So What?

Back in April when we were in London (you know, because of that Google Innovator thing…), my husband and I enjoyed eating at a little place called Pret a Manger. I have no idea if the locals enjoy that place, but each of the multiple locations we encountered was always busy, the food was fresh and tasty, and its prices seemed reasonable – although it was in pounds, so who knows. Thrift seems to elude us when wpret-a-manger-napkine go on vacation.

Anyway, our last stop at Pret a Manger was at Heathrow airport, and the slogan on my napkin caught my attention: “Nothing to declare.” I thought the play on the natural content of the food and the typical customs questions was really clever. I saved the napkin because I liked it so much, and I came upon it again a couple of weeks ago as I was continuing to make my way through the detritus of the trip.


The napkin popped up as I was gathering all the swag from the trip (you know, the one where I became a Google Innovator...) and creating my first-ever attempt at a shadow box. The wife of one of my fellow innovators had made him one, and when he posted it on our group chat, I knew that I wanted to give it a try, too. It needs a couple of extra pins in a couple of places, but overall I’m very happy with it, as it displays in one place so many happy memories:


But I’ve been thinking about that napkin in relation to my whole trip, already six weeks in my past. People ask me about Google London, and I tell them, “It was wonderful! It was the best professional experience I’ve ever had!” and while that’s true, I want to make sure that I put into practice the things I learned there – or else, I’d have nothing to declare – yes? So what is it that, a month and a half after the fact, I took away from my Google Innovator experience? What’s the “so what”?

  1. The design thinking process is something that can and should be applied in all our training plans. At the Academy, we were taught to think in terms of [User] needs [unmet need] because [insight]. In my district, we use the Understanding by Design framework for all our curriculum planning. Those of who plan professional learning also need to keep our learners in mind when we plan our classes. Every class we’re teaching this summer needs the deliberate forethought and planning that we so often do by intuition; thinking about users’ unmet needs and how we can address them (and why) will help us to sharpen our preparation for the classes. 
  2. Have a bias toward action. I need to continue to be proactive in my efforts to affect change in our world. That might mean reaching out to  individual teachers and schools, designing new classes or initiatives, or just thinking through how to solve a problem before turning to someone else for help. I like to think I do those things most of the time anyway, but I want to become more conscious of the idea of a bias toward action.

    Along those same lines, I can’t just sit back and expect my plot to take over the world my CLICK project (the reason I made it to the Google Academy in the first place) to manage itself. I need to keep pressing forward to see it grow and become the resource that I hope it will. And some of the action I’ve taken since I returned is already paying off! Stay tuned for another blog post – soon, I hope – on the latest developments there. (Squee!)

  3. Start suggestions for new ways of doing things or new initiatives with “How might we…” Opening a conversation this way implies both optimism (the implication that we can, in fact, accomplish whatever the goal might be) and collaboration (we, as in us, working together). How might we tweak our Chromebook classes? How might we make ETSI even more successful this year? How might we reach out to more schools in the upcoming school year? How might we demonstrate technology integration more effectively? … the possibilities are endless. And these kinds of questions open the door to more creativity and new ideas, rather than just going with the fallback “way we’ve always done it.”
  4. The power of NOW-HOW-WOW – thinking of ideas that can be accomplished right away, those that can be accomplished with a little help or some additional resources, and those really “moonshot” ideas – the ones that make us say WOW and might seem impossible at first. But those “WOW” ideas are what will really end up changing the world. Fifteen months or so ago, CLICK was a WOW for me – just an idea and a dream that I couldn’t let go of.  I don’t know that it’s going to change the world, but I’ve loved every minute of working on it and seeing it move from a “WOW” to a “NOW.”

My Innovator cohort, #LON17, continues to interact, bounce ideas off one another, and share successes, and I daresay we will all continue to communicate with one another into the foreseeable future. I’m looking forward to reuniting with some of those fabulous, brilliant people at ISTE in San Antonio later this month, and the group is talking about other opportunities for future reunions. As I continue to reflect on this once-in-a-lifetime experience, I know that I, unlike my souvenir napkin, have something to declare: the Innovator Academy was a professional learning experience like no other, and one that will continue to influence my actions for a long time.







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