How to become a teacher who innovates


Teaching | Monday, February 1, 2016

How to become a teacher who innovates

Have you ever thought, "I'm not one of those innovative, creative teachers?" Innovation is a skill. Build it like a muscle. Here are some ideas. (Sketch by Matt Miller)

Have you ever thought, “I’m not one of those innovative, creative teachers?” Innovation is a skill. Build it like a muscle. Here are some ideas. (Sketch by Matt Miller)

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’m just not one of those innovative teachers. Creative ideas don’t just pop into my head.”?

This post and this video are for you.

(Know someone who thinks that? Maybe you can pass this along to him/her.)

I’ve felt this way most often at teaching conferences. I’ll sit in on a presentation where a teacher is doing something phenomenal … leveraging technology or engaging students or changing how we think about education.

I’ll think, “How in the world did he/she get to that point? I could never do that.”

Then I’ll think, “I’m doing a disservice to my students because I’m not doing that.”

Both of those last two statements are untrue (of me, of you, of all of us). And they can both do a lot of damage.

Changing things up in your classroom happens in small steps, much like any other change.

And, as you’ll see in this video, you don’t have to be a genius to do innovative things in class.

Check out this video (it’s only 90 seconds long) about innovating in the classroom. If it resonates with you, would you share it with someone?

I’m thinking about making more of them. (I’m kind of going out on a limb here, since this isn’t anything I’ve really done before!)

So …

Would you let me know what you think of the message and/or the idea of creating videos for you in these posts? Please tell me in a comment below. Thanks!

How I did it: In case you’re wondering, here are the steps I took to create this video …

1. I drew the images in the Paper app by FiftyThree (the same app I use to create sketchnotes at conferences I attend). I think I drew about 60 different images, all progressions leading through the video. (The first image was the gray circle in the background and the tagline in the bottom left.)

2. Once all the images were drawn, I moved them over to my video editing program of choice, Camtasia Studio. (iMovie or Windows Movie Maker or WeVideo would all work too.) I edited the length of time each image would show on screen so it flowed the way I wanted.

3. I produced the video in an MP4 file without sound and uploaded it to my YouTube channel.

4. I used the YouTube Creator Studio video editor to add Creative Commons music to the video. (Pro tip: Check the box to see only songs that are as long as your video so you don’t have to chop the end off a song!)

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  • Random Name says:

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  • Tori says:

    I love this! I also appreciate that I don’t NEED to have the volume up to know what the video is saying. And the message resonated with me too. I often feel like, regardless of what I do or try, I am still not “enough” for my students – not innovative enough, energetic enough, etc. But you are right. Being innovative is subjective and innovation looks different for each person. While I may look to one strategy as a daily approach, it may be new and innovative for someone else and vice versa. Thanks for sharing!

  • Amy Marquez says:

    I did really like the video! I like that you told me it was only 90 sec because I was thinking ummm I’m not up for watching something long right now. But when you told me 90 sec I was like I have time for that. I do have one suggestion. I’m viewing on the phone and I think the text needed to be either larger or bolder in some parts… I found myself squinting to see it. Please make more. Also I really appreciate you explaining how you did the video! It makes me want to try! I liked the message of the video, I see all these innovative people on Twitter. That is a great place for inspiration. For a long time I just lurked. Then I started trying some of those new ideas and 💡 I began to feel innovate and I wanted to share out. Keep it up!

  • VaneB says:

    Loved the video! It is one of those shorts with lots of valuable info. Keeping in mind that Innovations is like a muscle you need to train is something that will help you improve little by little. Persistence is the key!

  • Veronica Enriquez says:

    I love it! It is short, to the point and encouraging.

  • Rasa Conklin says:

    I enjoyed your innovative teacher video. Just seeing the phrase
    helped me realize that I too can consider myself innovative.

    Thank you for including the instructions on how I can create a short video myself.

    Love your book!

  • Kevin Zahner says:

    I enjoyed the video, Matt. Great resource to use for PD.

    – Kevin

  • Joyce says:

    I love the 90 second video, and the easy way it was created and that you told us how we could do it ourselves!
    I’m going to try it in my new classroom!
    Thank you for encouraging us out here in the desert…so we don’t feel alone!

  • Ted says:

    Yes I am that teacher who says I’m not creative. Thanks for the encouragement and keep the videos coming.

  • Rich says:

    Although I understand what you’re saying, I’m not sure I agree. Most often, what we like is what agrees with our biases. It has always been my habit to read and test research which seems promising for my classroom. That has involved trying new things, to be sure, but quite often requiring me to make significant shifts in my attitudes and habits. While I applaud your ability and interest in developing new delivery skills and respect all teachers who have a full toolbag, I see possessing those skills as secondary to careful student assessment and the development of appropriate tasks for student learners.

    • Matt Miller says:

      Rich, I like what you say here. Assessment and appropriate tasks are definitely key. I’m not suggesting that innovating and giving creative delivery of content are of top importance. I know that they’re able to reach some students in ways that traditional delivery might not. You’re 100 percent correct, though … good solid pedagogy trumps engagement tactics or flashy technology. Good, solid teaching and learning should be the center. Thanks for helping to refocus this discussion.

  • Misty says:

    Love the video! Thanks also for sharing how you made it!

  • Mike Petty says:

    It looks great! Thanks for sharing the process. I think it’s a good method for students to use too.

    My only suggestion would be for you to narrate it rather than using text. It might actually be easier than typing on all the frames. It’s just my opinion, but I always prefer listening to these types of animated slideshows rather than reading them.

    I’ll be sure to share this with teachers. Thanks again!

  • Mary Ottenwess says:

    I love the video and am planning on sharing it with our teachers. I hear the comment “I’m not an idea person” or “I’m overwhelmed with all of this technology” all the time. This is perfect and something I’ve been telling my teachers to do. Start small, pick one idea you like and try that, etc. Keep making these and thanks for sharing how you did it as well.

  • Deb Sachs says:

    Thanks for the inspiration, Matt! And, thanks for the explanation of how you made the video. I appreciate you sharing you time and talent!

  • Laurie doran says:

    The message is great, but I love that you used paper 53 to create the video. That is something I can borrow to get more video in my studio arts class. Thanks for helping me innovate.

  • Rachel Merhebi says:

    Love the video and the topic is very close to my heart – I used to say “I’m not creative” and now I don’t.

  • Kevin O'Donnell says:

    I liked the video and the description of how you did it. Love all your posts so keep up the great work!

  • Frau Davis says:

    I enjoyed the video. I definitely wouldn’t mind watching a short video in lieu of a blog post now and then. What really sparked my interest was seeing you describe how you made it. I know you’ve covered most of the topics before, but I am in such admiration of other teachers/people using YouTube for educational videos. If I didn’t focus so much on TPRS I think I would be doing a lot more with making my own videos. Perhaps I can try making one next time we have e-learning or a sub or at my next conference….

  • I love the positive message of the video, it ties in nicely with growth mindset which applies as much to teachers as it does to students. Thanks also for sharing how you made it, very helpful.
    The only thing I would change is that after the teacher borrows an idea from someone I think to be innovative they need to change it, even in some small way and I don’t think that was clear in the video. Just borrowing or using ideas from others isn’t innovative in itself, it is when that idea is adapted and teachers make it their own that innovation comes into play. The change doesn’t need to be much and is certainly achievable for all.
    Keep the videos coming. 🙂

  • […] sure how I got there) for Ditch That Textbook by Matt Miller and today the blog post was titled: How to become a teacher who innovates. Which seemed a tad heavy handed but hey sometimes things happen like that. While not a definitive […]

  • Jan Cox says:

    I love the encouragement from the video! I’m also glad you included the summary of how you made it. I am just beginning to explore making my own videos, so next I’m going to check out the Paper app you mentioned. Thanks for everything you do! I learn a lot of great stuff from your site.

  • Liz Hoppe says:

    You know what I love most about this video? It reaches out to the teacher who is intimidated by tech/innovation. So often, I see “drink from the fire hose” and “everyone is doing amazing stuff” messages (which are, of course, awesome). It makes me concerned that the gap is getting wider… the go getters are going to go get and get and get, while the ones who need some hand holding, so to speak, may just stay in their comfort zone because the risk becomes more and more insurmountable.

    YES!! Please more!

  • Karen Bosch says:

    The video is very neat. I love the simple way you combined the sketchnotes to make an animation! My students have been working with sketchnotes, and I am going to show them the video as an example for a future project. Looking forward to hearing you at the MACUL conference in March!

  • Jenny says:

    Matt, I love it! This will be great at the beginning of a PLC when we are strategizing about how to use new strategies.

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