Renlentless Restlessness

The OSSEMOOC Innovator’s Mindset book club ended about two months ago now, but a small idea has been lingering (Pestering is probably a better word). I wanted to blog about it in March and pushed it off. Then other’s blogged about it and I wondered if I had anything to really add. But as conversations, readings and countless posts about innovation pop up I can’t shake the idea of Relentless Restlessness.

It’s funny how you can read things once and pass it by. I was was re-reading Chapter 13 of the Innovator’s Mindset for our last Google Hangout when the words seemed to jump right off the page. The story is of Brad Bird, Pixar director, who would infuse in his organizations a sense of relentless restlessness“that often uncomfortable urge for constant innovation, driven by the nagging feeling that things are never quite good enough.”

If I’m completely honest I probably liked the quote at first because I loved reading uncomfortable. It seemed to perfectly label my feelings for this year. I could see myself in the nagging feeling and the wanting more. I know it seems silly at times, but being a leader sometimes feels a little like being a tortured artist always wanting a little more, a bit more of a push.

The more I thought about it though, the more I could see myself in that picture of innovation. With the countless definitions of innovation, I could see myself in this one. Could innovation be that simple? A burning desire to do better. To not except good as good enough, but constantly look at the possibilities ahead.

Then I started thinking about our learners and what success means. What do I want for the learners I have worked with? Maybe more than just a definition of innovation, a relentless restlessness is what drives our lifelong journeys to learn. Could education be that simple? A nagging feeling to want more, do more, learn more.

How would the conversation about change alter if we looked at it with that urge to continue forward with more possibilities, more opportunities? How would our conversations and experiences with learners change if we saw education as that burning desire for to know more, learn more, want better?

Maybe I’m oversimplifying it. Maybe education and innovation are much more complex. Maybe relentless restlessness is already driving our systems of change. Maybe there’s a danger in always being in that place of relentless restlessness.

I just can’t shake that nagging feeling that there is more.


One Small Spark #the100dayproject

I’ve shared the story before: It was the day after my very last class of my M.Ed. when I saw the post for #the100dayproject. That one single post started a chain reaction of learning for me (which already was a share of a share). Here we are a year later at the first leg of another adventure and I’m reminded once again how much those small individual sparks really can flame in to much more.


I was equal parts excited and terrified when I saw @elleluna’s feed and the announcement of this year’s project. I reposted the image and waited. Waiting is a terrible thing, it’s when the doubts creep in. I learned so much from last year but I still was in that place of uncertainty. What will I create? Who will really want to see it? Will others join in? Slowly but surely folks started joining in and before long we were off learning from each other once again.

Sparks have taken so many different paths. Sometimes it is inspiration from creators in the greater community, sometimes from friends that are trying something new, sometimes they come just from taking the time to create. Some times the sparks are just for my own learning, other times I can see them working in the classroom like Jim’s mystery project and Sharon’s illustrated vocabulary.

It’s amazing to stand back and see how something as simple as creating daily and sharing with a hashtag can turn a spark into a passionate flame.

Why not be inspired by one of our #peel21st and beyond #the100dayproject projects:

Did I miss yours? Let me know.

Want to start? It’s not too late. Join in any time. We had some friends jump in just today.

My Design Moment

This is our April blog hop where educators all post to their blog the same night at the same time around the same topic. Inspired by the Ontario Ministry of Education’s  21st Century Competencies Discussion Document and the Global Day of Design, we thought we would put the challenge out there to actually engage in the design process (individually or with our learners) and then reflect on the experience. Please check out the links below my post to hop on over to their blogs and read/view their stories. We would love to hear your thoughts and comments too!


I mentioned in passing that I needed some LEGO and on Sunday my nephews sent me home with two big tote bins. Sunday I slowly started sorting through by colours and tones like we did for the Uniac Pop Up Makerspaces. So when it was time to create my daily #flatlay for #the100dayproject on Monday I thought why not use LEGO. Seemed simple enough. It’s funny how time can stand still when you are creating and designing. How you can see the feedback loop we so often reference in PD in action as you tweak your design through out the process. The thrill that comes from completing the task and then the ideas that start stirring the minute you step back. I sat on my floor for over an hour just moving LEGO around. That may seem a little crazy (it probably is a little) but it got me thinking. How often do we give our learning community that time to create? How often do we let learners of all ages play, play with physical tools, play with concepts. Do we give folks the time to go through the design process, whether individually or collaboratively, and that feedback loop to adapt and change?

As I stumbled upon John Spencer’s blog post this morning, I was reminded that we don’t need a space, but rather the time and vision to see the design and creation capabilities all around us.


What did you create/design lately? Hop on over to Jim, Jay and Amit‘s blog to read their stories or share your own experience in the comments below or on your blog.


Embarking on another 100 Day Journey

It was last year this time that I was finishing up my M.Ed. and stumbled upon #the100dayproject on Instagram. Somehow I was terrified of not having a project, a course to keep me learning that I leaped at the opportunity. A few friends were kind enough to jump on board, with a support group ready I embarked on creating for 100 days finally using those manual settings on my camera. 100 days later I looked back and realized the many take aways (I shared them here) from a chance to pause, to sharing with a community, to the support that is needed to make it through a project of this length (peer pressure can be good sometimes) but most importantly the energy and recharge that came from creating just to create. I am lucky to have the opportunity to create daily in my day to day job whether it is a quote to share or an event to be designed, a lesson or an activity, but sometimes the busyness of if all means this is the only type of creation that happens. Taking the time last year to pause and practice really reminded me how therapeutic creating could be. There were no strings attached. No procedures or end goals to keep in mind. It was creating just to create. So when I saw this year’s announcement on @elleluna‘s feed I may have done a little happy dance. 

At first I was thinking of the possibilities: I should learn guitar or how to paint. Then I caught myself. This is more about play and practice then learning a new skill, getting into the habit of creating. It needed to be something I could stick with. So photography it is. What type of photography is still up for debate!  Last year I explored the various settings on my camera but I feel I want to focus a little more this time around. So I’m considering the following:

  • #100daysoflookingclosely taking a close up picture each day whether it is composed or just an everyday project. I could push myself to get outside a little more with this one.
  • #100daysofblackandwhite playing with the settings, exploring what makes a great black and white photo could be cool.
  • #100daysoffoodphoto would make me eat better and have more food around but afraid it will become an issue moving forward.
  • #100portraits: This is where I wanted to start but I keep second guessing myself. I don’t know if I have time to hit someone up each day. More than anything I’m fearful of asking folks to take their picture.

So are you ready for a challenge? Will you join our #the100dayproject support group? Maybe the 100 day challenge isn’t for you but this spring is full of so many opportunities to create from the design challenge, to scratch day and global maker dayWhat will you create? Hope you share your journey!

#peel21st Blog Hop: Collaborating Near & Far

This is our March blog hop where educators all post to their blog the same night at the same time around the same topic. Inspired by the Ontario Ministry of Education’s  21st Century Competencies Discussion Document and explore 2 of the areas: Collaboration & Global Citizenship. So for this post we are focused in on sharing our experiences of collaboration both near and far and the role technology played in our experience. Please check out the links below my post to hop on over to their blogs and read/view their stories. We would love to hear your thoughts and comments too!

I should have used headphones. Oops. Tried something a little different with an audio visual post. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!


So hop on over to Amit, Jim, Jason or Kate’s blog and check out their thoughts. We would also love to hear from you! Leave a comment or write your own post.

Better, Easier and No

Every February I do a shortbread cookie fundraiser for a food bank I volunteer with. It used to be huge: 1000+ cookies in a weekend with non stop baking from Friday sundown till sun up Sunday. As time has passed it has dwindled to a much smaller affair (the result of less free time and a much smaller kitchen). I had this moment of crisis as I was baking this February. Standing in the kitchen over the third batter of cookies, I realized that I could just donate the same amount I was raising. It wasn’t much more than I was investing in the ingredients. I could save myself several hours of mixing, baking and packaging. Was it worth the time?

It made me think of education. How many times was I being wooed by what is easier: the go to lesson that I have down pat, the app that is quicker not necessarily better at communicating my message, the easy answer in a conversation instead of the challenging question. As much as the cookie fundraiser takes more time and the donation would be easier, in the end the time spent allows me to build awareness and hopefully a smile on friend’s faces. It was worth the investment.

I thought that was the lesson and then I stumbled on a post by Seth Godin on Saying No. Sometimes I can get caught in this place where I want to do everything better. Everything seems to be just as important and in an effort to do them all well, they all fall slightly short.  Accepting that better over easier also means saying no to some things. Everything can’t be better. Investing the time means letting go of other areas. But how do you choose?

Something I continue to work on.

How do you choose between Better, Easier and No?

Would love to hear your thoughts!


Measuring Innovation

So for our fourth blog hop for the #ossemooc #Innovatorsmindset book club we are tackling the question of measurement. How do we measure the impact of innovative practice in education? After you read the post below, jump on over to the OSSEMOOC site to read the posts of others or add your own ideas. All are welcome. Join in any time!

How do you measure innovation? It is funny how such a simple sentence can be so intimidating. I find I often get stuck on the word IMPACT. What counts as impact? Am I having an impact with my own practice? Are we having an impact as a collective on our system or even education as a whole? I know it is a vital question to tackle as a teacher leader but assessing innovation has often left me feeling grey.

Nature is amazing with perfectly timed lesson.

IMG_9811I was caught off guard by the light coming in to my condo this afternoon when I walked over to the window and noticed a dark grey cloud being pulled across the city sky. I think in many of my conversations about innovation, especially assessing innovation, this was the measuring stick. Sitting down and several months, even years later looking back and saying: ‘Oh can you see the cloud?’ It was almost an innovation checklist, a yes/no, on/off evaluation of the system and change. I always left the conversations disappointed, deflated, defeated. I couldn’t see this blanket of change.


While reading the Innovator’s Mindset and our ongoing conversations in the Hangouts and on Voxer, I’ve been reminded how innovation really starts with small choices. Small choices we make every day to better our practice. Then those small choices, through sharing and supportive cultures, have this amazing opportunity to grow and flourish. Sometimes you can see the innovation trail. I think back to our #peel21st experience and I can pin point the moments on a timeline if need be. Other times it’s hard to nail those moments down, that first seed that started the innovation is so small we forgot about it. Other times it has become such common place we miss the growth we have had as a collective altogether (I reflected earlier here on undercover innovation if you want a better explanation).

So as I stared  at the cloud rolling in this afternoon, I started to wonder if our assessment of innovation needs to be more like the gradients of a sunirse. Maybe it needed to feel more like metacognitive exercises with our students, an exit ticket after an experience. Maybe it is less about standards and more about an ongoing conversation.  A daily reflection to observe, celebrate and plan ahead.

  • How have I/we innovated my practice recently?
  • How did it impact my/our learning community (the big and the small)?
  • Who benefited? Who didn’t?
  • Where do I/we go next?

Maybe that is simplifying the process too much. Maybe there are structures in place to better help with assessing innovation. All I know is that the conversation about assessing impact and innovation has always felt like a dark grey cloud and I’m hoping there it is a way for it to invigorate our practice like a stunning sunrise.