they have an interest in.
[6:49] I wrote not too long ago, “Does school get in the way of learning?” Essentially, if my student really wanted to learn something, and they had a project they wanted to work on, that’s the class for them.
[6:59] This is the place to do it. They start off with a driving question. They write a proposal. A lot of times a good project is anywhere between three to five weeks. In their proposal they tell me what they’re going to do. They have to look for outside collaborators. This is, a key element.
[7:17] When we look for mentors, we find some of the best people out there, a lot of times through social media, LinkedIn, Twitter, things of that nature. They get firm commitments from these people, and then they tell me when they’re going to collaborate them, what their project is going to look like.
[7:32] I have them do research on the Common Core Standards, and they tell me what standards they think they’re going to master through this project. Then they go through a proposal period where I look at it, they have a pitch day, much like a TED Talk.
[7:47] The students themselves, we get together, we try to help brainstorm to them potential problems they may have, and then once that’s all over I either give it a thumbs up or thumbs down. If I give it a thumbs up, I hold them to their calendar.
[8:01] They tell me it’s going to take five weeks, I give them some wiggle room, but it normally does. From there, a lot of times on Monday we get together and brainstorm, but Tuesday through Friday they’re collaborating with, they’re working on their own projects.
[8:18] Then by the time it’s done, and this is what I really like about this, they self assess. In their proposal they tell me how many points it’s probably going to be worth, because I do have a rubric, but I also have a minimum amount of points you need for an A, B, C, D at the end of the semester.
[8:34] At the end of the project, they say, “I deserve 20 points, 30 points, 40,” whatever. Then they substantiate it to me based on the standards they mastered, the people they’ve collaborated with, the takeaways they’ve had.
[8:48] I found this to be a more authentic assessment than anything I’ve ever had before. When a student tells me, “I deserve 40 points for this,” and I go, “No, you deserve a 20,” if they argue, and clearly lay out the reasons why, that is way more authentic than me subjectively saying, “20 points.”
[9:08] I love that aspect of it. The other takeaway I’ve loved so far is that these people they’re working with are not only great people in their areas, but they’re potential job leads later on.
[9:26] They’re collaborators that they can work with for who knows how long. It’s been a really, really fun journey to work with some of these collaborators all over the world.
Justin: [9:35] Don, can you describe for us a little bit the structure of your innovation class, because it sounds like the thing that has a lot of potential to be really engaging, but if the right structures aren’t in place it also sounds like it could be chaotic.
[9:51] What did you do to set up your class so that students do learn, and innovate, and get a lot done, and what does that look like?
Don: [9:59] I’m so glad you asked that question, because I talk to a lot of teachers out there. They try Genius Hour, 20 percent time for a little bit, and then they’re really frustrated. A couple of things, I talked about the fact that we’ve trained our students to be subservient in lesson.
[10:17] And when you give them choice and some freedom it’s hard for them to take. The other thing is some of the perimeters, and by all means, I learned it the hard way the first couple of years myself but that when you have them grow their own digital brand, they’re not just wanting to…
[10:35] I mean if they disappoint their teacher, that’s one thing. But when they start to blog, and I have them blog every Friday on some of their findings, they start building an audience.
[10:45] So if they start mailing and not doing that well, OK, you’re going to get a bad grade from Mr. Wettrick, OK they can deal with that. But they start hearing back from people, “Hey, what happen to your research on… this? What happen to that connection that you’re supposed to make this week?”
[10:59] And that’s a really nice piece because they start taking it seriously. By the way, this is also a great way to teach digital citizenship. You know our students are really engaged online and they’re very, very active on Twitter and you’ll never.
[11:14] And quote me on this “You will never find a Don Wettrick innovation student making a fool of him or herself on Twitter”, because they’re collaborating with some of the best people out there.
[11:26] And talk about comparative advantage they have, while some other students are making really bad decisions online and taking selfies and things that are questionable, my students are wanting to connect with some of the nations’ best minds.
[11:43] And with all these, with all the structure we have and try to connect with people, that’s a way to inspire to do better. But I will say, when you do open up a little bit of freedom and provide this for a class, it’s going to be bumpy at first.
[12:03] There is freak out point where it’s a lot easier to be told what to do, than it is to say “Hey, I’m going to give you a week or so to find out something that you want to learn or that you’re passionate about.”
[12:15] And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had students in tears and both saying “I don’t know what I’m passionate about and I don’t know what I want to learn”, we get through that but that’s also hitting on a greater problem.
[12:29] When students really don’t know what they want to do, or what they’re passionate about or even having an incline in what they want to learn, we have to have a serious discussion because when these kids get out of college, it’s not like they’re going to await instructions.
[12:44] You know get out there, and sees life as opposed to “OK, I’m now going to wait for somebody tell me what job I have” No, no, no. That doesn’t really happen anymore. So that’s also why this structure, this structure classes are vital.
Justin: [12:58] And I really appreciate the emphasis on both student choices, students are forced to think about and choose based on what their passionate about, but also you asked your students to link their choices to the common course standard.
[13:12] So it’s almost the opposite of a goof off class, which from the description, you know, it could go that way if it’s not run the right way but you’ve taken a very purposeful approach in linking what students are doing, or requiring students to link what their doing to the standards.
[13:29] And making meaningful connections to outside experts and having a public audience so that their work is something that their proud of, something their accountable for and something that builds skills that transfer into their work as adults.
Don: [13:42] The first year went smooth, the second year was a little bit dicey er, the 30 years has been in fourth superior, but it wasn’t perfect. I’ve got to this point because we’ve crafted it. There were some students that treated it like a study hall.
[13:59] There were some students that… the semis kids had 4.0 GPAs and they were telling me “Just tell me to write an essay, I’ll do a good job” because they froze. I’ve since learned how to start the class, when I set them free on day one.
[14:23] Some of these students that were really passionate, had these really great big huge audacious goals, and I never realized it, a really great project should start of with a two or three weeks in data collection.
[14:38] You know with these abilities study, to find out whether you really can do it, you know what they wanted to bring some change into the school, that’s great.
[14:45] Can it be done, how much red tape is involved? You know case and point, I had a student, she has fantastic goal. She was a really good athlete, has scholarship opportunities everywhere, little brother had pretty severe down syndrome.
[14:59] She’s all an inspirational piece on real sports, Brian Cumbel and it was on the miracle league. How there were some leagues out there for handicaps and disabled athletes and she’s like “I wanna start that in our town”. That’s a great idea but as she kept getting further into it.
[15:19] She didn’t know that she had to have, a legal counsel, that she had to have waivers, she had to find a field that they would agree to do this. Cause you’d have to find, you know, sponsorship, she’d had to have the blessings of the family.
[15:31] The support of the family, and she kept getting deeper and deeper, and all she really wanted to do, was to host a couple of soft ball games for the kids and about that…
[15:42] It was past Christmas, she’d worked on this half year and she realized this was never going to get off the ground in a years’ time. Then finally she’s like, “You know what? I’m going to host something here at the school, instead of starting an entire organization” and you know what? That should’ve been the first step. So that’s why on the first six weeks of our innovation class, we go through creativity, exercises, we go through innovation exercises, we watch tad talks.
[16:08] But we also learn how to effectively start a project first, feasibility, working backwards, talking to your end users, getting data collections, do observing, you know, classic D school stuff that I’ve learned better.
[16:24] So I will hold at mid, my first two… at least two years were successful but each year it gets a little bit better. And quite frankly, and this is my shameless plug, that’s also…
[16:36] Why I also wrote the book. Got the book out, appeared genius already talked about it, building a culture of innovation. I wanted to be candid about what we did but then also, gleam our mistakes and show where we went wrong and how to do it better.
[16:54] Because I’m really, really, really hoping that my students can showcase how this can be accomplished. They’re on display here and I’m really proud of them, but I want to include some of the mistakes as well as their successes.
Justin: [17:09] And Don, one of the most critical things that you’ve did in the process was to force students to really think deeply about what they’re passionate about.
[17:19] And to think about what they want to do about that because that’s essentially the same choice they’re facing as young adults when trying to decide on a career and you’re absolutely right, so many people go through college with the major that their supposed to have.
[17:35] And get the job that their supposed to get after majoring the thing that their supposed to major in, and to get into the workforce, to get into the real world and think “What am I doing here? Why am I doing this?
[17:47] This isn’t what I wanted” and when we do such a good job of teaching students to be compliant, that’s a side effect that we really have to take ownership of and Seth Godin had a book out a couple years ago called “Stop Stealing Dreams.”
[18:02] He is a little hard on educators for teaching students to be compliant, because certainly there are valuable aspects to teaching students compliance.
[18:13] But we don’t want to do that at the expense of teaching students to think for themselves, to care about what matters most to them and to pursue those passions with some vigor.
[18:23] That’s a huge life lesson that you’ve gifted your students with, to throw them into that struggle and force them to ask themselves, “What really matters to me? What do I want to make a difference in?”
Don: [18:36] It’s funny you mention Seth Godin. A lot of times, I find a lot of inspiration and ideas from the Seth Godin’s of the world. Dan Pink. I was going to quote “Lean Startup.”
[18:48] In finding your passion, I expect you to fail early and often. I reward failure in here or at least I tolerate it, because if you’re going to tell me you want to do a seven week project and your first project is to do a two week study on whether it’s really going to go or not, that’s worth it.
[19:09] Some people, like, “Oh, my gosh. You wasted your time.” No, you didn’t. You spent two weeks realizing that it’s not going to work as opposed to nine weeks. That’s awesome! I wish I would have had my internship earlier in my college career, because I realized I didn’t like it.
[19:27] I don’t want to scare people off and say, “Hey, we love failure at the innovation class.” Because people look at you like you’re crazy, but we do.
[19:36] One of my favorite Disney films ever was “Meet the Robinsons.” Whenever they fail, they’re like, “Yay! That’s awesome! You know what not to do next time.” That’s exactly the approach we take.
[19:49] “Hey, I’m going to do this…” One of my students said, “Hey, I want to start a Spanish class at our elementary.”
[19:56] I didn’t want to tell him that there’s no way possible, so after a couple days, he’s like, “Oh, so I talked to some people. I didn’t realize that I can’t make administration decisions because I don’t pay the teachers.”
[20:09] I was like, “Yeah, I knew that, but I wanted you to figure it out.” That’s a great idea. Hey, I want there to be an opportunity for kids to learn how to speak Spanish in grade two.
[20:18] Oh, who doesn’t? But guess what? You don’t have the decisions to make to hire another teacher, so I loved his passion and he found out that he can’t do that. But what might he do? He might be able to see if there are some people that want to volunteer time and do it as a club. Things like that.
[20:34] All these books we’re talking about. “Lynchpin” or “Lean Startup” or “Drive” and all these things. I encourage a lot of teachers. Man, there are so many ideas and there’s so many fresh takes you can get from people that are professional marketers. And as people that truly think on the innovative side.
[20:52] And if I could also add I’m a big fan of Tina Seelig from Stanford’s D School and also an innovation leader. She’s got a book out, “Ingenious.” Honestly, our class, they’re on our Mount Rushmore.
[21:06] We think that the Kelley brothers are about the coolest thing. They run IDEO. Tom and David Kelley, anything you want to pick up. That “Creative Confidence” is a somewhat new book. Highly encourage teachers to read that as well.
[21:19] I get more inspiration out of that than I do the traditional stuff that I still enjoy reading, but it’s really great to get a fresh perspective out there other than from educators.
Justin: [21:30] So Don, one thing people may be wondering is if I’ve already got a packed syllabus. If I have a subject and a set of standards that I need to cover in the course of a year and time is already tight, how can I fit “Genius Hour” into that?
[21:47] How can I make a full fifth of my class time available for students to pursue their passions and still get everything done that we need to? What does that look like in a typical subject area?
Don: [21:59] Taking a fresh innovative approach is always a good idea. Any subject you have, you can have your students connect outside your class.
[22:06] People talk about the flip classroom. You totally flip your classroom. You might have your students research some of the ways they can improve. They find experts that might help them in their area of study.
[22:20] If you’re a math teacher, you might look for some sources of inspiration out there that you can tie in to the class. That’s why I’m a really, really big fan of teachers connecting online and finding these people.
[22:31] You have some of the students do what I was talking about on the self assessment. Of course, you’re going to have to cover tests and some of the traditional things, but when you say, “Hey, side project within this area that we’re studying, let’s find ways to construct this.
[22:49] Let’s find ways to express our learning other than a Scantron.” I say all these all things and really, let’s also get to the heart of the matter. I hope that you have a supportive administration. This is always the hard part of the conversation.
[23:05] I get people that I talk to and they’re really nice and they want to do this. And they said, “But my administration doesn’t believe in this. My administration thinks that the be all, end all is what they get on their state assessments,” in which case, that’s a tough go.
[23:22] But I do think that there’s something OK with sometimes not asking for permission, but going forth and trying out some project based learning and trying out having your students find some great mentors and collaborators.
[23:38] I have a feeling that even some of the toughest administrators out there when they see results, when they see your students working with really helpful, transformative mentors, I doubt if they’re going to say, “Hey, that’s bad. That’s wrong.”
[23:54] I don’t want to get anybody fired out there, but sometimes it’s worth the risk and you should try it.
Justin: [24:00] There are lots of different ways to frame something like that. If the first words out of your mouth are, “Hey, I’m not going to teach on Fridays any more, because we’re doing ‘Genius Hour.”
[24:09] That’s going to get a different reception than, “Hey, we’re doing these projects that connect students with experts and with real audiences and allow them to solve real problems. Here’s how it’s gone so far.
[24:22] That’s a terrific starting point and that’s what you’ve provided in the book, isn’t it? A working model and examples from your classroom?
Don: [24:30] Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. For that matter, I wholeheartedly believe this. If your passion and your excitement, enthusiasm spills over I’ve seen a lot more yes’s than no’s. It’s worth a try.
[24:48] Yeah, in my book I talk a lot about how you can start this. I also go into how you train your students to… one of the things I didn’t mention is how you train your students to find their own opportunities.
[25:03] Again, we talked about subservient students sitting and waiting for me to say something. It’s not about me. It’s about you actively seizing on your opportunities. That’s the thing that I love, is that all of a sudden this moment of realization on my students’ face. “Oh, my gosh. I can do this!”
[25:20] When they are out there scanning, whether it would be on Stumble Upon or going and finding key sources of inspiration, “Fast Company” magazine, “Wired,” whatever. All of a sudden they’re like, “I can tie…” It’s what Tina Seelig at Stanford calls “collecting and connecting.”
[25:37] They collect all these ideas and sources of inspiration, and they connect them together. When they’re out there seeking their own opportunities, they know how to bring the value to the class.
[25:47] “Hey, I’ve got to learn this math concept. I know a lot better way to go about this than you’ve ever thought of.” As the teacher, I have to swallow my pride and go, “Wow, I never thought of that.
[25:58] You’re right.” But that’s OK. Let go. It’s not top down anymore. It’s grass roots if you enable them and you empower them to help dictate some of their own education, good things happen.
[26:11] But don’t give up right away when it doesn’t happen overnight. We have trained our students to wait for instructions. It will happen. You got to get there. Have patience.
Justin: [26:22] Don, if you had your way, and you could get administrators to all do a certain thing to advance this idea of “Genius Hour” or 20 percent time, what would you have school administrators do?
[26:37] That’s our audience at “Principal Center Radio,” so speaking directly to administrators, what would you like administrators to do?
Don: [26:45] Do a hashtag search. Look at the examples out there. Yeah, I’m going to throw out some names. Joy Kerr chief among them. There’s a guy I haven’t connected with, but I see some of his stuff, Kevin Brookhouser. There’s people, A.J. Juliani.
[27:02] There’s a lot of people out there that are championing this cause. You know what? Better yet, follow me on Twitter. I don’t mean that in a self serving way, because most of my tweets are about my students, especially now that pitch day is coming up soon.
[27:18] My students are going to start really rolling out their projects. Take a look at what my students do.
[27:23] They know to use the hashtags hash GeniusHour and hash 20percenttime, even though that’s technically not our class. Take a look at what’s out there.
[27:30] If you want to model some of your school to transform and really want to be the best, I really think that some of these schools that are allowing the opportunity and taking a chance, they’re showing what they can do.
[27:46] That’s where I’m really blessed. I’m at Noblesville High School, outside of Indianiapolis. The school wants to be relevant nationally. They realize it’s nice that moms and dads and aunts and uncles think that we’re doing a good job in the school.
[27:59] But it’s even better when we can showcase what we’re doing here. And really relax the fears of some administrators saying, “Oh, can bad things happen if you do this?” Sure, they can.
[28:09] Eric Sheninger was the guy as a principal has said, “Get out your phones and put on Twitter what you’re doing at school today.”
[28:16] I’m sure there was administrators everywhere looking at him like his hair was on fire. Like, “What?” “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I trust you. I trust you. Get out Twitter. Let me know what you’re doing in class. Be transparent.” That’s my last point that I am so passionate about.
[28:32] Transparency is everything. You want to know what’s going on in my class? I update everything on my YouTube account. We have an NHS Innovations page on YouTube. Every week we give updates. What we did wrong. What we did right. What some of the projects are going to be this year.
[28:49] It eases fears. Parents know what we’re doing. Other schools might be inspired. Of course, we also might be scaring people away when I’m candid about our mistakes. Maybe that makes people go, “Ah ha! I told you.”
Justin: [29:03] The book is “Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20 Percent Time to the Next Level.” Don, thanks so much for sharing what’s worked so well in your classroom after lots of trial and error.
[29:16] And lots of bumps in the road to figure out what we can do as educators to unlock those opportunities for student to pursue what they’re passionate about and solve real world problems.
Don: [29:28] Thank you for having me on. Side note, if anybody wants to get a hold of me, you can always email me with any questions or any help you need. [email protected] or I’m on Twitter all the time at DonWettrick.
Justin: [29:47] High performance instructional leaders. What did you take away from my interview with Don? One thing I hope that we can all commit to after hearing Don’s story of trying things and iterating and struggling and realizing that things weren’t working as well as he had hoped the first time.
[30:04] Then hearing how he persevered through that and tried some more things and really saw his career as an 18 year veteran educator not as one year of teaching repeated 18 times, but as a continual learning process.
[30:18] I hope that gives us some confidence in the ability of our teachers to experiment and to innovate. Too often, we make decisions that are driven by fear, that are driven by a desire to make sure that all the bases are covered and that’s rational for people in our position.
[30:35] We’re responsible for insuring that the right things take place. And an unfortunate side effect of that pursuit of responsibility on our part is that too often, we say no to too many things. We want to ensure that the right things happen and we go overboard in ensuring that other things don’t happen.
[30:54] Things like experimentation, things like using time in unconventional ways that we think might be wasteful but they could also be incredibly productive and incredibly rewarding.
[31:04] I hope you’ve been inspired by the success of Don’s students and we’ll share some examples on the show page on our website at principalcenter.com or you can see what Don’s students are up to.
[31:17] If you’re interested in bringing this idea to your school, get the book, take a look at how it’s worked for Don, but don’t try it with all of your teachers at once.
[31:26] One thing I really want to implore you to do is find the right people who are passionate about this, who are willing to experiment, not afraid to try new things, and excited about sharing what they learned from that process.
[31:38] One more thing I took away from my talk with Don was the importance of reading outside of education and Don and I have both recently read the book The Lean Start up which is a terrific book on how to innovate using short iterative cycles.
[31:53] I learned a ton from books from the business world, from the software world, from psychology. All kinds of different fields have a tremendous amount to do with the complex work that we do working with students and teachers every day, so read widely.
[32:09] Don’t be afraid to take risks and when you have staff members who want to try something new, say yes, give them the support they need and see what happens. [background music]
Announcer: [32:20] Thanks for listening to Principal Center Radio. For more great episodes, subscribe on our website at principalcenter.com/radio.