NNSTOY Innovation: Living in a World of Why? How? and What’s Next?

By Michelle Pearson

I live in a house filled with geeks. Go ahead and laugh, but it’s really the truth. On top of that, my house is always in a bit of chaos, constantly in motion with three boys, three border collies and a very patient husband. The only calm one is our turtle, who just shakes his head and then hides in his shell if it is a little too crazy.

The teenage boys can down 12 gallons of milk in a week, single-handedly polish off a loaf of bread making grilled cheese sandwiches (in one sitting), and lose every available black band sock before band competition. But they are innovative. They can fix almost anything, and they solve complex problems with little help. My boys accomplish this because they have flat out mastered inquiry skills. And they’ve trained their teacher mom to be ready with good answers to these three questions BEFORE bringing something up over dinner: WHY? HOW? and WHAT’S NEXT?

(left to right) Drew, Connor and Alex Pearson

(left to right) Drew, Connor and Alex Pearson

I tell this story because when I think about the current landscape of education in this country, it looks a whole lot like my household. It’s chaotic. Millions of ideas get floated around so that sometimes it’s scary to be a teacher. At the same time our profession is filled with educators who have immense passion and love for learning, who are deep thinkers and creative problem solvers. As a teacher leader I have had to find a way to navigate confusion and chaos so that I not only survive, but I can feed my practice with great ideas and advocate for what is right for teacher and student learning.

This is why I value NNSTOY. NNSTOY brings calm to the overwhelming world of teacher leadership, learning and advocacy. One way the organization does this is by approaching educational challenges with innovative and creative solutions. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong with education, ou

The Pearson Border Collies: Skye, Angus and Kolby

The Pearson Border Collies: Skye, Angus and Kolby

r members work to understand WHY methods and strategies work (or don’t work). The association provides educators with exceptional research to guide us to try new and innovative approaches, many of which have been designed by teachers within our network.

NNSTOY also supplies the HOW by providing strategies to empower educators to make learning even more meaningful. They seek out cutting edge solutions to the challenges we face as teacher-leaders and work collaboratively with us to help solve them through webinars, Twitter chats, online forums, research projects, flash polls, blog articles, newsletters stocked with powerful resources, and powerful annual conferences.

Most importantly, NNSTOY never tells teacher leaders what we should do; instead, they give us the research, connections and opportunities to learn, collaborate and celebrate so that we can be innovative in our practice. They empower us to figure out what we will do to transform learning for our students and our profession. We control our “WHAT’S NEXT.”

One of my heroes, Neil deGrasse Tyson, once said, “I don't know anybody who said, 'I love that teacher, he or she gave a really good homework set,' or 'Boy, that was the best class I ever took because those exams were awesome.' That's not what people want to talk about. It's not what influences people in one profession or another.”

NNSTOY gets this. They put their words in action, and they influence educators by helping us to reflect on the WHY of our practice, on the HOW of learning, and by letting us design what is next in our classrooms. I support NNSTOY because in our quest to be innovative educators, we are supported by an innovative network of professionals who help us makes a real difference in the chaotic world of education.

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