Challenging the Status Quo (Safely)

At the end of #YRDSBQuest, Michael Fullan told the educators in attendance that they need to go back and challenge the status quo.

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I am documenting the ongoing conversation about how to do this safely.

We rarely talk about it, but in our work, many educators have told us they won’t blog because they are afraid it will show others “what they don’t know”.  They see leaders in education as people who will label them as being inappropriate for leadership roles.

We talk a lot about how we want a growth mindset for our students, yet conversations with aspiring leaders demonstrate that challenging leaders can result in a label – “not moving up in this organization”.

How do we build a system that values challenge to the status quo? How do we challenge the status quo without jeopardizing our careers in the current environment?

Below is the conversation currently developing.  Please add to the conversation and help push our thinking about how we can best effect change – how those wanting to challenge can do so effectively.

You can continue to follow the tweet replies here.  We encourage you to also join the conversation by commenting on the blog.

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In addition, Seth Godin shared this post on his blog this morning:

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Shared by Seth Godin on his blog here:

How Do We Tackle “Crippling Incrementalism”?

Thank you to #YRDSBQuest for streaming keynote presentations and encouraging the sharing of learning on Twitter.  It makes it much easier to learn from a distance.

While working near Thunder Bay on Wednesday, I was able to keep in touch with much of the learning.

I also spent time last Sunday and Monday following the Tweets from the OPC event with Dr. Michael Fullan.  I found some relevant work like this:

But I also worried that leaders were once again embracing a lot of conceptual information, like this:

This year, I am wondering about how we can move learning forward.  I think a lot about Simon Breakspear’s plea for us to get out of the conceptual and into a very clear, specific vision of future practice.

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Original video and comments here:

So after reading all the Tweets from Day 1 of #YRDSBQuest and watching the keynotes streamed, I came to this inquiry question:

I feel as though we have spent a lot of time in Ontario working on “building relationships”, building our emotional intelligence, talking about innovation, talking about 21C, reading books about the secrets of change, drivers, instructional core, sticky ideas and mindsets.

Isn’t it time now to take some action?

“We are now better than fifteen years into the 21st Century and educators are still discussing what role technology plays in education.”

Tom Whitby, My Island View, How Do We Stop Illiterate Educators?

Let’s look at the last bullet on the slide above:

“Ultimately you need people to take charge of their own learning…”

What if we invested in putting a simple, reliable mobile device into the hands of every educator (especially leaders), and provided reliable connectivity, then offered some basic instruction into how to self-direct their learning

…. imagine what would happen if every leader committed to learning and sharing openly, if every educator openly reflected on learning and practice on their own blog/website in a searchable, open way.

Think of the spread of best practice – next practice that could happen if all educators were simply empowered with those simple three things:

  1. A simple, reliable mobile device
  2. Reliable connectivity
  3. Basic instruction on self-directing their learning in open collaborative online environments.

How well would we then understand the critical needs to ensure that our students are able to self-direct their own learning in this world where knowledge is ubiquitous?




See how some Ontario Educators are taking the next steps in self-directing learning:






#FutureLearning – Students Wonder What School Could Be

I was so fortunate to be asked by the students of 3UU at Cameron Heights School in Kitchener, to sit on a panel to discuss with them the Future of Learning.

Here is a wonderful explanation, written by the class, of what their class is about:

“3UU is an extraordinary class, it is a Future Forums style class (a WRDSB initiative) that is worth two credits combining English, Sociology, Anthropology, and Psychology. This class allows us to express the way we learn and present our thoughts in our own personalized way of showing the knowledge we possess (through different mediums, such as videos, class discussions). We learn at different paces and take in information in various ways, therefore it’s easier for us to understand. In this environment, we function in a more self – directed style. Finally, we work more on developing skills that will help us in the future, rather than just focusing on what will help us pass this class.”

This is what they were hoping to achieve:

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from an email from the Cameron Heights school 3UU class, November 16, 2015.

Thank you to teacher Ms. Jamie Reaburn Weir  (who shares her reflections on her work here) for the invitation to join the panel.

Other panellists for the event included:

Geoff Williams

Dean Shareski

Karen Beutler

Brenda Sherry

Mark Carbone

The Storify of the event is here.  The recording is below.

I will add links to all of the mentioned resources later today.



OECD publication – The Case for 21C Learning

What is School For? Stop Stealing Dreams (Seth Godin)







Why Should Educators Understand Social Media?

Educators must understand social media, because this is where our children are:

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Is shutting down the device the answer?

Do our kids, and our teachers, understand how powerful social media can be for LEARNING?

Isn’t it ESSENTIAL for our school and system leaders to be fully digitally literate?

Here is a great guide to digital life for teens.

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This Guide to Life Online is Produced by and available free by clicking on the image.

As school and system leaders in education, how are we preparing our youth to be digital leaders in online environments?

How are we modelling the skills,  aptitudes and behaviours that are appropriate in digital spaces?

Sharing from #BIT15: Heidi Siwak’s Keynote Address

If you were unable to attend Heidi Siwak’s closing keynote at #BIT15 this year, you missed an amazing learning experience.

Let’s see if we can share the important points.

Here is Heidi’s link to the resources.

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Here is the storify of the Twitter chat for the event.

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#BIT15: Principals Leading Innovation with Technology

Principals Leading the Innovative Use of Technology for Learning and Teaching

A session at BIT15 – Bring IT,Together 2015

Thursday 5th November, 2015

11:00am to 11:50am (EST)

Technology is a tool that enables innovative approaches to deep learning and student assessment. As lead learners, how are school leaders across Ontario integrating technology and pedagogy into classroom practice? We will hear from Principals across Ontario who will share how they are successfully leading TELT in their learning environments. We will crowd-source this question prior to and during the presentation, and we will share the stage with principals f2f and through Google Hangout and Skype.

So as a Principal, how are you leading the Innovative Use of Technology for Learning and Teaching?

Share using the hashtag #PVPTELT

Join us at #BIT15 on Thursday, November 5 at 11 a.m.

Thanks to Kim Figliomeni and Katie Maenpaa, Greg Pearson, Lisa Neale and Shannon Smith for sharing with the group.

by Donna Miller Fry (@fryed)


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