Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cultivating a Culture of Thinkers

(Photo by Richard Shaw)

Recently, I have made it a goal to be hyper-metacognitive about my own learning and creatives processes.  In an effort to identify what inspires me and pushes me to be innovative, I have taken time to reflect and analyze not only what I am learning, but all the internal and external factors that form the learning that is taking place...

What? Yes, I am actually doing this.  And it is exhausting.

I have also been spending a lot of time reading about the work Project Zero has done and taking ideas from their research.  It is fascinating work worth looking into if you are interested in innovative and creative thinking.

One specific project, A Culture of Thinking, is explained here:
We define “Cultures of Thinking” (CoT) as places where a group’s collective  as well as individual thinking is valued, visible, and actively promoted as part of the regular, day-to-day experience of all group members. Drawing on previous research by Ron Ritchhart (2002), the CoT project focuses teachers’ attention on the eight cultural forces present in every school, classroom, and group learning situation. These forces act as shapers of the group’s cultural dynamic and consist of language, time, environment, opportunities, routines, modeling, interactions, and expectations...However, this work doesn’t happen by teachers merely implementing a defined set of practices; it must be supported by a rich professional culture.
This brought me to an interesting place.  How can I help create a culture of thinkers among our staff?  How can I help inspire them the same way I have been inspired by attending ISTE, engaging in social media, and blogging?  

Amazingly, this all came together while I was at a meeting with my administration this week.  I am so lucky to work with administrators that want to support a rich professional culture (and also trust my crazy ideas).  During this conversation they agreed to let me rework the "Technology Committee" at our school, rethinking its purpose and goals for the coming year.

Thinking about the Culture of Thinkers project, I came up with the Committee for Innovative Teaching, which would take the place of our previous technology committee.  Focusing on three major initiatives, this committee would serve as a safe space for teachers to talke risks and share their innovative classroom practices.  We would no longer being a group of people worrying about technology as devices, but would be engaged in being leaders in innovative practices.

In a world that is transforming rapidly before our eyes, a culture of thinkers, both in adult and student communities, is vital.  How is your school creating a culture of thinkers?  What has worked to inspire innovative teaching and transform practices?


  1. I'm excited about your new committee! It sounds great. Every time I see what you are doing in your classroom (and by reading your curriculum) it makes me want to teach middle school reading again.

  2. Thank you for your ongoing support Jodi! Middle school reading is pretty great. I am excited about everything we have planned for next year. Lots of change and growth!