Unleashing Entrepreneurial Spirit Course Crosses Disciplines

e1.jpegEntrepreneurs are known for their ability to seize opportunity and move forward toward their creative and innovative goals, usually taking substantial risks along the way. With skill, they have an ability to keep advancing, pivoting on the path, avoiding obstacles and adjusting to the changing conditions to achieve success. If they don't reach their goal, they learn from the experience and apply that new understanding to the next creative project.

A new Sonoma State course, beginning Aug. 26 and running four sessions called Unleashing the Entrepreneurial will open up dialogue on innovation for participants from a variety of backgrounds. Participants will listen to entrepreneurs from multiple disciplines and then work on their own action plan for their entrepreneurial idea.

The course is a collaboration between the School of Education and the School of Business and Economics at Sonoma State University and ieSonoma.org. The course fee is $50, plus there is an option to register for one continuing education unit. Instructions for payment are at http://www.sonoma.edu/education/ues/index.html. Registration is open.

Here is a taste of what is in store each week in this course:

This session centers on the importance of establishing a compelling vision to guide our actions as educational entrepreneurs and creators.

Discussion Topics:
• How to 'pivot' the way entrepreneurs do, making adjustments along the way toward reaching goals. Almost every great innovator and entrepreneur finds that the initial plan requires adjustment as the work gets underway. How can educators have that kind of flexibility and responsiveness in their environment without losing their way to the goal?
• Be ready to question the norm. Norms are the sometimes subtle 'ways fo doing things' that are often unspoken but can have tremendous influence on how we see things and the productivity of groups and individuals. The ability to see and question the norm is a key skill of entrepreneurial thinkers.
• Consider different perspectives. The skill to of being able to 'switch lenses' and view a situation from other perspectives can open up new approaches and ideas for problem solving.
Guest Speakers:
• Tony Harris, Director, Northwest Prep Charter School, Santa Rosa
• Bonnie Raines, Teacher, Santa Rosa Charter School of the Arts

Working to realize a vision cannot be done alone. Building a strong professional network can help get a plan off the ground, find resources to make that vision sustainable, and help the idea take root and grow. Entrepreneurs are skilled at using networks to build collaboration, partnerships and remove obstacles.

Discussion Topics:
• Building the network--What are the elements of strong personal learning network. How does one leverage digital tools to build their network
• Breaking down silos--it will be important to reach outside of your sphere to build connections outside of your silo to form a truly strategic network. How do you engage the non-education community in your professional network?
• Accessing Resources--how can the network help you access financial, human and material resources, as well as the essential knowledge to make your plan a reality?
• Networked Collaboration--How to recognize and optimize opportunity for collaboration in a professional network? What do you have to offer? What can you expect in return from this dynamic connection?

Guest Speakers:
• Kristen Swanson, a passionate learner, keynote speaker and the author of "Professional Learning in the Digital Age". She is also a founder of the EdCamp movement, adjunct professor at DeSales University, Google Certified Teacher. She has worked as a third grade teacher, RtI Building Leader and Teacher Trainer. She currently works for Bright Bytes to help people learn better using technology.
• Catlin Tucker, Google Certified Teacher, CUE Lead Learner, 9th and 10th grade English language arts teacher at Windsor High School in Sonoma County. She is the author of the book, "Blended Learning for Grades 4-12: Leveraging the Power of Technology to Create a Student-Centered Classroom"

Entrepreneurs face risks when starting a venture, and know that there will be obstacles along the way. What can educators learn from how entrepreneurs adjust plans or strategically maneuver a landscape that could be a minefield? The best entrepreneurs know how to turn those problems into opportunities.

Discussion Topics:
Problem identification and problem solving--Defining the problem in new and different ways is the first creative step in problem solving. Many initiatives fail because people solved the wrong problem.
Failure as a vaccine--If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. How did the first, second or third failure teach you something that can inform your next attempt to realize your vision? How can you start viewing failure as something that makes you stronger and closer to success the next time?

Guest speaker:
Oscar Chavez, recently appointed Assistant Director of Human Services for the County of Sonoma, formerly Executive Director of the Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County. In both his previous work experience and in his current position, Oscar has dedicated himself to establishing strong and positive ties between the County's low wealth neighborhoods, public entities, and the business community in order to raise awareness about the growing education, health, and income disparities that exist in our communities. He is equally committed to finding solutions that get at the root cause of poverty.


Successful entrepreneurs build sustainable business models that can support themselves over time. Educators need to consider sustainability too when building their innovations. And, over time, as the project grows and the environment changes, the innovator needs to be open to receiving feedback and incorporating change to keep what they are doing relevant, true to their vision, and successful.

During this session, participants will share their ideas and action plans based on their collaborative work developed during the course.

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