The Value of Open Learning When You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

At the beginning of July, I started to lead a book study on Instagram on “The Innovator’s Mindset.”   Here was my initial plan for the endeavor.

  1. Read a chapter a day for two weeks straight until the book was completed.
  2. Make up the rest as I went along.
  3. See what other people create through the process.

Honestly, I started this process because I wanted to see if Instagram would be beneficial as a platform for learning through a visual means, and I wasn’t familiar with the process. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. My bio reads, “An educator but you are going to find mostly babies and puppies here,” because that is what it mostly was (and might be in the future).

My first post to introduce the process on Instagram was using Apple Clips

I hoped that just using this tool would help educators think about video and accessibility for themselves and learners in the classroom because of the automatic captioning.

Since then, I have tried the new Instagram TV feature, daily posts encouraging comments, some minute-long reflections, and an Instagram Live Q&A.

But what has been absolutely the best part of the process is seeing what other people create. If you check out the #InnovatorsMindset hashtag on Instagram, you can see lots of great reflections, and some done in unique ways.

Two posts that I saw today were inspiring. This one by Beth Ludwig is a compilation of her week of learning:

I loved what Beth shared because when I challenged people to create some type of reflection from the week, she created something that I would not have envisioned myself.  Leaving it open encouraged more creativity and opportunity for the learner to find their way, instead of merely following my directions.

Greg Moffitt did this great video reflection that encouraged his students to continue with their “homework” over the summer but also modeled himself explicitly as a learner to them as well.

To watch other educators join me in this process has been inspiring as they are more focused on what learning can look like for themselves to better understand from their student’s point of view.  It is has been pretty impressive to watch, and I have learned a ton.

So what I have learned from the process?

1. It is okay not to know and try something different because that is the process of learning.   

I will never get to “knowing” until I commit to the learning portion. Ultimately, the “knowing” process is not static either as what I know today, could change even in slight ways tomorrow, but if I am always willing to learn, I will be fine.

When I think about Instagram in this process for me, I am trying to move from a basic understanding to a more transformative use of the platform.  For me to do that, I have to start small and work my way up. But you don’t get to the “deep learning” without dipping your toe into the surface level first.  It reminds me of this part of my book.

2. Learning together with a supportive group of educators makes it so much easier to take risks and try something new. 

Many of the participants have stated their reluctance and fear of participating and THEN participated.  People have commented, encouraged, and shared different ideas and thoughts, and even through challenging one another, have been amazingly supportive.

When you feel you are in a community that both pushes you while having your back, it is much easier to grow than in a space where you are worried you will be attacked if you don’t do it the way someone expects.  I have learned a lot more from the group than they have learned from me because the learning is not only open but supportive of one another.

It has also been neat to see my book through the eyes of others and their own context. At the beginning of the book, I stressed that I could not give a formula for innovation, or else, it wouldn’t be very innovative, but wanted to help people find their way within their unique contexts.  You can’t carbon copy ideas for your school or classroom because each group of learners we serve are uniquely different. What you can do though is iterate and invent opportunities that are beneficial to yourself and your students through the lens of being a learner first, and an educator second. I hope that what this process has provided for others as it has done for me to this point.

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