Posts tagged Future
What Does Success Look Like?
Matt and I are fast approaching our one year anniversary in this role.  When we started, last February, with the roughest of plans.  We were going to demonstrate how the Halton District School Board is building a shared culture of Innovation.  How we did that was left, for the most part, up to us.  No pressure.

We both really wanted to create our own Podcast, but some advice from Phil Davison and Cindy Cosentino led us to believe that it might be better to start with a Blog first.  So we dove in, blogging and then eventually launching our “Case For Innovation…” video series, followed by a few Calls to Action.  We’ve Shifted at The Barn, we’ve presented at conferences both inside and outside Halton, we’ve been vulnerable and silly.  In short, we’ve tried our best to put our own individual learning on display.



Matt and I have a lot of fun in this role.  We have a very fluid “to-do” list that gets pretty fuzzy around the edges.  With lots of balls in the air it’s sometimes tough to judge if we are making progress.  Most days we spend our afternoons together talking about what to post next, or perhaps we plan an upcoming visit to a classroom.  We worry about how to create more secondary conversations, both on and off the blog.

Matt turned to me the other day and asked, “If we keep doing this, what does success look like in three years?”

To say I was shook up would be an understatement, because I don’t know what our success might look like.  Many subscribers to our blog and lots of views on our videos would be nice, but that in an of itself doesn’t make us successful.  

We’ve learned that Innovation is a process that leads to improvements to a product, process or understanding.  

Given that definition of Innovation and that you are here reading this blog because (hopefully) you want to improve something in your practice, I’m curious what success might look like to you?  If you follow along with us for the next little while, what would your success criteria be?  How would you know if you shifted your practice?

In the end, my own personal success criteria is a moving target and I’m ok with that.  I want to Make School Different and in three years time I’ll be happy if I can look back and see that change.  I’d also be alright with us making a podcast or two.
Shift Your [Blank]

earlybird_shiftkey.jpgSo, we have nearly made it!  Another year down.  Hopefully you have been reading the blog (heck, you are now at least!) and you have been thinking about ways that you’d like to experiment, to push, to shift.  The end of the school year, however is a bit of a tricky time to implement big changes.  Well, how about connecting with fellow shifters a little bit before the next school year ramps up?  We are offering you a chance to “Shift Your [Blank]”, a summer symposium on Thursday, August 24th.   It will be a chance to connect, think about some ways to shift your _____ for the upcoming school year.  There will be a free lunch and Shift swag to boot. So, what do you say?  Want to shift gears with us and start dreaming about September?  We know, it is a tricky thing to think ahead to August, but the early Shifter gets the worm.  Open to All Secondary Teachers.  Register Here to Embrace the Shift!





shiftyourblank.jpg
How to Create a 21st Century Classroom
I spent last Friday morning presenting with Joanne Eliuk at the Canadian Safe Schools Network 20/20 Conference.  This conference, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Safe Schools Network had a focus on Technology and Digital Citizenship, Diversity and Inclusion and Health & Wellness.  While we were identified as being a workshop that fit into the "Technology and Digital Citizenship" focus, what keeps being reinforced the more we dialogue with educators is that these practices are all interconnected. It all comes down to the relationship we develop with our students and how that relationship can help students learn and grow that creates a 21st century classroom.

Joanne and I gave a presentation on The 21st Century Classroom.  This was a presentation we’ve given before at Halton’s Innovation and Technology Symposium in the fall.  At that time, our presentation highlighted our own “Ten Easy Steps” and then some points within those steps for an educator to consider.

This time, Joanne and I decided to take away the points from our presentation and just provide the steps.  We did this for a few reasons; we wanted a more informal presentation, we were hoping for more discussion, we wanted to be able to field questions more easily.  However, the biggest reason we changed our format was because we believe that there are big picture philosophies that go into a 21st Century classroom but also that the way each teacher dives into those philosophies is different.  Again, as in our classrooms, what we noticed is that the more you allow people to explore their own ideas, the more our understanding grows as well.

Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.  Everyone has different ways they can effect change in their classrooms or schools.  What works for me might not always work for someone else, and vice versa.  Once you peel back the day to day strategies that are used and look at the deeper thinking that goes into a 21st Century Classroom, you’ll see aspects of our “easy steps”.

So what do we identify as the steps needed to make a 21st Century Classroom?

  1. Make the classroom student centered
  2. Create an environment that is invitational
  3. Teach students how to take responsibility
  4. Ask students to be reflective
  5. Have a culture that promotes inquiry
  6. Make the learning adaptive
  7. Have assessment that is performance based
  8. Make your assessment transparent
  9. Mentor your students
  10. Integrate technology

On Friday, we intentionally put technology last, because technology is the least important thing in a 21st Century classroom.  Technology alone doesn’t make a classroom innovative.  Technology is a tool that should be used to improve student outcomes in your classroom.  It is not a magic bullet.  No amount of iPads or Smartboards or Kahoots will make a difference if the other 9 ingredients in a 21st Century Classroom aren’t being addressed.  

Joanne and I enjoyed the conversations that our presentation sparked.  It was interesting to hear so many other perspectives, especially from teachers in the elementary panel.  I found it fascinating to realize how interconnected the steps for a 21st Century classroom are.  We spoke about mentoring many times before finally coming to that step in our presentation.  Many participants spoke of the need to build a positive relationship with their students which ties in well with student centered, invitational classrooms.  

In the end, we spent a lot of time talking about what a classroom “looks” like and what it “sounds” like.  I think the biggest challenge comes down to understanding what it “feels” like to be in our classrooms.  If students feel welcome, included, listened to, empowered and respected that is when true learning happens.  If you are thinking, “My classroom feels like it needs some Chromebooks...”, you might be missing the point.

Notice, no technology
For anyone getting ready to join the Innovators Mindset book club, the look fors that George Couros identifies link up well with the steps Joanne and I spoke about.

I might be paraphrasing...
Creating a 21st Century Classroom of your own doesn’t have to be hard.  Really, it’s been the 21st Century for seventeen years.  If you want to make your own 21st Century Classroom, just find a classroom and walk in.  Maybe we should re-title our presentation to “How to Create a Classroom”.

In the spirit of Open, if you are passionate about creating a 21st Century Classroom of your own, feel free to use our presentation and adapt it for your own building.
A Beginning...
Welcome to The Shift.




This is a place where we hope to discover, explore and highlight the cool and forward thinking teaching practices, ideas and philosophies around the Halton District School Board.  Who knows, we might even branch out and look around the province for interesting ideas.  This is the messy beginning to what we hope may spark conversation, ideas and further sharing amongst teachers, administrators and staff in our schools.  

Here we are at the start of this project asking ourselves some big questions (mostly without answers).  Who are we doing this for?  How can we design this so that it will help to shift your practice? Are people willing to share?

Because we do want to shift people’s opinions and ideas about what school can be.  Education is changing, there is no denying that.  Knowledge, which was once the commodity we traded in, is now available for free to anyone with an internet connection.  But we can’t just tell our students to “Google it” and expect to raise productive members of society.  Now, teaching is more about showing students what they can do with their knowledge and less about the transference of that knowledge from us to them. We have to prepare our students for their future, not our past.

Time to teach for tomorrow's jobs, not yesterdays

We are still in the early days of this shift.  No one has all the answers but many people have some answers.  We believe that amazing things happen in all schools and classrooms everyday.  We also know that it’s hard sometimes to share those things.  It’s intimidating for some to invite outsiders into their classroom.  For others, it’s challenging to be away from school to visit another's class.  We’d like to be a conduit through which the great things that are happening in our board can be shared.

Let's shift this curve to the left

So who are we?
Matt Coleman

We are two high school teachers, teaching in Burlington, Ontario, Canada.

Matt Coleman is an art and photography teacher, with 12 years of experience.  He has taught at 5 different high schools in that time, mostly in Burlington and Oakville, with a stint teaching internationally in Manama Bahrain.  He has taught Ontario Curriculum as well as International Baccalaureate (IB).





Jamie Mitchell
Jamie Mitchell is a mathematics teacher who has been teaching in the Halton District School Board for 11 years.  He started teaching at Gary Allan High School in the STEP program before moving into a traditional high school.  He is currently working as the Program Leader for Mathematics and Computer Studies at Dr Frank J. Hayden Secondary School.

We both care about the “what” of each person's day to day learning  We hope you’ll join us as we go deep with the hows and the whys of truly innovative education.