Mike Lawrence: On Putting Students First, an Innovation Index and Ted Lasso
Mike Lawrence has been the CEO of CUE (Computer Using Educators), the Senior Director of Educator Engagement at PowerSchool, has freelanced as the “Chief Maverick” at Maverick Learning, and currently holds the position of the Education Leadership Executive at JAMF (the standard in Apple Enterprise Management). His enthusiasm and expertise for student-centered learning and technology is unrivaled but never would have been kindled if he hadn’t gotten his start as a High School English teacher.
Five Shows A Day
Mike had a unique perspective when he started out his career as a beloved English Teacher. As an avid theater lover, the school structure seemed to promise the ability to deliver five shows a day by engaging and interacting with a live audience. It enabled him to combine all of his skills, talents, and interests, and soon, he began to notice how technology was an incredible tool to tap into student engagement and deeper learning. He became so interested in it that he applied for a tech grant in his high school. He didn’t know it then, but this was a pivotal moment in crossing the threshold from passion to a career path.
Honor Student Agency
Mike went on to oversee the technology and professional development in various school districts as an administrator, oversaw (along with others) a camp designed to encourage innovative and student-centered educators and administrators at Teacher/Admin/Super Rock Star Camps, and still volunteers at the California Student Media Festival. In our interview, Mike confirmed that he uses every opportunity to honor student agency by using the tools of technology to empower and engage students in the 21st-century classroom. He believes that in order to engage students (and adults) and deliver outcomes, you need to hook into their passions and allow them to have some control over their learning. It certainly worked for him.
Advice For Fellow Innovator Educators
Mike believes strongly in both innovation and investment in leadership. He told our podcast audience that he thinks every district should have an Innovation Index that asks questions such as: How often is the district encouraging students to publish or utilize challenge-based learning? He also has advice for other, ground-breaking educators. If you’re an innovator and breaking things, make sure you’re empowering and raising up other leaders. A focus on student values, growth, and EQ is the sign of a good leader; it’s the difference between Steve Jobs and Ted Lasso. While Jobs was an incredible innovator, he never nailed down how to fully empower others to use their agency. Ted Lasso, on the other hand, was gifted in the celebration and elevation of others. The key to being a successful innovator and educator is emphasizing the importance of raising leaders into the DNA of your organization.
Mike has used his skills and talents in public, non-profit, and now private ventures as the Education Leadership Executive at JAMF. No matter what position Mike has held, his priorities have never shifted. He has used everything he’s ever learned- for the betterment of the integration of technology, student agency, and raising leaders that are empowered to do the same. Listen to the full podcast episode for the personal stories Mike shares that shaped his career.