Please excuse any typos – Notes were taken via voice note.

Innovator’s Mindset

Book Notes



  • If we don’t spend time letting people innovate during school hours we are implying it isn’t important. Pg 5
  • Innovating at the speed of trust.  They must see us doing it.  And they need to know we will support them if they fail.  Pg 7
  • We must create an organization of learners.  Listeners not tellers.
    • Be both teachers and learners
  • Not willing to sacrifice collaborators, critical thinkers, creators, etc. for good test takers. Pg 9
  • Relationships are at the crux of everything we do.
  • Change can be hard and seemingly insurmountable, but remember change is the opportunity to do something amazing, pg 10


Pat I – Innovation in Education

Chapter 1 – What innovation is and isn’t

  • “Change almost never fails because it is too early.  It almost always fails because it comes too late.” ~Seth Godin
  • Their district started by creating a brand new position. Pg 17
    • Chris thought- how can we truly move forward if we have one foot in both the innovation and antiquated testing system?
  • Have schools forgotten their why? page 18
    • Everyone should read this and figure out where we go as a district and community
  • Innovation is creating something new and better –  Pages 18, 19 and 20
    • it can be invention or iteration
    • a way of thinking
    • It is not synonymous with technology
      • technology can be crucial to the development of innovation but it is not innovation itself
    • We must create a culture around this way of thinking
      • and leaders whose support those who think that way
  • It starts with the question:  what is best for the learner
    • powerful question:  in our world today what are the student more likely going to need to be able to write an essay or a blog post?  Page 20
      • This isn’t another or question but a good one to think about as we prepare kids for the future
      • embed a video or learn how to cite?
  • Graphic on page 23 the authors iteration Page 24
  • Different doesn’t mean innovative
    • if different create change and growth then yes it is innovative
    • and we  must keep in mind what is best for students


Chapter 2:  The Innovator’s Mindset

    • The quote to start the chapter:  we need to move beyond the idea that an education is something that is provided for us and toward the idea that an education is something that we create for ourselves
    • Growth mindset vs. fixed  mindset
    • innovator’s mindset- the belief that the abilities intelligence and talents are developed so that they lead to the creation of new and better ideas.  page 33
      • Every teacher should adopt an innovator’s mindset.
        • same with Administration Page 35
    • Thomas Friedman quote:  the world only cares about and pays off on what you can do with what you know and it doesn’t care how well you’ve learned it.  page 34
    • What part of failure do we embrace?
      • It’s important to not just acknowledge that we failed the to have the resiliency and Grit 2 move forward and improve page 37
      • Understand that failure happen, but not accepting it as a final result
    • Critical questions for the Innovative educator – page of 39 and 40
      • what I want to be a learner in my own classroom?
      • what is best for the student?
      • What is the student’s passion?
      • What are some ways we can create a true learning community?
      • How did this work for our students?
        • How do I collect feedback that is genuine to know if what we are doing is working?


  • The innovator’s mindset starts with empathy for students but equally important is the desire to create something better



Chapter 3 – Characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset

  • Chapter starts with the story on mitosis in 60 Seconds
  • Effective leadership in education is not about moving everyone from 1 standardized point two the next but moving individuals from their point A to point B – Page 47
    • Lead with empathy by meeting people where they are and help then find or create Solutions that work for them
  • The 8 characteristics of an innovator’s mindset –  page 48 with graphic
    • Empathetic
      • would you want to be a Learner in your own classroom?
      • Put yourself in the students shoes
    • Problem solvers problem Finders
      • We must emphasize how to find problem not just how to solve them. page 50
      • Teaching students by example to be self-starters into continuously evaluate how they might improve their education helps them learn how to effectively learn.
    • Risk Takers
      • In order to change evolve and innovate there will always be a level of risk.
      • we must get comfortable with that risk
    • Networked
      • You have to provide opportunity for ideas to  clarify, spread and grow
      • Isolation is often the enemy of innovation
    • Observant
      • Always be on the lookout for ideas to connect into your classroom. Ideas from in and outside the education Innovation field.
      • ask yourself if that idea war strategy could apply to education
    • Creators
      • Having students become creators makes a personal connection to the information
      • Consider how much deeper the learning could be of creation was a non-negotiable and learning for both us and the students
    • Resilient
      • Innovators must be resilient the pushback they receive from their peers and from there students who have learned to play school in the traditional manner
      • right you push the edges of the norm with your innovative ideas hold onto your conviction and passion. If you don’t believe in your idea why would anyone else?
    • Reflective
      • questioning our efforts progress and processes is crucial to innovation
      • what worked? What didn’t? What would I change? What questions do I have moving forward?
      • Instead of drop everything and read day what about a drop everything and reflect time
  • Leading with an innovator’s mindset causes the students to follow suit in your classroom Page 59
  • as a principal I need to ask myself what I want to be in the community where I am the principal?  page 59
    • Leaders would more easily affect change if they allow others to see them taking risks, failing recovering and risking all over again.
  • the Mantra of an Innovative educator on paste 60


Part II: Laying the Groundwork

Chapter 4: Relationships relationships relationships

  • Important quote from Stephen Covey on page 69 about the speed of trust
    • as leaders in education our job is not to control Those whom we serve but to unleash their talent and that is best done through a culture of trust
  • The 3 questions to ask myself as a leader on page 69
  • The story of Matt Gomez and his kindergarten Facebook page and the teacher who was told no unblocking because what if everyone was expected to do it?
  • Steve Jobs: it doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.
  • Squashing ambitions of those who want to go above and beyond to try something new will ensure schools have only pockets of innovation
    • Left instead create environments of competitive collaboration to help us all grow and get better
  • Home a place where no is our default and where we strive to create a culture of yes
  • Classroom teacher vs school teacher page 74
  • Important to know each of your staff and to know how to meet their needs of innovation.
    • Important to find out where they are on the Continuum and how you can support them and push them at their level
  • Human interaction is the key force in overcoming resistance and speeding change page 77
  • Tailor professional development session in small groups around the question of “what would you like to learn?”
  • Without a trust culture there can be no culture of innovation

Chapter 5 – Learn, Lead, Innovate

  • If we’re going to be effective leaders we must model the behavior and attitude we seek in our learners
  • Disrupt your routine
    • for a new perspective as often important to disrupt your typical activities to think differently
    • example of shadowing students and having a complete all their work for 2 days
      • This brings us back to the question what I want to be a Learner in my own classroom?
  • Be present, lead people, manage things
    • Take my management stuff on the road. be in classrooms while I’m taking care of other business period page 85
    • Stephen Covey: you must manage things but you lead people. That is how we will  Empower them.
  • Master learner, Innovative leader
    • Example of digital portfolios and him starting his blog. In order to be Innovative you must continue to be a learner to try on cut ties with those that you lead. Put yourself on the front lines with them.

Chapter 6 – Engage vs. Empower

  • It is imperative that we teach Learners how to be self-directed and guide their own learning rather than relying on others to Simply engage them. Page 90
  • engaging students means getting kids excited about our content interest and curriculum. empowering students means giving kids the Knowledge and Skills to pursue their passion interests and future
    • His example of turning over the health curriculum to the students to teach each other
    • Identity day
  • School vs. learning
    • school promotes starting by looking for answers learning promotes starting with questions
    • school is about consuming learning is about creating
    • school is about finding information on something that is prescribed for you while learning is about exploring your passions and interests
    • school is standardized. Learning is personal
    • School is about giving you information learning is about making your own connections
    • school is sequential while learning is random and nonlinear
  • The five hiring attributes of Google on page 104


Chapter 7 – Creating a Shared Vision

  • Page 108. To truly be empowered people need both ownership and autonomy. Move forward and education to create a vision for Education that then comes to life you must take more than a top-down or bottom-up approach ; we need all hands on deck
  • Page 110, he mentions the importance of systems thinking and systems doing. I completely agree having a vision and Mission are fine but if you don’t have a system on how they will be accomplished they’re worthless
  • 8 things to look for in today’s classroom
    • voice, choice, time for reflection, opportunities for innovation, critical thinkers, problem solvers/ problem Finders, self-assessment, connected learning
  • What if experiment on page 117


Part III: Unleashing the Talent

Chapter 8 – Strengths Based Leadership

  • What if we stop operating on a deficit model that focuses on a learner’s weaknesses and started operating on a strengths-based model that builds on the Learner’s strengths?
    • This is a major failure of what we do. it’s why the RTI process the false hope. my opinion
    • If we embraced this way of thinking we would actually and body a true growth mindset approach
    • This other way of thinking we continue to play this game of educational whack a mole where 1 problem pops up and we focus on that one until the next problem pops up
  • In the same way, we as leaders need to focus on are employee strengths and help them develop them just like we would with student strengths
    • Interesting table on page 126. there’s more detriment done to employees engagement if you ignore them. they would rather you focus on their weaknesses and be ignored.
    • We only get better when we find those who truly elevate us. Look for mentors who will push you to come up with better and brighter ideas and be that person for your followers.
  • We As Leaders need to be seen as risk-takers so those that follow us will feel more comfortable to do so as well
  • His Staffing question on page 131 what your dream position would be?
    • Also I think it’s important to ask where do you see yourself in the next three to five years?

Chapter 9, Powerful Learning First, Technology Second

  • If you don’t shift the mindset on teaching and learning any technology changes are just cosmetic Page 140
    • Michael fullan, learning is the driver technology is the accelerator
    • Author encourages a shift from learning being the driver to Learners being the driver. Shift the onus on the learner’s and Empower them to take control of their learning
  • Page 145 if Educators can’t answer the why then they will never get to the how and what.
  • In this chapter he gives the example of their 6 learning sessions in the teachers getting an iPad.
    • How do we create learning leaders? How do we get more opportunity to promote learning from our adults?
  • Page 147 and 148 are four questions that IT Department can ask themselves to make sure they are focusing on students and learning


Chapter 10 – Less is More

  • Teaching students to write five sentence emails and 10 slide PowerPoints
  • as you add a new initiative ask yourself is this adding or subtracting to the already full plates of the Educators I serve
  • Mistakes he made were overwhelming his staff with information and choices
  • Depth of a breadth
  • How many districts cover 10 different initiatives over the course of three years only to move on to new initiatives every year?
  • From literate to adaptive to transformative in the way one uses technology
  • An idea: take our learning sessions that we did with the futurists and offer the same ones up or teachers can spend time creating on what they learned in the previous session
  • Allow for exploration. be sure not to constrain those professionals that want to expand their knowledge on their own. instead rely on them to help spread it to others
  • Teacher Innovation teams idea on page 162


Chapter 11: Embracing an Open Culture

  • It’s important to be connected to the global conversation So you can learn about what is going on in Innovative classrooms and figure out what you would want to bring into yours
  • Crowdsourcing
  • crowd accelerated innovation
    • People with a common interest
    • visibility to see what others are doing
    • desire to change grow and improve
  • Quote from the book multipliers on page 171 it isn’t how much you know that matters. What matters is how much access you have to let other people know.
  • Social media is not meant to be another form of email but more like to be in your cut into a stream of information. You do not need to keep up with everything, by simply being in the space the best ideas will make their way to you page 173
  • Obvious to you. Amazing to others. Derek sivers
  • Steven Johnson quote Chance favors the Connected Mind
  • Competitive collaboration
  • Using Twitter hashtags to accelerate innovation communication and collaboration in the district page 177

Chapter 12: Create Meaningful Learning Experiences for Educators

  • Staff meetings cannot be wasted by the baiting rules and policies. Example hat policy
  • Some schools education focused too much on discussing teaching and not enough time spent immersing ourselves and Powerful learning and modeling it for others
  • Ego gets in the way. We have to feel like we’re the experts instead of governors in the educational process.
  • Creating opportunities for educators to learn in the same spaces and environments that our students experience daily is important because it helps to build an empathetic viewpoint the possibilities for learning today
  • The Deep dive 8 things to look for in today’s classroom and examples for learning opportunities 4 staff on pages 186 through 197
    • Lots of good examples under these headings to do as a staff or by yourself
    • Educator Innovation day


Part IV: Concluding Thoughts

Chapter 13: Are We There Yet

  • If we want our students to be designers thinkers creators and leaders we must first realize that having them regurgitate information on a piece of paper or even on a computer will achieve nothing more than compliance
  • Questions and answers for the chart on page 207
  • Promotion of the idea of digital portfolios  – Pages 209-211
    • learning portfolios as well as showcase portfolios
    • This is a great idea to work around all of the recent need for quantitative data. using real life examples and providing a digital history of it shows growth.
    • This allows schools to tell stories about learning more than any number ever could
  • How to measure success? If we are truly going to make an impact we have to go beyond numbers and start measuring success in different ways
    • It’s about compiling more qualitative data and less quantitative data
  • Relentless restlessness – We are Never there yet


Chapter 14: The Biggest Barrier and Game Changer to Innovation in Education

  • Erica Goldson graduation speech from 2010 on page 222
  • The majority of Educators Embrace this profession in the hard work it requires because they love their students. If we reduce what we do 2 numbers and letters to measure achievements then we forget that it is Passion that drives us.
  • People challenge others to think outside of the box when we really need to think about how we can be innovative Inside the Box
  • Mindset is both the greatest barrier and the greatest game-changer to innovation