Demonstrating a Shared Culture of Innovation - One Classroom at a Time

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Elevate - Amplify - Play


Making School Different

High Tech High in San Diego showed us that other ways are possible with respect to education. Students can be given rich experiences where they look deeply at a topic and create truly imaginative pieces that showcase their own unique understanding. We like to think about how we can “Make School Different”, and we would very much like to have those discussions with you.

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Yes, and…

Second City taught us the language of “yes, and…”, which means building on each other’s ideas to create something even more great. When you encounter a roadblock, who can you creatively navigate and keep going using “yes, and…”. How can you validate and build on your team’s ideas using “yes, and…”. How can you empower students to take the lead in their own education using “yes, and…”?

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Building Community

Innovation requires a specific skill set. We’ve learned that it is a skill set that can be taught. However, to teach it well, certain conditions must be met within the classroom. The key condition is that of a safe and inclusive community. Building that community isn’t something that can happen in one day, or if certain activities are completed. Community is something that grows and changes over time, with input from all stakeholders. For a positive community to thrive, it must start being built from day one.

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Taking Risks

Innovators are risk takers, there is no doubt about that. We know that innovation skills won’t develop if individuals don’t feel like their own risks are supported. A culture of risk taking needs to be supported and those taking the risks need to feel like they have some degree of permission. As well, they should feel protected should their particular risk happen to fail. They need support in navigating the policies that pertain to them. Finally, we’ve recently realized that all involved need to feel that there is a sense of play to their work.

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Today’s classrooms.
Tomorrow’s ideas.


What is Innovation?

In February of 2017, this was the big question we were asking ourselves. We were freshly hired to “demonstrate a shared culture of innovation” within the Halton District School Board. What did that even mean?

So we started our journey, asking lots of people who were smarter than us what exactly defines innovation. We knew that if we wanted others to join us in our learning, we needed to show our own ability to take risks and be vulnerable. The Shift was born when we launched our blog and started visiting other classes in the school board.

There was an appetite for trying new things, which was never more apparent than when we were joined by Second City to explore how attitudes can help drive teaching. Yes, and…how can we go bigger? We kept digging, determining that community building is the first step in creating spaces that are inviting and safe for everyone.

But still we wonder, what exactly is innovation?