Innovation Is A Hot Mess



Every September this working mom feels like a hot mess. Unfortunately, the start of the school year is always busy for our family. I have three very adorable, very active kids. I teach all day and I drive home to do the after school activity shuffle. Each day, my home gets messier and messier.

One day, I was home in our office thinking about innovation in my virtual classroom.  I have read George Couros‘ book, The Innovator’s Mindset, a few times. It’s phenomenal and I can not encourage teachers enough to get the book, read it, and share your thoughts. I have also signed up for his online course that mirrors the ideas in the book. My next few blog posts will reflect how I will be incorporating my innovation sessions (Creativation) into my virtual lessons. Yes, I  have a plan…I think!

For those of you who may not know, I am a cyber teacher. I teach learners online and throughout the year invite them to our family learning center.  I feel I innovate everyday as a cyber educator. I work with some amazing teachers, true innovators and educational pioneers; they are finding ways to enhance learning in a non-traditional school…everyday. No, there are no “how to teach the online learner” books out there, nothing to help us (Dave Burgess, you listening?). We focus on pedagogy and best practices just like every teacher out there, but we do it online. I feel we are at the fore-front of providing rich, thought provoking, innovative lessons to all learners regardless of where they live (inner city, rural, suburbia) in the state of Pennsylvania.

As I look around our messy home office, strewn with back to school calendars, sport forms and paper work, the questions begin to swirl around in my head…

What conditions are ideal for creative innovation?

How important is the working environment to innovation?

Are there ready made barriers in classrooms or cyber rooms that could discourage students and impede innovation?

All of my learners are home schooled and each of their home environments’ are different. Some live in more urban areas, in small apartments, others may live in homes or on rural farms. Will one environment provide a better platform for creative innovation than another?

When I think about my gifted and talented class and our innovation sessions, I don’t worry so much about the actual virtual room environment. We see each other via webcams, they talk and interact with one another.Our relationships are strong. We have breakout rooms that provide a small group setting for collaboration and individual work. I know many learners feel comfortable, eager to participate in our lessons and hungry to learn. However, I know some will have difficulty with risk taking. I know many will struggle with multiple solutions. “Is this right?” they will ask. Most gifted and talented learners struggle with growth mindset. Some learners will have a hard time with the amount of freedom to innovate. I am anticipating some sort of issue with generating ideas and being open to others ideas. I have not thought about their physical working environment and it’s possible impact in regards to innovativeness.


This quote speaks to me and makes me wonder. Could the environment we’re in, lead to more innovative ideas?  I’ve never been a fan of having an extremely messy desk or house, but I’m starting to think I might need to leave it messy more often. It may be time to test this theory. What conditions will you have in place for your learners to innovate?  Will you be changing your physical working environment for learners during your innovation sessions? How? Why?

7 thoughts on “Innovation Is A Hot Mess

  1. Great post Spiri and really interesting provocation…I read “Orginals” by Adam Grant and one of his ideas that really shook me is that some of the most creative people are some of the biggest procrastinators. They often wait until ideas hit them instead of being forced to create something due to a constraint of time. Thought of it while I read your post.

    P.S. Thank you for sharing the book 🙂 Really appreciate your leadership!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed!!! You are amazing. Teaching and being a mom is a hot mess! I have three kiddos myself, so I understand the messy house problems. I love the questions you posed…I think the environment can definitely have an impact on creativity and innovation. And also, great Einstein quotes! 🙂 I’m looking forward to hearing more about your cyber teaching journey and innovation.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Very interesting to read about teaching from the “cyber” perspective. Having worked in a “traditional” environment for 27 years I have tried for all of that time to use technology to promote innovative ways of teaching and learning. I would have thought that a cyber environment would naturally have students who have a greater comfort level with technology. However, as I have heard George Couros and others state, having technological tools does not automatically lead to more effective or innovative teaching or learning. I would agree that not all students (especially those very driven to “get it right”) are comfortable with more than one right answer. It was interesting to read your comments on a messy desk. I work hard to not have a messy desk in my school office or home office but it eventually gets very messy. I would like to think that this means I am being more creative but when it gets really bad I find I can’t work there at all and then I have to organize it again. So, if you prefer it neat, you may find being messy won’t work for you very well. Oh well, you can’t be innovative without trying new things!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Having taught in an online environment, I appreciate and echo your reflections! Although my online students became very adept (very quickly for the most part) with the “Technology” part of the online environment, this did not necessarily translate to them being risk takers in regards to their learning. In many instances, students insisted on “printing off” their work and faxing it too me, because they were resistant to “handing it in” in the online environment. They tended to want to stick to the tools they were familiar and comfortable with, and needed a great deal of encouragement to try something new or different. It is an interesting experience teaching in an online environment, and I look forward to hearing more of your reflections! 🙂


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