I mentioned this before, but I have recently started reading George Couros’ blog called the Principal of Change. George is the author of The Innovator’s Mindset, which I have not read, yet…No time and a too long reading list already, but I do want to.

Plus, he will be the keynote speaker at the CUE conference this year. So, I might have to so I can feel part of the club.

I don’t know if he expands on the idea, I imagine he does, but I read something he said and I will paraphrase it.

Innovation is not just about thinking outside the box, but thinking inside the box.

I thought it was an intriguing idea. Being creative and innovative is not just about having extravagant ideas, or ideas that buck the system. It is also about making creative and effective change from with the confines of, well, your confines. As teachers, we have all kinds of requirements on us, standards, differentiation, ELD, RTI, HBO, etc, ad nauseum. Most of these things, by themselves are good ideas.

However, taken all together, add your own family/social life and it becomes confining. Thinking inside the box acknowledges these pressures on our lives. In some cases thinking OUTSIDE the box may result in our thinking about another job…because whether we always like them, the general requirements for teachers are nonnegotiable.


Thinking inside the box allows for creative thinking and problem solving within those confines, within your predetermined boundaries. I love this idea!

I am a rule follower, but one of the things I like to do is push back on some of the things I’ve ‘always’ done, just because I have always done it. And I like to consider why I do the things I do and ask “Is this what is best for the kids. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not believe we ought to be creative and innovative and ignore all the rich teacher heritage of folks who have come before us. That would not be wise.

Just because it is ‘Old School’ doesn’t mean it is not effective. But we sometimes have to be willing to change, and that can be scary. No matter how long we have been teaching.

Getting back real quick to the rule follower part…When I am new somewhere, I like to ask a LOT of questions and I easily turn into THAT guy (Sorry PV). The reason I ask so many questions is because I like to find out where my boundaries are so I can work within those boundaries. The box can be a safe place, and if I am safe, I can have emotional room to be creative and innovative.

So, I encourage you: Get out there, and be innovative, and creative…just be willing to try it from inside the box. Or outside.

Do it or don’t!



I loved this book as a kid. 🙂