The job of an educator is no longer about preparing students for a specific something, but rather to prepare students for anything.
– Amanda Kopischke
Amanda Kopischke has a passion: to reimagine education to better prepare students as they launch into adulthood. In changing the way students are taught, Amanda dreams of educators equipping them with the tools they need to navigate the real world, the ambiguous world we all live in — not just the worlds of algebra and physics and physical education (which, of course, are still important).
Education is not a new interest for Amanda. After earning her BA in Psychology from Bethel University, she went on to pursue her Master of Arts degree in Education from Saint Mary’s University. She then spent time teaching in private and public schools, and served as CEO of the education consulting firm, Charis-Connection.
Her vast experience is what made Amanda aware of the broken system in which students are being educated. Dissatisfied, she set out to change it by launching Incubate to Innovate, a company helping educators transform learning environments using collaboration, creativity, exploration, and innovation to prepare students with 21st-century skills. Through this work, Amanda is exploring what’s possible in the world of education, not just accepting the status quo. This is exploratory leadership in action!
Essentially, Amanda helping teachers approach teaching differently, and the world will be better for it.
One of Amanda’s initiatives is a new platform called ChangeMaker Mighty Network, an online platform providing inspiration, content, community, and courses for educators who want to create social change and widespread impact using innovative design thinking. The network is a movement in the making, but it hasn’t come without its challenges. Amanda is coming to our first Member Morning Series of 2019 to workshop some of the obstacles she has run into and gain insight from the ever-supportive Studio/E community.
We caught up with Amanda to learn a little bit more about her journey and why she’s so passionate about making change.
Why does education need to be reimagined?
While the job market in the United States has changed significantly, PreK-12 classrooms often operate similar to the industrial era of the early 1900s. Students are facing a world that is complex and in flux. Equipping students to navigate ambiguity and rapid change is critical.
What is a common obstacle you see for children to reach their full potential?
The teaching and learning environments in both public and private schools do not give all students a chance to explore and create with opportunities to grow through failure. When students are makers, they come alive and it is magical. When safety is created for students to dream big and ideate without limits, they feel empowered to change the world. And when we give them opportunities to steward all they have discovered and learned by collaborating and connecting outside the school, they realize that the “Power of Together” multiplies impact and changes lives.
Which need does the ChangeMaker Mighty Network meet?
We created the ChangeMaker Mighty Network to help educators overcome loneliness, to resource them in a cost-effective way, and to foster connections to businesses and organizations so that relevant, applicable work opportunities for students could emerge in connection to their educational experience. The platform provides a supportive, dynamic, collaborative learning community that fosters connection and helps teachers learn and grow within a safe environment. And, the network is made up of ChangeMakers from various professions — all willing to leverage their time, talents, and expertise to help reimagine education.
You are given the opportunity to share a message with the entire world. What is it?
Choose to be a ChangeMaker in your sphere of influence. A ChangeMaker is somebody taking creative action to solve a problem in order to make an impact. Then, we can harness the “Power of Together” to multiply our impact.
What is the “Zone of Possibility?”
Much like the Known and Unknown Zones we learn about at Studio/E, the educational world tends to create experiences and establish cultures that are in what we call the “Zone of Predictability.” Inspiring and equipping educators to reframe learning experiences for students means that we would love for them to incrementally spend more time in the “Zone of Possibility,” where:
- Exploration is invited
- Questions are asked
- Freedom and safety are experienced
- Collaboration is encouraged
- Information is discovered
- Ideation and creativity are fostered
- Learning is embraced
Changing the face of education is a mighty goal. Where did you start?
I sat down one day in December of 2017 with my business partner, and we mapped out all of our frustrations about education on a whiteboard. From that exercise, some key themes emerged. We decided we had the choice to either remain frustrated and be miserable or create a solution to the problem. Through this activity, the ChangeMaker Innovation Process™ was born.
What are you reading?
I am reading Empower: What Happens When Students Own Their Learning by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani. I noticed as a kindergarten teacher that when students started school at age 4 or 5, they were naturally curious, willing to explore and discover, and they cared more about asking questions than knowing the right answer. During mid-elementary school, a shift occurs. This book illuminates some of the reasons why this happens and how to overcome it, and it inspires educators to empower students to engage in their learning so they can create meaning versus just getting them to comply.
What is your superpower?
I see who others are turning into and I challenge their potential by inviting them into authentic relationships for growth!
Hear more about Amanda and her quest to reimagine education at our Member Morning Series on Tuesday, February 19, during which she’ll share her journey and tap into the audience for support and wisdom.
This program is for active Studio/E members. Not a member? Visit our website to learn more about membership opportunities.