george-200x150 George Couros (@gcouros and kicks off the MassC.U.E./ EdTechTeacher Leading Future Learning Conference . As I start off this blog, George is sitting next to me as Tom Daccord introduces him stalking me stalk him online as I glance over his blog, twitter, and presentation materials. He just asked me how to pronounce Woooosta and if this is Boston. Don’t hold it against him, he’s Canadian and Lakers fan…

George’s talk is Leading Innovation Change and he starts off with: “the smartest person in the room, is the room.”

He encourages folks to get out their device and get on twitter and use the hashtag for todays event #LFL2014 to engage. He really wants to keep connections and learn from each other. If educators are looking at hashtags and twitter handles as gibberish combinations of symbols, numbers, and letters, then you are becoming illiterate. We need to embrace twitter to improve education.

“Transformative leaders don’t start by denying the world around them. Instead ,  they describe a future they’d like to create instead”- Seth Godin.

He compares education to becoming like “Trip Advisor” as kids share their learning experiences online. Listening to student voices is becoming bigger through social media.

Source: Wikipedia

George interviewed to be kindergarden teacher because he was inspired Billy Madison. Then they gave him technology instructor job. He has taught every grade but Kindergarden and worked in various principal positions. He wants to inspire students. George pulls inspiration from his father, a Greek immigrant to Canada with a 2nd grade education, who started a restaurant and ran it for years. Every leader should manage a restaurant for 3 months, he says.  His father and his mother greeted customers, cooked amazing food, and paid acute attention to each individual who came through the door. His father had to overcome so many changes such as a 70-80 degree Greek Islands climate to -40F Canadian tundra. Educators need to also overcome change. His father even though having a low education level, was a continuing educator. He actually had the first VCR in their town and it made the local newspaper. George continues his education and draws inspiration from his parent’s story.

We need to keep pushing ourselves and do different things. Kids are publishing things and its going everywhere around the world. He has never taking a technology class. Its all about relationships and learning.

We need to rethink school.

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” -General Erick Shineseki


George illustrates where students are coming from with technology and social media with some pop culture recent events such as the new Pope’s new approach to the changing world. His impact went beyond the 5 kids taking a selfie with him. He is telling a different narrative of the Catholic church.

At a Justin Beiber concert, all kids have their phones in their air to capture what they are experiencing. When you tell students to put away phones in the classrooms, it creates a culture that says: “We don’t trust you.” Outside the classroom, this is how they consume their world. This approach assumes everyone learns the same as well.

Its not about what information you find. Its about what you do with the information. Theres something wrong with the approach that using Google is cheating. If you can easily find the answer to your test question on google then theres something wrong with the way you’re testing.

Technology does not equally engagement. We are all equally connected. Grandparents want to learn Facetime. Its not meant to replace Face-to-Face connection, its meant to enhance it.

“If you think of the Internet as a place to look up stuff, then you are missing it.”

George continues to illustrate some examples of technology integration:

  • displays how many tweets are going out right now. A great visual for how fast information goes by and how we are all part of it.
  • Chris Hadfield, an astronaut is tweeting from space and engaging with students. Think about how powerful that is to create those connections for students and engage their science learning.
  • A remote school in Canada, engaged via Twitter and Skype with students in New Jersey affected by Hurricane Sandy. The landlocked Canadians learned about hurricanes on the coast, something they would never experience via a text book glossary definition.

“Isolation is a choice educators make.” George’s school encourage teachers to live tweet during the day to connect with other teachers all over the world. While, some people say we share too much. The human connections are facilitating something very powerful. People put their videos of their life out there and while it might not always effect you. Someone is connecting and it maybe valuable to someone else and that should inspire.

  • George showed the video of a new way to do the Newsletter: a video! The principal introduces himself as the “Lead Learner.” George points out to the crowd that not one face was looking down during the video. “You were just engaged by another school’s newsletter.” Has that ever happened?

“Connection to the heart before a connection to the mind”

Research shows that Facebook is actually improving reading and writing as its a constant engagement. When were you as a kid, reading, writing, and walking at the same time! George shares a 7 year olds video blog. She also comments on everyone who comments on her blog. That’s reading and writing!

The BIG Question: Wouls you want to spend the whole day learning in your classroom?

George’s ideas to anwser that questions

1. Reaching out to teachers: “To Innovate, disrupt your routine.” George wanted to learn about digital portfolios so he mimicked it in his own digital lige. He has created a few different blogs and reaching out to educators through it. He wanted to get his teacher’s blogging. So he gave them time and support to create thier blog by assigning each teacher to create a blog post on a PD day by 10am. He scheduled blogging from 9-10am but

2. Narrow your focus: You don’t need to sign up for 100 social media and tools.

3. Move to Meaningful creation: “Learning is creation, not consumption. Knowledge is not something a learner absorbs, but something a learner creates.”

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Teachers are thinking differently about how they connect with students. Little peices that come together over time. When you put the snapshots together over time, its very powerful. Imagine if you had sutdents take 1 second clips of thier learning in the year. How powerful is that? We shouldn’t stop kids from this creation. We need to rethink and engage students in a new way. Focus on creation not

“They have to be interactive producers, not isolated consumers.” –


4. Do not to control talent, but help find and unleash it: Everything that exists to make your schools amazing, you just need to tap into those talents and unleash the creativity.

5. Creating a positive digital footprint. Sharing your innovations, plans, ideas, and creativity with the world means you can take your learning with you forever.

George’s keynote ends with a great visual of success. The biggest changes happen when the leaders mimic the change and include the teachers and go with the teachers and the students on the journey. Are we guiding kids through things as we do it our selves? The longer you wait, the scarier it will be and the bigger the divide will be.

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He leaves with this thought “What is the biggest game changer in education?” Its getting the educators to think differently and get themselves to believe they are innovators to inspire our students.

George came down and sat with me as I finished this post. It took me a while to finish up because I spent so much time watching him, his engaging videos, and reflecting. Then he continued to blow my mind: storify. This is a great tool I will use for Live Blogging as it can follow has tags, pull in videos, and then push be shared anywhere.

So using storify, let me show you what others had to say about George’s talk:

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