Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes

By AJ Juliani, No comments

I had to share this story.

Last week I had the opportunity to take a group of students from our High School to the Franklin Institute. It was the first “road trip” for our Student Innovation Lab. About 20 students and five teachers/leaders made the trip where we learned about how the brain works, and why empathy is so important to any meaningful change process.

Our Student Innovation Lab gets kids from all walks of life together to solve real, meaningful problems at our school, going through the design thinking process and getting opportunities like this one (at Franklin Institute, at UPenn, at Google NY, and other spaces like RecPhilly) to meet with experts and mentors in the field.

At lunch, we had a group of students who were still a bit hesitant on the whole process. One student said, “People are always trying to change, but nothing ever really changes.”

I watched the conversation continue as the Chief Bioscientist and Chief Astronomer from the Franklin Institute sat down to have lunch with our students. The table became quiet. After introductions I pointed back to the conversation we had earlier about change and the Chief Bioscientist asked our students, “Why do you think change is so hard?”

One of our kids piped up. “It just seems like nothing changes if nothing changes. Lots of people talk about changing something, or solving a problem, but most people won’t do the work.”

She smiled.

So did I.

Then she acknowledged our kids for taking a risk being here and working towards finding solutions to some of the biggest problems at our school. She said, “One thing you’ll notice when trying to solve big problems is that we often try to do old things in new ways. For years we tried to improve travel by making better horse shoes, or better carriages, or better wheels for those carriages. Then someone has the idea that we don’t need horses. We can use a machine to get us from place to place. That’s a new thing in a new way. But even the car is not as revolutionary as a plane. People could imagine a car perhaps, they definitely could not imagine a plane. Flying was impossible until someone went out there and made it possible.”

The conversation continued as our students got to talk shop with these amazing professionals for over an hour. But, that line stuck with me. Are we trying to do old things in new ways, or are we looking to do new things in new ways?

The Innovative Teaching Academy is open for enrollment until October 8th. I believe this academy is focused on doing new things in new ways. It is a six month program that connects you with innovative teachers, leaders, and coaches from around the country and world. It’s go at your own pace, but supported throughout the process. Our goal is to make learning better, but to also make the learning experience new and different. You can see from the testimonials that this was a paradigm shifting experience, and I’m hoping to do new things in new ways with each of you.

That being said, it’s feedback like this one that show the power of what we can do as educators in the changes we make:

Thanks so much for doing this. I have to admit that I wasn’t sure I would get anything out of this or if this was just another PD that really didn’t do anything. Throughout this summer, I have been pleasantly surprised! I have found myself challenging myself and my teaching all summer and as this school year started. I have heard through various parents that they are very excited about what is going on in my room this year. Thanks so much for all that you have done!

-Eileen Akroush

And now, if you join the Innovative Teaching Academy (at any level) I’ll also send you a FREE copy of my new book, Intentional Innovation: How to Guide Risk-Taking, Build Creative Capacity, and Lead Change!

Intentional InnovationThis bonus comes at the perfect time as the book was just released by Routledge and Eye on Education.

In this new book you’ll learn a clear process to guide-risk taking and lead change so you can be intentional about innovation in your classroom, school, and life. I show why we need intentional innovation and how to implement it effectively using the PLASMA framework:

  • What to Praise, Look For, and Assess
  • Support What is Different
  • Make Time for Creative Work
  • Allow for the New and Unknown

You’ll also gain insights on celebrating failing and learning, creating conditions for creativity, and leading the change. Whether you are a technology and innovation coach, a teacher, or an administrator, Intentional Innovation will motivate you to take risks, be up-to-date on the latest research, and manage strong working relationships designed to help students succeed beyond school doors. It’s not just about technology for change but about fostering relationships to motivate, inspire, and challenge us to step out and lead in a future that is exciting and unknown.

Let’s do new things in new ways and solve problems together!

Join the Innovative Teaching Academy between now and October 8th (when enrollment closes) and also get my new book as a bonus.

Remember, nothing changes if nothing changes!

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