Episode #94: Empowering Learners by Innovating inside the Box with George Couros

By Barbara Bray

Join Barbara Bray in conversations with awesome educators, leaders, and influencers as they talk about their passion and purpose for planting seeds for change. Each podcast has a link to a related blog post with more information and resources.

George Couros is an “Innovative Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Consultant”, speaker, as well as the author of “The Innovator’s Mindset” and “Innovate Inside the Box.”  Formerly, he was the Division Principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning with Parkland School Division, located in Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada, and has over 20 years of experience as an educator, in a myriad of roles from K-12.
Your background 
I am originally from the small town of Humboldt, Saskatchewan and my parents are originally immigrants from Greece. I am the youngest of four, and my brother, Dr. Alec Couros, is also in the field of education. We work closely together through our social networks to help build environments that best meet the needs of students in a continuously changing environment. I believe in the power of students, and that all of the children we can teach can be leaders if we help them find their passion. My parents came from a country that was going through a war and did not have the resources or the same opportunities that we had for education. They stressed the importance of education for their kids, and are my inspiration in my career as an educator and learner. Although my parents were born in a different time than I was, we have the exact same goal in our lives; we want it better for our kids than it was for us.
Your family
I was lucky enough to marry my best friend (Paige Couros), who is an elementary school teacher (and the best mom in the world!) who always keeps me grounded and reminds me how complex a teacher’s job is. We welcomed our beautiful daughter Kallea into the world in August of 2016  I believe that we must continuously “sharpen the saw” by taking part in other pursuits.  I love being active by running, participating and watching sports and am a HUGE fan of the Los Angeles Lakers.  In fact, I have two dogs now that are named after a current and former Laker (Odom and Cooper).
Your journey as an educator
I was teaching several years. I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher and thought the interview for my first job went well. During the interview, they kept asking about a website I created called “Electronic Media Communication Officer.” They called my right after and told me they loved the interview but we decided to go with someone else. Later, I phoned the superintendent and asked if I could get some feedback from the interview since I was new to the profession.
Surprisingly, they were going to call me that day because they just had a high school technology teacher position open up. I had no interest in high school or teaching technology. My supervising teacher told me it was hard to get a job. Take the job but make sure you do very well. So I took this HS technology job not knowing what I was doing. I knew some stuff but, if I didn’t, I asked the students. I learned a ton from the students. It really shifted my perspective on education. The teacher is not the sole source of information. How do I create an environment where I actually learn from students as well so we become smarter as a whole? Teaching that one technology class had me think different even when I taught in every level. It shifted my thoughts about teaching when I was an administrator and even today. 
I was the funniest person to grade 2 children probably because I was tall.
CUE 2017 Keynote
When did you go into administration?
I became this tech guy and that was always a focus. So I applied for a Tech Coordinator job and I didn’t get it. Then an assistant principal job came up. I applied, got an interview with Archie, the principal, and we were arguing.