Voices of E-Learning: The TFA Reinvention Lab

Mike Yates is a man of many interests. As the Senior Managing Director of Strategy for the TFA (Teach for America) Reinvention Lab, he gets to flex both sides of his brain to tap into those interests to broaden the scope of TFA’s mission. He spoke with Voices of E-Learning’s JW Marshall and Leena Marie Salah about his exciting role within the Reinvention Lab.

Teach for America sends young educators into low-income neighborhoods to teach for two years and gives these folks a tremendous leadership opportunity early in their careers. And The Reinvention Lab was born out of the need to, well, reinvent itself. TFA can’t make change happen without going through an organizational transformation itself.

“I love to do things other people think won’t work,” Yates said. “The Reinvention Lab gives Yates the space to experiment. “It’s not the watch me do it thing. I do take it as a challenge.” Some of the ideas Yates comes up with are centered around doing things to make people within TFA think differently about the possibilities of learning, partnership, branding, and art in new and exciting ways.

One of the things Yates feels most passionate about is TFA’s ability to show young college graduates interested in education that there is a world of opportunity to take their passions beyond the classroom. “One of my goals in life is to free as many teachers as possible from the matrix,” Yates said. “Not necessarily in ways that make you leave the classroom but expand the way you think about learning or expand the way you think about human beings. I hope to do that for people.”

Motivation is the key to unlocking the learning potential of today’s youth. Finding what motivates kids takes innovation and driving those initiatives within TFA is what Yates loves about his work at The Reinvention Lab.

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