31 March 2014

Culture Club

This past weekend I noticed a documentary on Netflix called Inside Pixar.  Since my son was with me folding laundry I thought this would be something cool to watch together.  It focused on John Lasseter, the head of Pixar and the company's journey over the last 20 years.  Here are some interesting things I learned:
  • Lasseter actually worked for Disney in the late 70s/early 80s and was fired for being too creative.  He was immediately hired by Lucas Arts for his ability to solve problems using creative solutions.
  • The company's buildings are designed in such a way as to facilitate conversation.  Whether it is during lunch, walking to a meeting or just going for a stroll.
  • Hugging is the preferred greeting for Lasseter.  He even has a doll of himself in his office (among the hundreds of other toys) that has "real hugging action."
  • In every film Pixar has created, when they set out to make the movie, they had to invent the technology to make their ideas a reality.
This last idea is the one that fascinates me the most.  Imagine at the start of every school year, the school's goal is to create something that has never been done before.  Or, every club sets a goal of conducting a fundraiser that has never been done in the school before.  Or every teacher's goal is to create a project/teach a lesson/try something that they have never done before.

Imagine the culture of creation that the school community would have.

We use phrases like "that's the way we have always done it."  What if innovation was the thing we always do?

25 March 2014

Love what you do

I took this video while waiting at a red light.

It doesn't matter what you do for a living.  Love what you do.  Do it to the best of your ability.  And, above all else, bring the awesome every day!

22 March 2014

An Idea I Want To Pursue...

My TED Ed Club is amazing.  I love our meetings and the discussions we get into.  The students in the club have fantastic ideas, but very few of them are ever put into practice.  For the most part, my club's members are people who are great workers, can be given any assignment and they will use their intelligence and creativity to turn it into something remarkable, but they are workers, not leaders.  A handful of the members of the club are your typical stand-in-front-of-a-crowd leaders, but wall-flower is a much better way to describe most of the members of the club.

None of this is a bad thing, but part of being a TED Ed Club is turning our ideas into reality.  When we had our meeting this week, I gave every member an index card and told them to write down "an idea that they want to pursue."  This was very tough for a lot of them because they had never formalized the ideas that were in their head.  They then had to switch cards with someone they don't talk to on a regular basis (we have a lot of groups of friends in the club) and on the back of the card, draw pictures of things the person would have to do to make their idea a reality.

While there are a lot of aspects of Google that I am in love with, there are three things that I feel relate to running TED Ed Club impact projects:
  1. The boss doesn't interfere with the employee's passions
  2. All projects must be audacious.
  3. All goals (personal or professional) must be made public.
I discussed these three goals with the club and then dropped a bomb on them.  Their homework for next meeting (Monday) would be to create a blog using their school Google account and their first blog post had to be about the idea they want to pursue.  This scared so many of them, including the vocal leaders.  Most had 1) never written a blog post, and 2) never thought the world would see/hear their idea.  I told them that we are better together;  if we publish our ideas and let the world give us feedback, then our ideas will grow and become so much better than if we keep them to ourselves.

I have always considered myself as much a member of the MHSS TED Ed Club as the adviser.  Adviser is just a title I was given.  So, I wrote my Idea I Want To Pursue on an index card

This is going to be the focus of my community impact project.  I wrote this card and as I was thinking about the students doing this themselves an idea struck:  why not have other teachers do this as well?  So I walked around all day with index cards in my pocket and asked random staff members (custodians, security guards, teachers, secretaries) to fill them out.  Here are some of the responses:
I showed my club the video of one of last year's Google Science Fair winner and after they were in complete awe, I asked them one question "What makes your idea better than hers?"  The answer is simple, and they realized it quickly: because it is YOURS.

So...what idea are you going to pursue?