Thursday, January 28, 2016

Ideas vs Implementation

Ideas are great! I love ideas! I have about a million of them a day, and so do you I'm sure. Getting fresh ideas is key to staying current in the classroom. But what happens when an idea just sits in your brain? You never pull it out or attempt to bring it to life. What a loss of a beautiful idea. There are lots of reasons why our ideas don't come to life.

Usually mine have to do with too many other things going on, I didn't have the understanding I needed to do something with the idea, I didn't have the time to develop the idea or...most frequently, I forgot about it. Take the tool Symbaloo for example. Symbaloo is website that allows you to create a "web mix" where you can create one landing page with all of your favorite websites. This is a tool I have heard about for several years. Every time I've seen it at a presentation I think, "Wow, that is a great idea. I'm going to totally use that!". Except I don't use it, I forget about it until the next time I'm enamored by it's total awesomeness and think to myself... I should have tried that years ago. But I didn't have the time right then to figure it out so I just let it slip out in to the abyss of my "maybe some day" pile.

You have one of those too right? That's the problem. We don't take the time to slow down and really implement the idea. That's the thought I'm pondering at the moment. How do we retrain ourselves to stop when we are on overload and process the ideas coming at us so that we can truly implement them.

Take another example, I went to an awesome conference this Fall and I really wanted to try and get one of the ideas up and running. I took ridiculous notes as I listened diligently and brainstormed who I needed to contact to get the ball rolling. I was pumped! And then I came home and life happened and I didn't return to that very awesome idea or list of next steps. I would argue that these lost ideas are still floating somewhere within you, so what would happen if you pulled out a few. Did you go to a great conference 2 years ago-go find your notes and pick 1 thing. See, that's the part that is missing, narrowing down all the great things we learn to 1 or 2 meaningful, connected ideas.

In the course I teach, Foundations of Innovation, we learn about why schools need to rethink the work they have been doing. Notice, I didn't say throw it out, I'm simply suggesting we rethink and redesign what we are doing. After studying why this work is critical to preparing students for their futures, we begin to create something we call the "I Commit" list. As we work through the 12 hour class, we stop at each section and I challenge them to pick 1 or 2 things they realistically can commit to doing. Then we write it down in words and pictures in our design journal. What comes next is critical to making your "I Commit" list one less post it in your "some day" pile. As the facilitator for the course, I begin every session by asking, who has an update on their "I Commit" list. I send out emails that start, "Hey Innovators" and always mention their "I Commit" list. Now to be fair, as I type this I'm thinking, I really should have sent an email out remind these amazing teachers to check their list. So the truth is, no one is perfect at this.

But that's why we need each other. So here is my challenge to you, spark your creativity today! Go do it right now. Head to Pinterest, Twitter or Instagram. Search for websites and blogs of teachers at your grade level. Make the choice to take a few minutes to spark your creativity, then choose 1 or 2 and NO MORE than that. Write it in a notebook and use sketches and words to bring the idea to life. And tomorrow, when you wake up, make it happen captain!

You see, it's up to us to take these great ideas floating in our heads and implement them. An idea is just that, a static thought...until you breath life into it.