Monday, March 27, 2017

Try it! You just might like it.

Innovative ideas often get written off out of fear. Fear of doing it wrong, failing, or that it won't impact student learning. Or maybe because it is an idea that seems old or been done, or the examples you saw didn't seem that impactful. It is easy to write off an idea that you have never tried.

Just like getting children to eat a new food, try it and you might like it. I have had a few conversations recently about different innovative practices in the classroom.  I am in two book studies right now and we are using sketchnoting as a tool. Drawing for me is uncomfortable. It is a skill I have plenty of room for growth. I learned about sketchnoting last year and thought that looks amazing, for people that can do it. The more I learned about it from watching others like Leah O'Donnell, the more I wanted to try it, so I pushed myself to start "sketching" at conferences. I put it in quotes because it was more writing scribbling than sketching.     

My First Sketchnote

Fast forward to this year and I have 36 sketches in my Paper 53 app from conferences and books. Now, I get it. I see the power of how ideas can be synthesized and I often look back at my sketchnotes to refresh my mind on the topic. In the past, I would rarely go back to my notes or highlights in a book. The quality of my drawing isn't the point. I often find myself thinking deeper about the content and visualizing it to deepen my learning. It is improving my thinking and that's powerful. 

My Lastest Sketchnote

We were recently having a meeting on a book we are reading with the coaches across the district. Many were hesitant and felt vulnerable to sketchnote, as I had felt last year. I got a few compliments on my sketch and had to laugh because I didn't realize how I had grown as a sketchnoter. I reminded a colleague that we ask students to do things every day that are uncomfortable for them. There is a lot of power in the strategy, encouraging her to try it. Well, this morning she copied me on an email to her entire building sharing her sketchnote and offering to help them implement it in the classroom after seeing its power.  This shows the immense power of our ideas, how they can spread, and the importance of trying a practice for ourselves.  

Now this example was about sketchnoting, but that is just one example of something that we can't see the power until we try it. Think about something that you may have written off that keeps creeping back into your mind. Give it a shot. You may just find the power within it to redefine learning for you or your students.  You don't have to be better than the person next to you, just be better than before.     


  1. Love this! Trying new things is so important, especially in education! The point about how we ask students to try new things all the time is so powerful. Great post. :)

  2. You are so right... we need to take the practices/encouragements we use with students to benefit our own learning and experiences! Love it, Jen!!

  3. Thank you for sharing your experience! We must try ourselves if we are asking students to try!

  4. Thank you Jen for sharing. You are so right... I waist so much time telling myself "I can't". I can only ask of myself what I ask of others .... just try!! GREAT POST!!

  5. I feel like I'm living out of my comfort zone most days and getting comfortable with that! Seeing results from it is the reward.