Posts tagged shift conference
Share Your Shift

Halton District School Board has been SHIFTING in a big way for the last two and a half years. Both educators, administration and corporate staff have shown an appetite for innovation.  We are seeing doors opening up, educators sharing what they do, taking risks and trying new things. There is a SHIFT happening in Halton and there are Shifters everywhere working together, pushing the envelope and improving processes, products and understanding.  Innovating is challenging, it is often the path less travelled. Innovators need time to feed their soul, reconnect with others doing this important work and recharge their mental batteries.


Date: May 23rd, 2019

What: Full Day “Share Your Shift” Conference

Play: Open Space, Swap Meet, Rotman I-Think, Empower Makers, McMaster Design Thinking, CIBC Service Design Team

Location: Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre, Oakville, ON

Details: 150 Spaces Limited

Lunch & Coverage Provided

If you’ve been engaged in this work, or feel like you want to get started please join us on May 23rd for a full day celebration of all things innovative!  Our partners in innovation, like Rotman I-Think, McMaster University and CIBC Service Design, will be joining us to lead sessions on new ways to shift our thinking.  There will be bands, collaborative sculptures, and slam sessions. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage in open space dialogue with other HDSB Innovators. There will even be a chance to share ideas and resources in a Swap Meet format!  

If you are new to Innovation in Halton, don’t let that hold you back!  Come along with a friend to see what Shifting is all about.  May 23rd is being designed for both academic and corporate innovator thinkers!

Register on  PD PLACE opens at NOON on Wed, May 8th to all of HDSB  — spaces are limited, don’t be disappointed!

A confirmation of your registration will be emailed to you with a participant form to submit.

Follow along to find updates on the day on our SHIFT website

Summer Learning Opportunities

Well, fellow Shifters, you are probably tidying your desks, thinking of a (HOT!) Canada Day weekend and looking forward to some much deserved rest.  Thank you for following along with and supporting the Shift this year, your energy and enthusiasm has been contagious!

If you are looking for some summer learning opportunities, look no further.  There are at least two chances to Shift in the coming months!

First up is Second City at the Barn.   July 12th and open to ALL staff in HDSB, this is a great opportunity to laugh and learn with the incredible Second City Improv Group.

Next, in August you can participate in the second Shift Your (Blank) Summer Learning Day.  This is a great opportunity to energize yourself before the new school year begins and learn with like-minded Shifters like you.

Signing off for the summer!

Jamie and Matt
Can Creativity and Innovation Be Taught?
Shifting back to the Barn
On Wednesday night, 175 educators got to play together with a revisit to the Barn in Milton.

The theme of the evening was “Can creativity and innovation be taught?”.  We’ve come to believe that the answer is a resounding YES!  As we have been exploring here at the Shift, there are learning conditions that foster innovation, in our schools and for our students.  This is where we started with The Case for Innovation and exploring these conditions, followed by Community Building and Risk Taking, and more to come soon.  Rethinking the structure of our classrooms and our schools is what we are aiming to do as we aim to answer the important questions of whether creativity and innovation can be taught.  This is our BIG why as shifters.  This goal is in context to changes happening at the Ministry level as well.  Our report cards are on the verge of a major overhaul.  The stated goal by the Ministry of Education is to “help students of all ages meet the changing demands of today and tomorrow.”  We don’t know what tomorrow might look like, but we do know that navigating the 21st Century world will require skills in communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity and global citizenship.  

If we want to teach Innovation and Creativity we need to realize that each school is different, with challenges that are big or small.  Some of the solutions to the various challenges can be found inside our home schools and some challenges need the experiences of those from other buildings.  Yet, everyone on the team has a role to play in overcoming the challenges we are facing today.  Things go faster if everyone shares their successes and failures.  You might possess the experiences that another school needs to overcome their particular challenge, so share your strengths and join the conversations.  Sometimes, solutions can be found in unexpected places.  Sometimes the box that we work within needs to be shaken and flipped upside down.  Teaching is a puzzle that can only be appreciated when we stand way back and see the contributions of everyone involved.
Working as a team, we can solve this puzzle!

Networking, asking questions, making observations, experimenting and connecting the dots of our learning are all skills that innovators need to have.  If you are an HDSB educator who is interested in exploring how to teach Innovation and Creativity, why not consider applying for an Innovation Grant! Consider learning more about the skills that innovative people possess and the conditions needed within a classroom or school for innovation to thrive as your starting point.  What is your WHY?  The application is really quite easy, and incredibly flexible in scope, so why NOT?

You can find the details on the grant proposal here on slides 23 to 29.
Summer Sign Off
Well Shifters, it has been a great semester!  Since starting this blog in February of this year, we have had so much fun learning about what teachers are doing in their classes and talking about what they hope to do next. We hope that we did a little to inspire you to think differently about what you teach and how you teach and that you got excited to take some risks.   

Working on this project forced us to learn a lot, and most of that learning was driven through trial and error.  Jamie used a Mac for the first time.  Matt built several rigs to help us with our sound recording.  We learned how to blog, edit video, talk on camera and listen to ideas.  We made lots of mistakes that hopefully nobody noticed.  Although, to quote Marisa Cavataio when we visited her Productions Class at Nelson High School, “The most important thing you will do in this class is make mistakes”.  

Our mistakes bore fruit!  We just recently passed 10,000 views on this blog, which blew away our expectations.  We’ve gained 110 followers too, so thank you for making that possible!  If you haven’t signed up for updates yet, consider adding yourself to the Shift List!

Our videos have been viewed more than 1000 times.  We made our Case For videos with no real idea if anyone would be interested in watching.  Hopefully if you’ve watched we’ve made you think about how you are Innovating.  We certainly learned a lot about how to create environments that demand students to be innovative.

We owe a lot of thanks to the team at School Programs.  Many of the IPL’s helped us get The Shift launched, or joined us to do some thinking and planning.  As well, we had some great mentors in Chris Duncan, Kevin Raposo and Sommer Sweetman who were super generous with their time and assistance.

We had so much fun connecting with Shifters in person at the Shift Conference at the Barn.  It set in our brains the improv ideas of “yes, and” and “feel more comfortable feeling uncomfortable” as a mindset to start innovating in our buildings.  

Looking back on the last 4 months, we decided to each pick our favourite post on the Shift Blog.  Matt really enjoyed speaking to Michael Primerano about going gradeless.  Every since that visit, there has been an ongoing conversation among shifters and in workrooms about how we can hack assessment to make class more about iterative learning and risk taking, and less about the mark.  

Jamie really enjoyed participating in the Innovator’s Mindset Massively Open Online Course (#IMMOOC).  The weekly video chats/conferences were great to listen to, but often it was the backchannel conversations that drove a lot of deeper thinking.  One conversation in particular gave rise to what we dubbed “The Three (Silent) P’s of Innovation”.  For anyone thinking about leading innovation in their buildings next year?  Make sure your teachers know that they have the permission to try something new, your protection when things start to go sideways, and your assistance to help navigate the policies that can slam the brakes on innovation.

If you are thinking about how to lead innovation in your buildings next year?  If so, have you signed up for the Shift Your Blank Summer Symposium yet?  It will be a good opportunity to connect with Shifters, set some goals and work on some ideas to improve practice.

Jamie and Matt, signing off for now. Have a great summer, Shifters!
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!

The Shift Conference
It’s 3:30 on Tuesday afternoon, and I’m Line Dancing with 200 Halton Teachers and my cell phone is still at 75% battery.  Neither of these things are ever true in the middle of the afternoon on a school day.  First of all, during a regular day my phone is a gateway onto social media for me to share things that are happening in my classes and keep up on what other teachers on various online communities are doing.  Secondly, Line Dancing is far outside of my regular comfort zone.
Two shifters, modelling our new shirts.  Try, Fail, Learn!

So how did it come to this?

First off, the cell phone thing.  I was far too invested in the breakout sessions to seek out my phone for distraction.  Yes, I tweeted about various things that spoke to me throughout the day, but I tried to make it quick.  The only real time I spent reading twitter was during lunch or after the breakout sessions ended.  I loved reading others reactions to what they experienced during the conference.  By and large I was far to occupied to need to use my phone.  That’s a good thing!

 Shari Hollett of Second City kicks of the conference with help from Nancy Zigrovic
The day kicked off with high energy, and included firing off free “Shift” t-shirts with a t-shirt cannon, followed by an entertaining and hilarious introduction by our facilitators, “The Second City Toronto”. The following breakout sessions focused on the language we use to talk to each other, delivered by Second City using an Improv lens.  We were kept busy as we moved from activity to activity, seeing how the words we use and how we use them matter.  You can try it yourself!  Get a friend to pitch an idea to you, and when they are done say “No, because… (fill in your own reason)”.  Now try getting them to pitch a different idea, this time answer their pitch with “Yes, but…(again, fill in the details)”.  Finally, a final pitch from your friend.  This time answer with “Yes, and…(details)”.  Which sentence was easier to say?  Which one felt better?  Which one could lead to better, deeper conversations about ideas?

We also played improv games that forced us to adapt to new situations on the fly.  This dramatic change of direction encouraged a flexible, creatively thinking brain.  Try this:  in a group of 3, with two “actors” taking turns telling a story, the third person being the “director”.  The director interjects “take it back” as the actors create the story, and the actors had to immediately change the last statement that they made. It was hilarious and a great exercise in mental flexibility to keep the narrative going while adapting to the ever-changing direction from the director.
Another skill we built through improv games is the ability to actively listen to others.  So often, in our busy days, we are in a such a rush with our own agendas that we don’t take the time to truly listen to the opinions of others.  To truly grow as a “yes, and” community, the ability to listen to others’ ideas is a valuable asset.   One of these listening games that we played was a great way to practice these skills, and this is how it goes:   In partners, one partner puts their hand up, and they go first.  They start a story by saying a sentence.  The other partner has to continue the story by starting with the last word their partner just said.  Something like this:
A:  Yesterday, I took my bike out with my friends and we hit the trails.
B:  Trails, huh?  I would have pegged you for more into city riding?
A:  Riding my bike is my jam, it doesn’t matter where we go!
B:  Go for it then!  It is great that you are out and getting fit!
This is an easy activity that you can try with your classes of any age.  Try it out and let us know how it went!

Throughout the breakout sessions we were shuffled around from partner to partner, never being with the same person twice.  This was great, as it allowed us to interact with a wide variety of participants.  We worked with fellow teachers from both panels, administrators, library techniciations; at one point Stuart Miller himself was spotted in the crowd!  The diversity of the participants was appreciated.  It’s always nice to meet like minded educators!
The scope of the day focused largely on building relationships, making connections with “shifters” across the board, and less about the specifics of what innovation could look like in Halton.  Developing a culture of “yes, and” and energizing participants is far more important than digging into specifics at the early stages of implementing change.
We were asked to “Start to feel more comfortable with feeling uncomfortable”. By the end of the day, that’s exactly what we were doing.  All of us were starting to take greater risks.  We formed groups to work together implementing “yes, and” by inventing a new product and making an improvised advertisement for that product.  We were visited by "Oprah", "Jean-Luc Picard", laundry folding robots and much more in these hilarious skits!  We were pushing our boundaries of what we were comfortable with, achieving things that we never would have had the nerve to attempt at the beginning of the day.

But why Line Dancing?  The instructor was amazing and shared her general dancing philosophy with us:
  1. There is no wrong way to do this - each dancer makes the dance unique
  2. The steps are repeated so if you mess up once just keep going
  3. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else - this dance is what you make of it
  4. You might feel uncomfortable at first, but you will get there
  5. Anyone can learn this
  6. It’s about having fun!

I couldn’t imagine a better way to revisit what we learned in our breakout sessions.  Replace dancing with learning and you’ve got an innovative classroom in a nutshell.  Please, we want you to learn how you learn best, feel free to repeat things until you get it, don’t worry about where other people are in their learning, yes it’s uncomfortable but ANYONE can learn this!  

And of course people would want to participate in Line Dancing!  We just spent a full day getting our comfort zone explored, expanded and finally tossed aside.  So what’s next?  The purpose of the day was about energizing and learning a language that will allow us all to talk about innovation together.  It’s risky, to bring a new idea to the table.  It’s scary to allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to have that idea critiqued.  Having the tools to empower us to talk openly about our ideas using the philosophy of “Yes, and…” will help us all innovate in our own individual areas.  Each of our own schools and workplaces have different needs and face different challenges.  So of course the innovation that is needed in those places will look different.

Even if you didn’t have a chance to participate in the Shift Conference yesterday, we’d love to know what you are dreaming about.  What is your “why?”  Let us know, because we are ready to “yes, and…” those ideas and shift our practice to something great.