As a former teacher, I know that pedagogical innovations must be built as carefully as space technology; what seems good in the lab can easily explode on contact with the complex, dynamic environment of a classroom.
The solution is to partner with the experts, so I bounce back and forth between the lab and the classroom. I work with teachers to iterate and re-iterate an approach that integrates powerful psychology, is robust enough to survive its “entry” into the classroom, and, frankly, doesn’t annoy teachers. This last bit is key.
The innovation I’m working on is major. The design demands are extensive, because I believe we need a seismic shift. No more curricular add ons, special programs, and extra classrooms. No more clutter. We need to evolve the very way we see students, feel about them, motivate them, and speak to them. Open your psychology book to page one – motivation, mindset, and competence psychology works best when taught in applied settings.
We need an adaptive, integrated, ground level change, meant to be used every day, all day, so it has to fit like a glove. Or… a whole outfit. It can’t be too tight. It can’t ride up. It can’t have a falling down zipper or be like those socks that slip down into your shoes. It also can’t be like a giant Canada’s Wonderland puppy costume that you can’t even see out of, that is stifling, or that makes you clumsy and slow. Teachers are just too damn active and busy to use a sloppy intervention.
It needs to be like the outfits designed for superheroes. Remember Edna Mode from the Incredibles? Sometimes I feel like her – trying to create something incredible enough for a teacher.