Monday, November 27, 2017

Traditional vs. Progressive Education and the Role of Entrepreneurship

There is a continuing emphasis to promote entrepreneurism in education in order to prepare students for an uncertain future.  Take for example, the words of Founder and CEO of Startup Experience, Henrik Scheel in this 2016 TED Talk, , in which he professes that being an entrepreneur is not a choice in the lives of our students today and that the skills of adaptability and opportunity recognition are key to success in an unknown future.

In "Bridging the Traditional Progressive Education Rift through Entrepreneurship" by Lackeus et al, 2016, from the International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior and Research, entrepreneurship is defined as using three tools of determination:  effectuation, customer development, and appreciative inquiry.  

As teachers, we can develop these tools to create an entrepreneurial atmosphere for learning.  First of all, Sarasvathy's concept of effectuation deals with looking at what surrounds us to help us solve a problem, looking at what we already have including resources and networks. 
Customer development is something done by teachers daily in trying to increase the learning potential of their students, striving to find ways to "market" learning and provide opportunities in various ways for students to see the value in their efforts.  Appreciative inquiry refers to teachers who seek out and recognize opportunities for advancing their knowledge and activities.

The authors go on to say that this brings about a new educational school of thought emphasizing the creation of value for others, a key component to entrepreneurism and a concept that could bring more entrepreneurial thought to the world of education.  

Generalizing itself to a larger population, this way of thinking goes beyond the narrow view of entrepreneurship as the means of starting a business to a way of approaching the learning and preparation of students, bringing about revolution in traditional education.  This necessary transition could be difficult when promoted in an environment that bases its success on measureable and results-driven teaching.  

The authors, then focus on five dualisms that they see as causing the rift between
traditional and progressive education practices:  1)simplicity vs. complexity, 2)individual vs. social, 3)content vs. practice, 4) detachment vs. engagement, and 5) theory vs. practice.

This basically presents itself as a subjectivism vs. objectivism battle within which teachers usually seem to "ride the fence" in the middle, tapping into new realms of entrepreneurial skillsets but keeping grounded into the aspects of traditional academia.  

#1 presents the simplicity of a traditional single-subject focus vs. a multi-disciplinary one that provides open inquiry and practice

#2 considers the cognitive learning of the individual learner and contrasts it to a focus on social interaction and a Vygotskiian view of students learning from the people and social contexts surrounding them

#3 questions the authenticity of learning products developed by students

#4 looks at the level of student interest in projects that are prescribed for them vs. projects based on student passions that naturally fold in aspects of formal learning to deepen it and make it more engaging and relevant

#5 considers thinking and doing in terms of student work and progress

In conclusion, the authors contend that a project-based curriculum developed with the tools of entrepreneurism:  effectuation, customer development, and appreciative inquiry can go a long way to settle the rift between traditional and progressive educational practices.  By implementing these practices in the hope to move from one side to the other in reference to the dualisms causing this rift, it is hoped that teachers can present students with the skills necessary to confidently face the uncertainty of the future. 

Gender and Academic Entrepreneurship

In  "Academic Entrepreneurship – Gendered Discourses and Ghettos," by Faltholm, et al, there is a discussion of gender as it fits into the world of entrepreneurship.  Specifically targeting women in higher education academic careers, the article refers to the female population as being part of an "entrepreneurship ghetto." In a male-dominated conceptualization of entrepreneurship, women are
seen as partaking in the activities, but not seen as part of the main contributors...more of a separate group of those practicing the components of entrepreneurship.

Other references were made to the "glass ceiling" of the corporate world that makes it more difficult for women to be seen as entrepreneurial; thus, leading to more outsourcing, women filling the roles of consultants which help to see them more as entrepreneurs in their career fields.

The "Daring Gender" project at Lulea University of Technology and Umea University that spanned from 2008-2012, aimed to "analyze, highlight, challenge, and in the long run, change prevailing gender patters on academic entrepreneurship," using Innovation funding from the Swedish government.

The study found that one of the issues with recognizing women as entrepreneurial in the academic setting is under-representation of women in the programs and concluded that if a university wants to "commercialize" and promote research results, men and women should have equal chances to do so.  In the effort to create this environment, however, appears the possibility of magnifying the issue by treating women as a special group and not part of the mainstream entrepreneurial community desired.  In order to promote sustainable change, there needs to be a restructuring of the mindset and organization of the place of work and research.

Also, there must be an emphasis to step back and recognize the issues that the promotion of academic entrepreneurship presents for academia itself.  In order to provide systematic change, there should be the ability to recognize and work with the problematic aspects of making changes to promote entrepreneurism in the academic world and accept those as part of the overall process.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Determining the Making of an Entrepreneur...

According to the article, "A Study of Predictors of Entrepreneurial Behavior," it is difficult to
pinpoint personality factors that indicate an entrepreneurial spirit.  In one study cited, a positive relationship was found between emotional intelligence and entrepreneurial orientation.  But that is not a solo determining factor.  The article also distinguishes between "necessity" entrepreneurs, driven to the idea of developing the self out of personal experience with poverty, lack of employment, or other factors and "opportunity" entrepreneurs who seek out situations in which they can start a professional cause or business.

In 1985, Gartner determined that entrepreneurs are a diverse group; in fact,  most studies have been unsuccessful in connecting personality traits, gender, age, or education to entrepreneurial thinking.  Some researchers tend to believe that one can develop entrepreneurial thinking based on what is happening around him or her in a social context.

Motivations suggested to thinking entrepreneurially included characteristics such as independence, achievement, and recognizing one's own creative talents.  Its seems, then, that there is a relevance to confidence in the process of becoming entrepreneurial, to knowing one's self and the reasons for one's actions and feeling qualified to make decisions for the future.  Still, there can be barriers such as finances, shortage of skills, institutional hindrances, and uncertainty of the future.

This brings me to thinking about teachers and entrepreneurial mindsets.  If we, in fact, are promoting that more students think entrepreneurially for a future that we cannot predict, it seems that teachers should be the role models in this process.

It is compelling to me to think that there are teachers out there who are "comfortable" with what they are teaching and who do not feel the desire to strive further in an effort to set a futuristic example of forward thinking, self-motivational learning, and risk-taking for their students and colleagues.  Teachers today have many resources surrounding them that could enable them to promote and practice the entrepreneurial process.  One example is the use of social media.  By participating in online communities and networking globally, teachers not only gain relevant and timely knowledge, but they set a precedent with their students that life-long learning and adaptability are part of the new game in education. the heart of this change in the habits and mindsets of teachers comes commitment to professional development and providing the training that produces practicing and confident individuals that we want shaping the lives of our students who face a future in which these skills are of the utmost importance.

Monday, November 20, 2017

What Matters Most...

When we consider looking at changes in the education system, we often turn our attention to our teachers.  After all, they are the direct change agents who work with our students, correct?

But time after time, as I see teachers eager and willing to make
the changes necessary to take students to the next level, they seem to be barricaded into a traditional system with no way out.  Wasn't it Pat Conroy who said, "A bad teacher will always have a job...a good teacher will always be in peril"?  Why is this so?  Don't we want teachers willing to think outside of the box and excite student learning?  Don't we want teachers who "push" the system to provide what is best for our clients?

I have seen many teachers who question our traditional system only to be labeled  "radicals" or someone who doesn't want to be a team player and has an alternative agenda.

Maybe it's time we started listening to these teachers.  They are the ones brave enough to put their thoughts on the line and try new things with students to get them to learn.  Think of the teachers in your past to whom you have felt like devoting your complete attention and effort.  Chances are, they were not the teachers who were imprisoned by a textbook but who found ways to create projects and activities to teach the same concepts and make learning fun and authentic.

Recently, I felt sad when a former student revealed to me that his fondest memory of my class was when he and some classmates created a modern car chase with hot wheels cars on video to depict the storyline of Julius Caesar.  My actual comment was, " THAT'S what you remember about my class?"  I was saddened to think that he had not remembered the times we read the play aloud in class, digging into the subtle meanings of the text, pondering individual mindsets and historical perspectives, and then...something hit me.  He understood the assignment's objectives...he got it...he is now a successful filmmaker...and a feeling of pride soon replaced sadness.

I always thought something was wrong with me.  I always came up with albeit silly ways for students to display their work and show me what they had learned.  Maybe I had it right all along!

Teachers...don't be afraid to be different.  A student's understanding of The Scarlet Letter doesn't have to come from a struggle to understand Hawthorne's vernacular, but can be shown with wearing a hand made letter around the school building and feeling different and judged.  They will GET the meaning and the point of the literature.  And what is wrong with that?  Absolutely nothing.

So, if you are a teacher who thinks creatively to come up with projects to help students to learn, keep it up.  Someday, somewhere we might see a change in just how students are educated and just how creative and successful they can be.  And...who knows...we might pick up a few students on the way who have never felt like school addressed their needs.  They might actually come to like school and take control of their own learning.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Holy "Lots of Pressure" Batman

As I slowly climbed the steps this morning in our CAPS bulding, a bouquet of balloons caught my eye.  They were suspended in a bunch on the second floor and looked awfully close to the entrance into my Teacher Education Lab.  As I came closer, I realized that the balloons were accompanied by a poster displaying pictures of me in my classroom and a rhyming verse of well-wishes for my performance tomorrow on my oral comprehensives as part of my pursuit of a PhD in Educational Technology at the University of Kansas.

While I still have a ways to go (like a year or two) it's nice to be able to at least see a light at the end of the tunnel. This Fall, as the first milestone, I will receive my certification in Instructional Design from KU, and that, too, feels good as a stepping stone toward a larger goal.

What is ahead is unknown, but I'm excited that I have taken this path toward new adventures in my life.

Thank you to my CAPS family for always being there to support me and for putting up with my tired rantings and my absence of sending resources out on a regular basis.  It will be nice, when this is complete, to be able to relax, research, teach, and regain some normalcy in my daily life.

Thanks to my close friends who understand why I don't call or come over and who realize my absences from gatherings are only temporary.

Thanks to my immediate own kids who had to see their mom crouched over a book any time there was an extra minute to spare and to my parents for always giving me the unconditional support that has a way of lighting an internal fire, creating a drive to always strive to do better things.

Thanks for all of the well wishes!  I will do my best to follow through and make you proud!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Authentic Experiences and Learning

 Authentic learning became a part of my life very 5th grade as a matter of fact.  My teacher, Ms. Austin, decided that we should write a letter to an official in order to try to bring attention to a problem in our community.  I don't even remember how we chose our targets.  Perhaps we were given the latest edition of the Weekly Reader to ponder issues around us.  Or, maybe Ms. Austin gave us a list of choices. The year was 1972.  Whatever the plan, I came across a story reporting that the Atomic Energy Commission was considering putting a nuclear waste site in Lyons, KS.

Even though Lyons was almost 4 hours away from Fort Scott, I knew that depositing nuclear waste there would most certainly affect the lives of myself and my schoolmates.  I chose to write a letter to James Schlesinger, then head of the Atomic Energy Commission, pleading with him to rethink the unthinkable.  Just as every other classmate did, I mailed the hand-written letter and considered it "handing in" just another

assignment.  Soon, however, I was to be surprised of the impact this letter would have on my life.

It began with a call to the elementary school office.  Winfield Scott Elementary didn't regularly get calls from Washington, D.C., so when the secretary handed me the phone receiver, she had a rather far away look on her face.  The voice on the other end introduced himself as someone from Schlesinger's office who was calling on his behalf concerning my letter.  Was this a bad thing?  Had I broken some rule?  My face must have turned white because the secretary began to reach for the phone...probably thinking that a fainting spell could occur at any moment.  The person told me that my letter made it to Schlesinger, and he would be writing me back.  But that was just the beginning.  Immediately, reporters began calling my home, asking for interviews.  Relatives from far away were sending us AP Photo clippings (I sure wish I hadn't worn the barrette that day) from newspapers across the country.  Immediately, I saw the impact of a small gesture.  I saw the way authentic learning makes a difference.  That experience changed me, and thanks to Ms. Austin, I now, as a teacher, strive for that authenticity and work to get my students to reach beyond the classroom walls.  I felt like I had made a difference, and I now know what needs to be done to start doing just that.  Thank you, Ms. Austin for being way ahead of your time in personalizing learning and providing problem-solving, authentic experiences for your students.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Experiential Learning...on a personal note!

I just got home from the track--two miles today.  It was such a nice day, and my brain and heart wanted to run four, but unpredictable knees and a meniscus tear repair later, and my limit is two, even with my "Darth Vader" brace. But, as usual...I digress...

As I was walking to the entrance to the track at Frontier Trail Middle School, I saw a line of five buses, empty, parked at the curb, and I was wondering why they were just sitting there.  As I got closer, the double doors at the side of the school opened, and suddenly lines of band members, dressed alike, carrying their instruments, some donning the "FT" logo, began spilling into the buses.  A short time later, they pulled away in a convoy of yellow.

Seeing them reminded me of the experiences acquired in my lifetime when I was a part of the school band.  I remember the excitement of arriving at the school, seeing my friends, putting together instruments and tuning them together, and filing on the buses that would take us to the numerous parades and activities our directors arranged for us.

It's funny what we remember.  I remember specifically having to march faster because the trombones were in the front row, and even the slightest delay could mean a "slide hit" or nudge.  I remember marching on sunny days and being so hot and sweaty that the baton in my hand seemed to do nothing but slide through my fingers and seem worthless.  I remember the times we were angry when we had to follow the horses and dodge what they left behind.  I remember the people, lined along the streets, some waving, some oblivious to our efforts, but all the same, part of the experience that we were sharing.

We learn experientially and through our social interactions, and through my experiences with our junior high and high school bands, I learned commitment, friendship, strategy, logic, confidence, passion, respect, teamwork, and more.  There was no better hands-on, project-based, problem-based, competency-based learning more fitting than being part of that group of about 75 individuals who came together and had to work together to accomplish something.  I learned a lot of who I was during those experiences with and from interactions with those individuals.  I learned things that I didn't always learn when sitting in a classroom.

The FT band is headed this morning to the Old Settlers' Parade.  I hope that they some day realize how fortunate they are to have had this experience.

Monday, August 14, 2017

CAPS Year Nine

Tomorrow, I get to meet a new group of Teacher Ed students and their parents.  Each year I wonder

 how I will ever relay to them the enriching activities we will be doing all year.  It seems that we always hit the ground running, and when have a chance to breathe, we are surprised at all of the
experiences we have had.

That's what I love about the CAPS experience.  Each day brings the possibility of something new.  Some of our best projects have come out of last minute ideas or business partner requests.  If I had turned them down because of my place in the year's curriculum, the students would never have had those memories.

I started with the CAPS crew nine years ago.  I have seen other members of our founding team leave CAPS and have seen others come on board.  Each year is different and yet just as interesting as the one before.

As I reflect back, I think of some of our most exciting projects.  Arcademics ( was a great partner.  After working on a project with two of our Teacher Ed students and a Filmmaking student, they hired all three students who worked for them through their college careers.  The Teacher Ed students would create math lessons, and the Filmmaking student would put them into video form and then send them to Arcademics for review before they were added to their children's educational games website.

We also have had great projects with Sprint, AMC, TapTeach, BrainPOP, Microsoft, other schools and districts, and many, many others.  The students are learning not only the traditional classroom management and pedagogy but are also learning very professional skills as they make their way through the processes needed to complete these projects.

This year, we are working with Real World Scholars and need to have our product idea ready to launch on September 5.  The students will be researching and building their presentation The Gig Gang Theory for Greenbush Educator Technology Conferences in Girard and Eudora, Kansas, as well as for the Regional Educators Rising Conference at Mid America Nazarene University.

And sounds like we are once again hitting the ground running.  To our alumni, we wish you a fantastic year of teaching or a fantastic year at college.  To our returning and new CAPS Teacher Education students, I will see you soon!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Candy Boxes

Yesterday, I attended the funeral for a friend, teacher, and former colleague.  Faye Smith was someone that you would not forget once you met her.  She had a broad smile, a great laugh, and an infectious love for life and people.

As I listened to her sons each speak about their mother and also heard from another former colleague who gave an overview of Smitty's career, I was humbled by her impact on those with whom she came in contact. I knew of some of the fun antics...the raisin costume and leading other staff in the fun of a pep assembly and the way she had to make everyone laugh and have a good time, but I learned new things about this remarkable person.

I didn't realize that she had been the first African American female teacher in the district or that she had been the first female to finish her teaching responsibilities while pregnant or that she got her ESOL certification or that she went back to get a second Masters degree in special education.  My goodness what this vivacious woman had gone through and had achieved.  All in all, she had a ferocious love of teaching and education, and it showed through everything she did to make sure she could reach as many students as possible.

The real thing that was so amazing, however, on top of everything else was her love for making people feel valuable and loved.  She gave out small candy boxes to people all of the time, just "a little something," to make them happy.  Her sons and her colleagues talked of her giving these boxes to friends, students, waiters and waitresses, everyone and anyone.  She was even known to bring them for all of her retired co-teachers group who met (at her direction) once a month to keep in touch and share their lives and would proceed to give the boxes to not only her friends, but everyone around including the restaurant workers.  At the funeral yesterday, there was a table at the back of the chapel, and it was covered in little, decorative boxes of all colors, designs, and shapes.  All were filled with chocolate treats. We were asked to take a box from the table as a last message from Faye.

The box I took was one that caught my eye first.  If you visit my Teacher Education lab at CAPS, you
will see it on a shelf...a constant reminder of Faye and what she taught me and everyone about doing just a little bit extra out of your way to make people feel special and to spread kindness.

Thank you, Faye.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A Teacher's Legacy

Today I experienced something that only strengthened my thoughts about why people enter the teaching profession.  My dad is a career teacher and administrator.  His greatest love of all was music, and he led concert bands and marching bands for years.  He traveled to parades and national football championships to do half-time shows and took his bands to the Rose Bowl Parade. In all of the years that he has worked in various school systems and institutions of higher education, he has impacted so many students and families.  Of course I've always known that and respected my dad so much for the relationships he has built over time, but how do teachers know, unless students come back to tell them, what kind of influence their efforts had on the lives of those students?

The other day, on Facebook, a former student reached out to some of her former instructors with a quote about something to the effect of how teachers are not just teachers but lifelong connections, and her comments and the fact that she took the time to include my name in that list of former teachers energized me.  At that moment, I knew what I needed to do for my dad's 80th birthday.  Twice retired but still substituting, he could never give up this passion that he has within him.

I used the power of social media to make some strategic contacts who I knew could reach out to others in their "groups" to disseminate a request:  write a note, memory, or wish to send to my dad to celebrate his 80th mark!  Word traveled quickly, and in a few weeks time, I had well over 100 texts, notes, emails, cards, pictures, and more sent to me to be included in a scrapbook that I constructed and planned to present to him on his birthday.

Today was the day.  Before I pulled the thick, heavy collection of memories out of the decorative bag, I told my dad, "you know... sometimes people just need to know what impact they have had on the
lives of others."  He was taken by surprise, and as he opened the book and began to turn the pages, all he could say was "oh my, oh my."  Imagine the warmth I felt when I saw the emotions in my dad's face as he looked over note after note.  I cannot think of a better gift that I could have given.

My dad took the book home, and I know that he will have hours of reading and remembering people who found it in their hearts to take the time to send a long letter or just a simple "happy birthday." I watched him connecting with them once again, if just for a moment, through shared experiences.

My dad will know that he impacted the lives of many.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Test Scores and Educational Reform

In the book, Counting What Counts:  Reframing Education Outcomes, there is an interesting comparison between the statues of Easter Island and the goal of high test scores in education.  Just as the Easter Islanders based their success and progress by the statues, many in education have become obsessed with competing globally for the best test scores.  The emphasis on these test scores has caused less emphasis on other areas of education which can be detrimental to the fostering of creativity and the acquisition of soft skills necessary to compete in a modern ecomony.  Ironically, this movement, GERM (Global educational reform movement) is described as "infecting" education.

While certainly test scores have some worth in quantitative measurement of student progress, it cannot be the only measure, and alternatives must be considered.  One of the book's authors, Dr. Yong Zhao, equates the measurement provided by test scores to the concept of one taking medicine to treat an ailment.  While the medication can make a positive difference in the prognosis and progress of the health of the individual, there could be side effects of that medicine that hurt something else in the body along the way.

We must find a way to alternatively teach students and to evaluate progress to create more well-rounded, global citizens whose educational experience has been one to foster an entrepreneurial spirit so necessary in our existing and future society.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Welcoming a New Crowd!

In a few weeks, I will be welcoming some returning students to our CAPS Teacher Education program along with many students who are just now starting this journey with us.  I am excited for this new adventure and am anxious to see what opportunities the year brings to us, but I am always wanting to make sure that I can provide the best insight, opportunity, and knowledge to pass along the passion of pursuing a career in the field of education. With the help of my returning students, I hope that we can do just that and have some fun along the way.

One new venture this year will be our partnership with Real World Scholars.  This organization will be providing us with the resources and support to create our own in-house educational start up.  Under the leadership of co-CEO's Makenna Peterson and Kate Stalcup, (both CAPS Teacher Ed returning students), we hope to start our own business with future education in mind and with an entrepreneurial flair that will create an authentic learning opportunity for them and their CAPS Teacher Education colleagues.

Other planned activities:

*Collaborative co-planning with Mid-America Nazarene University's Department of Education to host a regional Educators Rising Conference

*Presentations at the Regional Educators Rising Conference and the Greenbush Technology Conferences for Teachers

*STEM virtual teaching alliance with Manhattan, Spring Hill, and other school districts

*Preparations for competing and presenting at the National Educators Rising Conference to be held in Orlando, Florida in June 2018

Please watch our twitter feed this fall  to follow our progress as we embark on these and other exciting adventures!

The Competitive Advantage

When trying to get ahead in the entrepreneurial world, attention needs to be given to two factors:

COMPARATIVE advantage:  I need to make sure I can offer my product or services at a lesser price but uphold the quality of what I am offering.
                                                                                       DIFFERENTIAL advantage:  I need to make sure that the quality of what I am providing outweighs that of the competition.

Primary to both of these factors, I would think, would be sustainability.  I would have to find a way to uphold quality while remaining affordable in a changing economy.  Even if I would interchange parts or find other manufacturing shortcuts, I could not sacrifice the integrity of my work!


In thinking more about the effectual thinking model of entrepreneurship, what came to mind was the podcast on "We Work," discussing the start up of Mighel McKelvey's communal workspace concept.  He discussed creating the community aspect as the model for replacing typical work place environments.  He started something with not a lot of capital, but with what he was passionate about and that with which he already had to work.  His life environment played a part in the start up.  He was raised in a commune by his mother and a group of other women, so from the start, he realized the importance of community as a support system.  It also brought to mind a place here in Lenexa with whom we have done some work...Plexpod.  It sounds like a similar system.  Great things are done together, and creativity is certainly not fostered in isolation.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Winning the Lottery

One of my pet peeves is listening to teachers say, "I'm just a teacher," and listening to others say, "you are so lucky that you get 3 months off."  To the former, I say that you are of much more value than that.  You are a professional who can steer the future, make students dream, and change the world.  To the latter, I say, "It's July 18, and I am sitting here at my computer working on opening activities for my classroom in August."  And, that is an almost daily occurrence.  As a learning engineer...there...I said it...I am always looking for, reading about, focusing on new ways to help my students become life-long learners.  Even when I might sit
(Image:    for the proverbial time on the couch to catch a movie, I see themes and actions that I can bring into my classroom of life in some way.

I was recently in conversation with other professionals who were in fields other than teaching, and the subject of winning the lottery came up.  A couple of them said that they would not show up for work the next day.  One said that he would be able to retire early.  Then, they turned to me and asked what I would do, and my comments were the same that I said to my students when they once asked me the same question.  My students had asked me if I would even show up for work if I won the lottery.  I responded, "You know what?  I would still be here with all of you, but there would not be a KIA in the parking lot."  You see, I'm in a profession that I love.  I have already won the lottery.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Effectual Thinking & Entrepreneurism

Effectual logic is people-dependent and causal logic is effect-dependent.
That, in a nutshell, describes effectual thinking for me.  I found it interesting to read Sara Sarasvathy's views on decision making:

  • Type 1-Causal-choosing means to create an effect
  • Type 2-Effectual-having a set of means and looking toward all of the possibilities
In education, there seems to be a gap between what we teach students about being entrepreneurs and how entrepreneurs actually behave.  In most instances, we use a causal approach for students...have a goal in sight and then collect all of the resources necessary to work toward that goal.  This is based on preconceived notions, and all of    (Image:
the resources collected are determined by the aspects of the goal as envisioned.  Effectual thinking looks more at what students already have and what they know about themselves in order to guide them to thinking of possibilities.  This is a very iterative approach to decision making, and it is very difficult for many of us who have forever found ourselves trying to prepare for a goal in the future...we feel safer that way...we know where we are going...but do we really?
Effectual thinking, as one entrepreneur in Sarasvathy's writings put it, is like selling a product before it is actually built.  In this new era of entrepreneurship, this type of thinking seems to focus on a more random approach to solving a problem and depends heavily on creating networks around the entrepreneur that end up giving direction...possibly in a different way than originally thought.  It is highly dependent on a more empathetic approach to problem solving, and it considers "affordable loss" or using minimal resources to develop something to market.  The "sell before you make" reminded me once again of the story of Jim Poss who sold solar-powered trash bins even before production just by appealing to the needs of those he thought might need it most.

Instead of traditional market research that we usually emphasize with students, the marketing research would be more of a hands-on approach to development.  Also, getting buy in early would eliminate some of the uncertainty of going further with an idea.

The founder of U-Haul developed the company from basically nothing.  Even with limited resources, the founder was able to gradually build from within, taking successes and pitfalls along the way as clues for further direction and building.

In my own world, I have been looking at entrepreneurship as a causal form of creation:  create a product that I would want and see if others like it...with an effectual approach, I could use the people around me to help me develop my ideas and dreams.  I always thought I had to have capital ready to go if I ever wanted to create I know that entrepreneurial thinking does not really follow that pattern.  I need to work on my network and listen to those around me!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tim Brown, IDEO, and "Design Thinking"

Tim Brown is the current CEO of IDEO (, an organizational design firm.  In this role, he focuses on empathy and the needs of the end user in design.  Design thinking is less of a sequential form of steps in design but more of an overlapping of thought and creativity.  Design thinking is considered a tool for tackling problems by looking at the needs of people, utilizing technology in a constructive way, and using these attributes for business development success.  A strong emphasis is placed on emotional meaning and solving problems in a collaborative environment with a focus on constructive and effective teamwork.

I can see the concept of design thinking working well in an educational environment as well...most teachers are in the profession because they are passionate about helping others achieve their goals.  The empathy factor is already there, and the craft would be to take what is learned about student needs and focusing on the technologies available and finding ways to help them to be successful.  I think it is fascinating to find how these principles applied to the business world have a place in developing authenticity in curriculum for students.

A Case Study in Modern Entrepreneurship

An entrepreneurial example that follows the Timmons Framework of entrepreneur--opportuntiy--resources--is that of the experiences of Jim Poss.  As a person, Jim Poss was creative, inquisitive, and passionate about causes even from a young age.  He was a true entrepreneur in the modern sense of the word...looking at what he could create from what already exists in his repertoire.

When searching for ways to revise or change his ideas, he was constantly considering the culture around him as the basis for what he would do next.  When he had the idea of creating a solar-powered trash compactor, he knew that in order to make it               (image:
a go, he had to find a way to make it profitable for the businesses
to use.  Although he traveled through a series of experiences and business ventures over the years, he kept coming back to the idea of helping the environment about which he was passionate.  Through many iterations, he managed to bring his idea to fruition by using his entrepreneurial skills:

Solving a Problem
Seeing failure as a step toward progress
Keeping his ideas, products, and supporters flexible for change

Before he even had a product created, he sold the "concept," of what he wanted to do.  He found a way to develop to the customer's needs in every way possible.  He kept his idea alive for a solar-powered trash compactor and put himself into many situations in order to make his idea work, not allowing the doubts of others to interfere with his goals:

  • He found a way to afford a patent 
  • He went back to past colleagues as investors once he had established himself to earn their trust and their respect, 
  • He found the necessary niche by reaching out to ski resorts in Vail amid protests against environmental destruction in terms of building and expansion
  • He rebuilt his product based on the suggestions of his initial customers (working in a 2-bag removal process instead of a 1-bag removal process 
  • He watched the market to make sure that components pricing would not weigh heavy on profits (when steel costs increased, lessening the number of steel components) 
  • He worked out a leasing agreement to alleviate high initial costs allowing more customers
  • He proved his product before he worked toward heavy-hitter investors
I enjoyed reading about Jim Poss.  I'm afraid that at this point in my life, it would be difficult for me to go through many of the steps that he did and keep true to my goal and not allow the doubts of others affect me decision making.  

When working with my students and guiding them through the design process on projects, this story will provide some great modeling for them as an example of how to truly be an entrepreneur.  At every stage, he managed to turn what could have been a roadblock into an opportunity to go another direction but still work toward his goal.  

I respect the bulleted items listed above as models of a true iterative process.  Jim Poss was truly an entrepreneur when compared to the characteristics state previously.  As he saw opportunity, he used it to assess what he had to complete the next step and truly allowed himself to look at the big picture in tackling a problem to solve pertaining to something about which he was very passionate.

New Venture Creation

The modern entrepreneurial concept of New Venture Creation can be broken down into 3 main components:  Discover, Ideation, Launch.  This framework follows the design process in the steps necessary for a successful project launch.  The most important of the three, I believe, is the Discover stage.

Recently, I was talking to the creators of a product to be used in classrooms with students.  After
(image:                                   reading some on the New Venture Creation model, I surprised myself when I questioned them about their discovery process...asking about how they did their market research and to what extent.  I was surprised to find that they had created their product and then took it to others to see if it would be something usable.  This seemed backwards to me after studying the modern concepts of entrepreneurism.

This Fall, I will be working with Real World Scholars ( to help my students build a business that will offer a service or product for those in the field of education.  What I have learned about the entrepreneurial process thus far should help me in working with my students as they go through the very important discovery phase of developing their business.  I am excited for sure!

AGILE Manufacturing and Design

The AGILE manufacturing design can be applied to the design and building of products and software that demand iteration and constant reflection on progress.

Design is considered as a sort of flow chart of steps in development and creation.  The process is flexible and is very interactive.

(image:                                     This process calls for certain parts of the
process:  1) a design that allows for fast and easy variations and changes during and after development, 2) a method of disseminating information, using technology, to all parties involved in the iteration, 3) partners in the process who also support the rapid iterations along the way after reflection and testing, and 4) a culture or team of other developers or team members who also buy in to the iterative process for design.

As one of the initial teachers and curriculum developers for CAPS, we used such a rapid prototyping method for developing the authentic and flexible curriculum in our programs.  The design of our curriculum, while established within the confines of objectives and standards, remains flexible and follows the trends of business practices surrounding us.  By incorporating our website and other services and through our virtual network, we are able to communicate with others to coordinate concepts that truly reflect the culture of productivity and entrepreneurship which we promote with our students.

In seeking out partners to assist with our curriculum development, we looked to industry leaders and higher education programs which support our goal of creating programs that change with industry and push our students' limits to catapult them into an environment much like those modeled by local and national businesses and higher education preparatory concepts.

The exciting part of all of this is that my curriculum changes every year.  By working with those outside entities, we are able, while keeping with our basic curriculum objectives and goals, to re-fashion our activities, assignments, and experiences for our students into real-world opportunities.

Real World Scholars Project

Two nights ago, I had the opportunity to attend an event put on by Real World Scholars (  Michael Crawford and Elyse Burden were tremendous hosts of the event at which I was able to network with many who share my passions for changing education to make it more entrepreneurial and authentic for students.  I have to say that hanging with others of the same mindset actually inspires me to try new and better ways to form my classroom into an authentic and innovative platform for students who want to explore and become more entrepreneurial in their lives and in their careers.

As I discussed topics with my colleagues at the event, I realized how lucky I have been to be placed before the opportunities presented to me to learn, to innovate, to create, and I had to think about how effective professional development could truly be if more teachers had the chance to congregate and percolate ideas for change.

In the Fall, I am hoping to partner with the Real World Scholars organization in order to start a business in my classroom with my students.  I am looking forward to the guidance of RWS to teach my students the skills of being entrepreneurial decision makers for themselves and for their future students and colleagues.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Educators Rising National Conference

 The CAPS Teacher Education National Presentation team of Megan Andrievk, Breanna Clark, Savannah Gorman, and Kate Stalcup flew from Kansas City to Phoenix, AZ on June 23 to attend the National Educators Rising Conference there.  Accompanied by instructor Tammy Fry and co-chaperone Susan Schuckman, enrichment teacher at Blue Valley's Timber Creek Elementary School, they excitedly and confidently embarked on an adventure!  Upon arriving on a hot, 110+ degree day, they organized their thoughts and prepared for the week's activities.  Armed with their Microsoft Surfaces, they quickly connected to WiFi and began to put the finishing touches on their presentation The Young and the Techless:  The Daily Drama of the Digital Divide and to make final preparations for their competitions:  Megan-Interview and Non-Core Subject Teaching Careers, Breanna and Savannah-Impromptu Speaking, and the team of Kate and Savannah-Researching Learning Challenges.

Megan placed 8th in the National Top 10 in Interviewing!  We are so proud of all of our team as they competed against students from other states, most of whom had already been through local, regional, and state competitions before competing nationally.

Asked to present two concurrent sessions, our team presented on Saturday and on Monday.  Both times, they embarked on a new adventure as they presented from Ms. Fry's phone!  With the help of an external speaker, they produced a powerful multi-media presentation on equity in the classroom and educational technology tools for teachers and students.

We were fortunate to have one of our Kansas state supporters at the conference.  Idalia Shuman, Kansas State Director of Teaching and Learning, was there to support us and cheer us on.  We also found time to connect with another Kansas group from Gardner High School who also came to the conference to present, network, and learn.  In addition, we were able to network with others from the CAPS Nationwide Network, from Washington, MO and from Bentonville, AR.

In addition to presenting and competing, we were able to participate in some interesting and memorable UBER adventures, eat some great food, make some great friends, and learn to handle the heat (literally) when power went down one afternoon at the Convention Center and the hotel.  We also heard inspirational talks from recognized, successful educators as they spoke from their hearts about the status of students, teachers, and education in general, and we spent a fun night on the campus of Arizona State University and another in the town of Scottsdale, AZ.

All in all, we had a great bonding trip and had the chance to network with some other great practicing teachers and future teachers.  We will miss our seniors Megan and Savannah but know that they will continue their Educators Rising legacies at Kansas State and at Johnson County Community College and also continue to work with us at CAPS as we welcome our returning group and our new students in our program.  We also look to Breanna and Kate to provide continuing leadership for us all!  There are already plans being made for next year's national conference which will be held in Orlando, FL, at Disney.

As the team returned to the CAPS facility on the night of June 27, tired from the week's activities, they realized that what they had just experienced would be a life-changing memory forever.  Though we all now go somewhat our separate ways, we will always hold in common our goals and experiences from the 2017 National Educators Rising Conference in Phoenix.

Thanks, team, for making this conference one to remember! And, thank you for representing your CAPS colleagues in a most professional and positive way!

Looking at my Strengths...

I view my strengths, as Marcus Buckingham has suggested, as those things about which I am passionate and that build me up as a person.  In my career at CAPS, the Blue Valley Center for Advanced Professional Studies, we spend a lot of time looking at programs such as “Strengthfinder,” “Wayfinder,” “Management by Strengths, “ “True Colors,” etc. as ways to manage our own passions in working with future students/leaders and to shape our curriculum outcomes in our goals of working with our students.
As a part of our professional development, I was able to take the Strengthsfinder survey as a staff member.  This gave me some insight into my personal drive and views of success.
In the Fall of 2016, I was a part of a group of educators selected nationwide to write a national curriculum for Educators Rising ( which included not only a curriculum but also a set of micro-credentials to be used to assess teacher readiness and effectiveness.  As a part of that group, we again had the opportunity to take the Strengthfinder survey as a means to develop our successful operation in teams for the purpose of systematically developing the curriculum.
My top five “strengths,” as defined by the survey remarkably fit my habits and thought processes.  I was excited to finally put my passions into some understandable terms.  The list included, in order, Input, Achiever, Intellection, Maximizer, and Ideation.  Upon reading the descriptions of each, I found myself laughing and say, “yes,” often.  I feel that the categories hit the proverbial nail on the head in terms of who I am and what I consider strengths and how I manage my weaknesses.
This particular category states that I am inquisitive, always want to know more, and see myself as a voracious collector who hoards ideas and belongings in order to save things that may be needed later.  It was nice to learn that having this as a high strength made me a natural fit to be a teacher, researcher, or journalist.  Truly, it seems that my career choice so long ago totally fit who I am as a person.
Ironically, the description also alluded to the idea that I should accept that I will never know everything and that I should surround myself with people who are disciplined and can somewhat “corral” my sporadic thoughts for a purpose. 
I think that doubting my ability to know everything is definitely a weakness that I have managed, and I find it funny that I have done that in my career by seeking out really disciplined people to help me direct my learning.  I think that is how I have managed that part of myself that houses that constant doubt.
Again, the survey results mentioned that surrounding myself with disciplined people can help to direct my efforts.  I constantly need to achieve and am mad at myself if I let down to relax without finishing a task I must complete.  Working on my Ph.D. has even made this worse for me.  I find myself segmenting my time during the day so that I can have long periods of time to read, write, or reflect.  While this would appear to be a good form of discipline, I find that my mind wonders frequently, and I can be distracted easily.  Perhaps this is a weakness that fights against that achievement.  Again, surrounding myself with driven people tends to keep me on track and work on that focus I desperately need. 
This screams Tammy…having a LOT of mental activity but sometimes with a lack of focus.  I tend to come up with lots of ideas, and it frustrates me when others don’t jump on the wagon of what I think is a great idea.  Reading about this as one of my strengths lead me to realize that not everyone connects the dots as I do or as quickly as I do.  This is so true to my personality. 
I had to think back to the interview transcript we read of the Google employee who talked about the rapid creation, continued ideation model.  I would thrive in that type of environment.  Many times, I will dive into something without thinking it through, but eventually it morphs into something even better than it would have formed with much careful planning at the start.  While I realize that this is dangerous, I see it now as a strength as an iterative form of thinking and development!  One way I think I could better manage what some see here as a weakness in planning is to keep a log or diary along the way to follow my thought process.  I am working on a blog for that purpose.
Also, I have found success in jotting down random thoughts at night if I have a lot on my mind and can’t sleep.  Example?  Here is such a rant of random thoughts from just last night.  Please don’t judge…remember my weakness of doubting…J  I often find it relaxing and freeing to speak into the “notes” option on my phone…
The jilted cloud no technology how many students in high school teacher at prep programs continue the effects of current teacher education on entrepreneurial mindset of teachers how technology integration levels determine entrepreneurial to the Teachered teachers at the technology dance with your partner the day time stood still lots of technology and the day technology was taken hostage The three little rigs the three little zigs 
The secret lives of megabytes a monumental laugh. Hiding behind a cloud the truth about TEACHER's fears of technology why David hates school technology for sissies the big bully
The fistfight fistfights jacks and other recess horror stories we missed recess recession and Schools
Leaning forward lean principles of entrepreneurism in instructional design within classrooms leaning over the edge
When lean doesn't mean lean
The diary of a tech phrase teacher memorizing the Gettysburg address memorizing sentence writing and learning to survive in the real world it's like riding a bike
Leaving love the conscious decision making of divorce
Strengthening your purpose leading with the self volcano in the cloud unpredictable state of technology I remember the student who brought the volcano he worked hard to form it =looks so real and we were all intrigued I asked him about how the eruption would occur and was told that all it would do would trickle down the sides--however when lit exploded and burned holes in the classroom carpet...
Crazy hair days the many sides of the month and teacher so many classrooms so many faces so many
The world is a bully and students realization of the real world real world bully some misconceptions of minor did you Keeshan lost at sea visual learners struggle to survive the making you an entrepreneur changing learnings paradigms
Educational branding sending our students to the slaughterhouse but I want to be an artist how we unintentionally shape the lives of her and deserving students. For the love of the same way educational reform does it happen shopping across Town the dangers of school choice. The face in the mirror how shaving your students views of them selves impact their futures the cost of lost the price we pay for 30 students away

Sent from my iPhone
The last two categories fit me as well:  Maximizer and Ideation
As a Maximizer, I am a proponent of “rapid learning,” (which I again attribute to rapid prototyping) and I seek out opportunities to help others succeed, ie. teaching and coaching.  In addition, I am definitely one who focuses on strengths and not weaknesses.  Rather than realizing that I may have issues with organizing or directing my thoughts, I love the fact that I can come up with lots of ideas or tasks to try and manage organization and direction by looking to other focused people to help in that area.  I like to come up with ideas and then have students make sense of how to approach them!
In terms of Ideation, I love to find connections, and nothing makes me happier than finding a way to accomplish something in a manner different than presented to me.  For example, I have used CANVAS as a learning management system with my students for the past two years.  We have used the free version.  I found that my students had to open up multiple calendar entries to try to find activities listed for a particular day.  I knew that I could come up with a way to fix this, so I created a “searchable database.”  Very simplistically, I paste each day’s activities, chronologically, on a separate webpage as I place them in our CANVAS calendar.  Students can use the CTRL+F option to search for a term in the activity, and they are taken right to the information.  I felt proud that I could create this help feature for my students, something that CANVAS had not even supplied for them.
By digging deeper into the Strengthsfinder system and by reflecting on my own practices, I feel that I have a handle on what makes me tick and how I handle my passions and also those things that seem less important to me but are necessary to participate in the professional realms in which I place myself.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Toward Entrepreneurial Mindsets

After viewing Tom Kruczek's comments at, I began to think that there is much more to entrepreneurial thinking than just knowing yourself and following your passions or creating a product. Entrepreneurial thinking encompasses a great deal of risk-taking.  As teachers, we must model this for our students.  On a very trivial level, I experienced something yesterday.
Taking students to present at a national conference is indeed always challenging, but finding out that we would not have wifi available for our presentation sent us into a whirlwind of uncertainly.  If we created a "low-tech" version of our presentation, it would most likely lose its flavor with our audience.  As the students were working on doing just that, though, as our possibly only option, (other than grab a wifi hotspot or pay lots of cash to a company willing to take our cash to make our presentation work), I was toying around with the equipment we needed to pack.
Suddenly, I told the students...I think we could just present from my phone. Amid the crazy and uncertain looks, I proceeded to grab an adaptor and a projector, open the presentation on my phone, and, indeed, make it work.  The students, feeling a sense of relief, I know still wondered somewhat about me and how my brain works.
Now, while I would never, ever equate this to a risk taken in the business world where financial and other risks are critical, I certainly see it as a small, to some somewhat insignificant step in thinking outside of the box to solve a problem.  After all, isn't that what design thinking is all about?
I'm  happy to say that our "prototype" worked, and we are set for the conference regardless of the wifi situation.
To step is too small.  Model problem solving for your students so that they, too, become outside of the box thinkers for those larger obstacles down the road.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Technology and Future Teachers

CAPS Innovation Celebration 2017
It seems that I always have some students who come into the classroom and tell me that they either aren't "good" with technology or don't like it.  My response?  "You don't have a choice!"
As a future educator, you are not allowed to make that decision for your students.  One of the great attributes of an entrepreneurial thinker is that he/she is willing to take risks and to think outside of the box.
Students need their teachers to be their role models.  With that comes a responsibility to provide exceptional, timely, and engaging resources that will prepare them for the challenges they will face personally, academically, and professionally in the future.  Students deserve the best there is to give.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Blue Valley CAPS  (Center for Advanced Professional Studies)
Overland Park, KS
I have the privilege of teaching students who are interested in future careers in education!