Learning & Innovation


Learning and Innovation 


When people see the title Learning and Innovation Coach they often wonder what it means, what the responsibilities of the position are, what I do. Many suspect another ed-tech trend that will not last. However, my earliest experience with learning and innovation took place while I was still in the Army in 1992. As a corporal and a squad leader for an infantry unit in the 101st Airborne Division, I was responsible for ensuring my nine guys made their way–in one healthy piece–across the finish line of a 25 mile road march after a three week extended field problem in the wet February winter of South Kentucky. Cooley, one of my guys, was so short (I’m 5’7″/171cm and he looked tiny next to me) he couldn’t match the stride of the other soldiers and kept falling back beyond the three meter interval between soldiers on a march–precipitating the need for everyone behind him to run to catch up every time he was made to hustle forward to mind the gap. Cooley was not making the rest of our 1200-man battalion happy. In response, as his squad leader and a fellow short guy, I paced him and observed his stride: straight-legged and stumpy; slamming his heel into the pavement every step. Diagnosing the problem quickly, I taught him a trick that, while effective, looked ridiculous: squatting like Groucho Marx and shuffling forward with bent knees in long strides that had his helmet gliding smoothly around belt-level on the taller soldiers. At first, he resisted out of pride, but as the reactions to his fallbacks became more and more strident and aggressive, he started to adopt the “Groucho-Walk,” whenever he began to fall behind. Soon, by alternating between his normal stride and the Groucho walk, he ceased falling back altogether and I could return to my own place in the line.

Back at the barracks, while we were sitting on the blacktop of the company parking lot cleaning our rifles, Cooley rushed up to me excitedly and announced to the platoon (pardon the language, it was the Army), “Tolley is one bad… mutha…: he taught me to walk.”

Teaching walking has been my passion ever since.

School Level Applications

Although I maintain that neither learning nor innovation are exclusive to the realm of 21st Century Skills, technology integration or modern learning, much of my work does fall within these parameters. In terms of a practical explanation, upon review of the International School of Curitiba secondary school goals for the past 4 years, one will notice that I either initiated or spearheaded almost half the school’s innovations and development over the past four year. Taken directly from our internal records, these initiatives include, but are not limited to:

  • Fostering a culture of achievement
  • Enhance focus on 21st Century instruction
  • Further 6-12 acquisition of IB Learner Profile’s 10 traits
  • Learning and Innovation Coaching – 6-12
  • Initiate: Critical Analysis Initiative to embed critical thinking skills across the curr
  • Improve: Academic Leadership–21st Century Advisory (9-10)
  • Improve: Professional Learning Communities
  • Improve: Academic Competitions and Opportunities
  • Improve: Use of Flipped-Learning
  • Improve: Use of Project Based Learning
  • Improve: Use of e-Portfolios (6-12)
  • Improve: Use of Writing Portfolios (6-12)
  • Improve: Peer tutoring program
  • Improve: Intergenerational tutoring (tech)
  • Implementation – Maximizing the use of instructional technology:
    • Training in use of grade level and subject area apps
    • Training in use of current software and new tech equipment
    • Increased depth of use of Google apps, Juno and iTunes U
    • Citizen journalism project (ITGS-History online newspaper)


Representation of Learning and Innovation

Another key element of my role as Learning and Innovation Coach includes my responsibility to publish and present innovative materials and methods in order to model modern learning to peers in my local school, educators in my region and members of my worldwide Personal Learning Network. A summary of these activities is provided below and on my publications page.

Regional Presentations on Learning and Innovation

  • AASSA Educator’s Conference 2013: Instructional Technology Integration: A Comprehensive Approach
    • Co-facilitated and designed website and other materials for a presentation on effectively integrating schoolwide instructional technology and professional development schemes.
  • AASSA Educator’s Conference 2014 (forthcoming, March, 2014): Mindsets for Modern Learning presentation and open learning space facilitation
  • AASSA Educator’s Conference 2014 (forthcoming, March, 2014): Blended Learning in the Social Studies Classroom & The 21st Century Advisory


Part 2


School-Level Training Initiatives

  • Initiated a school-wide Professional Learning Community (please see the iTunes U course I developed for our PLC). Sessions included:
    • Introduction to Professional Learning Communities (led)
    • Norms of Collaboration and Community (led)
    • 21st Century Education: Just a fad or the new reality? (led)
    • Mindsets for Modern Learning (led)
    • Differentiated Instruction (facilitated)
    • Interdisciplinary Projects (facilitated)
    • iPad Classroom Management (site) (led)
    • Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) for educators (led)
    • The Paperless Classroom (led)
    • Screencasting 101 and 102 (led)
    • LoTi Evaluation of Technology Integration (led)
    • Open Learning Spaces (coordinated one each year between 2011 and 2013)
    • Instructional Technology Introductions to:
      • Document Cameras (facilitated)
      • Splashtop Whiteboard (facilitated)
      • JunoEd (led)
      • Evernote for students and teachers (led)
      • Jing (facilitated)
      • Camtasia (led)
      • Google Apps (led)
  • Co-facilitated the ISC “Critical Analysis Initiative” with our Curriculum Coordinator
    • Modeled activities and strategies for integrating critical thinking in all secondary discipilines and methods for designing and writing curriculum reflecting these innovations.
  • Regular school-level presenter on technology integration, tech tools, classroom management, instructional techniques and the IB Extended Essay

School-Level Innovations

  • Designed, taught and coordinated “Academic Leadership,” 21st century advisory course (please see my ASCD article on the course)
  • Developed and supervised a school-wide Peer Tutoring program that evolved into one of the school’s primary Tier Two Response to Intervention (RTI) strategies
    • Via the Peer Tutoring program, organized and led Intergenerational Tutoring for parents and members of the school community on school technology
  • As a member of the ISC Tech Tech Force Committee, I was instrumental in the adoption and integration of, and subsequent training in:
    • iPads as our mobile device of choice
    • Google Apps as our school instructional operating platform
    • Jupitergrades and JunoEd
    • iTunes U (I was the first member of the AASSA community to create and publish iTunes U courses)


Examples of Innovative Instructional Materials (sample)

Auth Site

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: