Tag Archives: innovation

Theory Into Action: #supdsb

We talk a lot about how the world is changing.  We hear predictions that concern us for awhile, then we go back to our jobs.

But here we are: “Every single job function we can identify is being fundamentally transformed.”

(David Rose, in D. Culberhouse, The Future Will Be Very Different)

Continuing to do what we are doing now is a disservice to our children.

But how do we change?

We know three things that are essential:

  1. Creating the compelling argument for change (Creative Public Leadership, The RSA)

On March 29, I was privileged to learn with educators from Superior North Catholic District School Board and Superior Greenstone District School Board.

The TELT (Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching) Contacts understand the need to create a compelling argument for innovative practice to ensure all of our students are empowered to learn to thrive in their world.  George Couros, author of The Innovator’s Mindset, was invited to lead the learning for the day.

You can find a summary of the learning here and on Twitter using the hashtag #supdsb.

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SGDSB TELT Contact Stacey Wallwin (@wallwins) welcoming George Couros (@gcouros), thanking him for his support in the recent online study of his recent book, The Innovator’s Mindset.


2. Build Community

It was a very special day that focused on building capacity in our communities.

Educators from both English-speaking boards learned together in the same room.  In my experience, formal professional learning rarely involves co-terminus boards learning together, but we know that together we are better and this event was living proof.

Educators from SNCDSB and SGDSB sat together at tables, sharing learning from the day and building a learning network for the future.

SNCDSB TELT Contact Katie DiBiagio cheers on SGDSB Director Dave Tamblyn as he competes with SNCDSB Director Alexa MacKinnon, cheered on by George Couros.
SNCDSB TELT Contact Katie DiBiagio cheers on SGDSB Director Dave Tamblyn as he competes with SNCDSB Director Alexa McKinnon, cheered on by George Couros.


3. Flatten the Organization

How often as educators do we participate in professional learning events with only those in like-roles?

At this event, both Directors were present for the full day of learning.  Sitting at the tables were superintendents, teachers, community engagement leaders, tech champions, school leaders,  digital learning volunteers, IT staff and guests.

From DCluberhouse, https://dculberh.wordpress.com/2014/11/01/from-disconnected-hierarchies-to-connected-ecosystems/
From DCluberhouse, https://dculberh.wordpress.com/2014/11/01/from-disconnected-hierarchies-to-connected-ecosystems/


If we are going to innovate in 2016, we need to entrench practices that enable the flow of ideas.

Congratulations to SNCDSB and SGDSB for putting theory into practice, for putting learning ahead of false boundaries, and for taking some big leaps toward entrenching innovative thinking into professional practice..

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SNCDSB TELT Contact Katie DiBiagio, George Couros, SNCDSB Director Alexa McKinnon.


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Resources for the day



Yes, Your Child Will Thrive in 2016 and Beyond

As education leaders, how do we convince our parent communities, our Trustees, our students themselves, of this (7)?

Because this really is the most important measure of accountability isn’t it? That this school, this system, is the very best place for your child to learn on this day (4), and this school and this system is innovating in every way possible to ensure your child’s gifts are uncovered, nurtured, scaffolded and unleashed.

Mary Jean Gallagher tells us that schools must be places where children can realize their “best possible, most richly-imagined future” (Jan. 17, 2014, Toronto)

As an education leader (6), what compelling arguments do you have for the innovative practices – foreign to parents who experienced the linear, industrial model of school – being used to personalize learning for their child?

We know that compelling arguments are a critical first step  for change.  Without compelling arguments (2), traditionalists will shut down, stop listening (3), move on down the same path of a system that produces a ranking of individuals, filtering those who are different out of the picture.

Do you talk to parents about how the popular narrative that “robots are taking over the world” isn’t something they can just ignore any more, that good jobs really have already disappeared offshore and to automation through robotics and 3D printers (5)?  This is why we educate our students to take advantage of the cognitive opportunities that arise when menial work becomes mechanized and digitized.

Perhaps the argument that the school system as they knew it, did not achieve positive outcomes for all children, and that disengagement (1) in secondary school is a national tragedy that must be changed, would resonate with your community.

Perhaps the democratization of the system is most important – creating a school community where all members have voice and choice that is not constrained by outdated structures like timetables and limited course selections.

How do you share what you know about innovative practice with your school community? Do you learn openly, share openly, question openly?

Sharing your compelling arguments with other leaders may be the best step you can take today to help spread system change.

Communicating effectively about the need for radical change is critical role for our education leaders.



Featured image by Tina Zita via Royan Lee CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0

References and Resources:


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From Will Richardson, We’re Trying to do the Wrong Thing Right in Schools, March 17, 2016 http://willrichardson.com/


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From Creative Public Leadership, World Innovation Summit for Education, March 2016 https://www.thersa.org/globalassets/pdfs/reports/creative-public-leadership.pdf



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From Creative Public Leadership, World Innovation Summit for Education, March 2016 https://www.thersa.org/globalassets/pdfs/reports/creative-public-leadership.pdf



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From Cathy Montreuil, address to Ontario’s new P/VPs, March 2016 https://storify.com/fryed/adm-cathymontreuil-speaks-to-new-pvps-in-onted



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From Robot-Proof, How Colleges Can Keep People Relevant in the Workplace, by Joseph Aoun: http://chronicle.com/article/Robot-Proof-How-Colleges-Can/235057


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From Creative Public Leadership, World Innovation Summit for Education, March 2016 https://www.thersa.org/globalassets/pdfs/reports/creative-public-leadership.pdf




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From The Roosevelt Institute: Creative Schools for a Thriving Economy 2015 http://rooseveltinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Hallgarten-Creative-Schools-for-a-Thriving-Economy.pdf




Creative Public Leadership: Building a Powerful Case for Change

Early this morning, The RSA posted this report release on Twitter:

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In the report, they set out nine first steps in moving to an education system that creates the innovators needed for today’s world.

Step 1 is Building the case for change.

For those who have been in this business of change for many years, it is a struggle to understand why many leaders don’t see the urgency.

This section from page 8, the Executive Summary, explains the situation with such clarity:

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Page 8, Creative Public Leadership https://www.thersa.org/globalassets/pdfs/reports/creative-public-leadership.pdf

Over the past few years, many leaders have told me that as soon as someone starts talking about 21C, or innovation, or technology, or the 6 C’s, they tune out.  It doesn’t interest them and they don’t see the value.

For those who have heads that hurt from hitting them against the brick walls of hierarchy, remember the Randy Pausch quote:


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Creative leadership requires more than courage, more than dedication.  It requires passion and purpose, so don’t give up.

It also requires an understanding of how to carefully defend your position, to find value in your stance, and to clearly communicate that value to those who can make a difference.

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p. 59, Creative Public Leadership: https://www.thersa.org/globalassets/pdfs/reports/creative-public-leadership.pdf

Page 60 of the report suggests first steps for building that case.

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Page 60, The RSA, Creative Leadership https://www.thersa.org/globalassets/pdfs/reports/creative-public-leadership.pdf

What a great focus for our work – building a case for change.

Why is it critical to create innovators?  Why is it, that a school system designed to build a standardized work force, is not creating the conditions for learning needed for young people in a world where robotics and offshore/global competition have eliminated most manufacturing jobs?

How do we convince leaders to  prepare our kids to seize the opportunities that arise when all menial work can be done by machines?

We need creative public leaders who can build this convincing case for change – before we become completely irrelevant.

Featured image from TheRSA.org


Connecting with the Disconnected – Chris Wejr

Tom Whitby: What is an “Accomplished Administrator” in education?

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Kinds of School Leaders

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What Does Innovation Mean to Me? BlogHop for #InnovatorsMindset

This post is part of a blog hop on innovation.  Details can be found here.


Innovation in Education is…

For me, innovation in education has two parts:

a) successfully navigating barriers to create an inclusive, participatory, and responsive learning environment for everyone, and

b) building relationships to successfully and collaboratively break down those barriers to innovation.

We can’t wait for the barriers to come down.  Learning needs are too urgent.  We need to work around the barriers to meet those learning needs.

But at the same time, we can’t stop working to bring those barriers down, in a way that is supported by our community of learners.


Innovation requires connections.  Education 3.0 is all about connections.  More connections means more ideas, which leads to better ideas (Crowd accelerated innovation).

Shared by Dr. Jackie Gerstein under a CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 license https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/experiences-in-self-determined-learning-moving-from-education-1-0-through-education-2-0-towards-education-3-0/
Shared by Dr. Jackie Gerstein under a CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 license https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/experiences-in-self-determined-learning-moving-from-education-1-0-through-education-2-0-towards-education-3-0/

What are the Barriers?

CEA recently looked at barriers to change in education.

  • The system values kids who fit the mould.  They do school or they leave school.


  • Time (scheduled classes) is a constraint on learning – experiential learning, without the constraints of time, is what we often remember as valuable


Image shared by Lisa Neale, Principal, Ancaster Senior Public School
Image shared by Lisa Neale, Principal, Ancaster Senior Public School
  • Confining physical spaces – having to learn in specific places.
  • Competition at all levels is negative – competition among students, competition among schools, competition among school districts (e.g., which of 4 boards in Ontario will you enrol you child in?)


  • Competition limits spread of ideas because there is value in a higher ranking.  Sharing makes it more difficult to win, yet ideas are needed for innovation.


  • Fear of being judged.  This is a pervasive response from both students and educators.  Has “growth mindset” thinking made a difference?  We can’t do amazing things with kids without the courage to get over the fear of being judged.


  • Creative risk takers?  We need innovative leaders, yet rarely are creative risk takers seen  as leaders in education.


Shared by Karl Baron under a CC-BY-2.0 license.
Shared by Karl Baron under a CC-BY-2.0 license.

One of the biggest barriers to innovation in education is that the two-digit number that represents children, and where they rank among their peers, determines the learning they will have access to in the future.

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Shared by Dean Shareski under a CC-BY-NC-2.0 license.

We decide on the available education paths by the average mark on the school report card.

When you create a system where a mark determines a future, you can’t ever make it about something else.

Learning to work around and through barriers, while maintaining positive relationships, is successful educational innovation – making the learning needs of all our students the true priority.

Shared by Andrew Forgrave under a CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 licence.
Shared by Andrew Forgrave under a CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 licence.


Some other thinking about Innovation from Ontario Educators:

Stacey Wallwin

Jennifer Casa-Todd

Tina Zita

Paul McGuire

Patrick Miller

Mark Carbone

Check out more at OSSEMOOC!

*Featured Image created by Tina Zita


CEA: Innovation means giving up control

CEA: Sources of Innovation (Stephen Hurley)










Afraid to be Wrong

Over the past few days, mostly while shovelling snow, I have been listening to one particular podcast from the CBC Ideas Program: Knowledge and Democracy.

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 7.29.04 AM The program examines the interaction between science and society, looking at the “position” of the discipline “science” in a democracy.

It is of particular interest to me because of our  recent experiences with a government that chose to muzzle scientists and withdraw support from scientific inquiry.

The podcast is a combination of a talk given by Harry Collins at Memorial University in Newfoundland, and a conversation he had with Paul Kennedy.

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It raises important questions about the position of science in society.  I recommend it to anyone interested in how science is perceived in our society, and particularly for those advocating for science instruction and literacy in our public school system.

One sentence that resonates this morning is, “Would I prefer a society where people expose their ideas to criticism, or where they hide them away so nobody can tell them that they are wrong?“.

In our work with open learning, we often hear that education leaders are afraid to openly share their learning – to be “lead learners” – because it will expose what they don’t know.

Schooling promotes this thinking – that it is better to hide your ignorance.  It is very challenging to shift people who excelled in  school – many who then entered schooling as a profession – into believing that it is better to share ideas than to hide them.

How do we create the conditions in our public education system that encourage leaders to be learners, and to openly share their learning with others?

If we want “innovation”, we need to embrace ideas.

The only way to have great ideas, is to have a lot of ideas.

If our school culture values ‘being right’ more than it values learning, we can’t be innovative.




Are we All Scientific Experts Now? (by Harry Collins)

Ideas with Paul Kennedy: Knowledge and Democracy

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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.

The Key to Innovative Practice? More Ideas!

For a long time in Ontario, we have relied heavily on standardized test results, and the tested ideas and strategies grounded in research to inform our educational practice.

But does this kind of thinking short-change our kids?

Dr. Chris Dede talks about the importance of spreading pockets of excellence and adapting successful practice into our context.

In “Great to Excellent: Launching the Next Stage of Ontario’s Education Agenda“, Michael Fullan stated (p. 12)

“What Ontario educators and leaders have accomplished in the last nine years is truly remarkable and impressive on a world scale. Yet it is also disturbingly precarious without the focused innovation required for excellence.”

How do we accelerate the use of innovative practices in our classrooms?

In Eureka! Mapping the Creative Mind,  we learn that one of the best ways to have a great idea is to have lots of them (Linus Pauling).

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Shared under a Creative Commons attribution license by Celestine Chua


Chris Anderson argues that Crowd Accelerated Innovation results from our ability to access a global community of ideas online.  “Radical openness” works to spread ideas.  Innovation emerges as groups of people “bump up” the best ideas.

Our reality is that we are part of a global community.

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The role of a teacher is to ensure that ever single child in the classroom is learning.  Teachers are researchers, searching for the best practices to meet the learning needs of each child.  Focused, disciplined innovation results from modifying and adapting strategies and ideas that have been successful in other contexts.

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Isn’t it important, then, that all teachers know how to effectively access, and contribute to, the global community of ideas?