Taking Risks… and Being Transparent About Them – 2017 Edition!

Last year, after reading The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros over the summer, I challenged myself to be more transparent around the professional risks I planned to take and the goals I wanted to accomplish.

Often, we share our risks after they have already been successful, rather than being up front before we actually take the risks. Last year, I shared my risk goals with our staff, with the intention of helping our staff members feel safe in taking their own risks and asking questions on how to make our school and board to be better and do better.

Upon reflection after a wonderful summer, some of my goals went great, other have had significant steps, and one was dropped entirely as I realized it was no longer a good fit. My goals last year were to implement:

  1. Time Supports for Staff Professional Learning and Enhancing Learning
  • IDEA TimeInnovative Development of Educational Advancement – Our admin team will teach the students in each grade level so that the whole grade team has time as a team to plan together.
  • BUILD TimeBelPark Unleashing Innovative Learning & Doing Time – Our intent is similar to “Google Time” or “20% Time,” where staff will have specific time to think, research, collaborate and work on areas of development that they are PASSIONATE ABOUT AND DO NOT NORMALLY HAVE THE TIME TO FOCUS ON. This is not for doing Field Trip forms or planning as per usual, it is for work that pushes us forward!
  • PLCs – consistent times every 2 weeks for teachers to work together
  • Team Planning Times – specific times consistent every 2 weeks for teachers to work together
  1. Learning Commons
  • LC Philosophy Implementation & Utilization with students
  1. Twitter for Staff Collaboration and Collaboration with other Schools
  • My Favourite and Best Collaboration & Learning Tool (behind PLNs)
  • How do we get staff on and using it to collaborate both within and outside our school?
  1. YouTube Channel – Admin Video Communication with parents/community
  • How do we utilize video to improve communication with the community?
  1. Learning Garden on West Side of School
  • Collaborative Design, Development and Implementation of Outdoor Learning areas


  1. I feel my goal of implementing time supports for our staff went above and beyond my wildest hopes and dreams. I loved being able to teach our students. Best of all, I could see them in action and I was able to create a school wide culture through the citizenship work I did with each class using Physical Education as my time. Alex (@alexlovestravel) did citizenship learning with all the students, which was used to teach positive behavior, our ROARS code of positive behavior, IMMAT (Ignore, Move Away, Ask to Stop, Tell to Stop, Tell and Adult for Help), and some digital citizenship. It provided time for our grade teams to work and plan together, and the expectation was that they go beyond just planning for next week, to planning for enhanced and improved learning opportunities, as this was time they were gifted with. We saw some amazing growth and outcomes come from this. We have decided to continue this again in 2017-18. Having consistent plans for our time was so powerful for our staff, and we minimized “Staff Meeting” times as much as possible by using a Google Doc for everyone to access and using meeting time for more discussion rather than firehosing.
  2. Our Learning Commons is coming along, and we are starting to see a different mentality in the use of the area. There were days last year when multiple classes used it at the same time for multiple purposes. We still need to work on developing student access to the place and looking at our LC Philosophy, but we are growing.
  3. It was my hope all of our staff would be using Twitter as a communication tool, but we had to wait a bit as we did not get our new wireless network, which is so AWESOME now! We had to login from personal devices or iPads every time you wanted to use them previously. Now, we can connect ONCE and it will last for the whole school year. Teachers may use their phones or iPads with much greater ease, and one of our teachers and I have been testing it out from a school and classroom perspective. We spent Friday afternoon learning a bit more about Twitter as a teaching staff and will implement it as a parent/home communication tool as it is now so much easier and useful than making websites… I can’t wait to see it in action!
  4. The YouTube channel got dropped… I honestly like Twitter much better and it is quick and fast, but would still like to play with video possibilities by kids for kids (and for parents…!)
  5. The Learning Gardens on the East side are phenomenal and we got a protective safety fence up. I have now made a map of the grounds for students and parents, as I want students to start brainstorming, thinking, measuring, and designing what they would like in outdoor classrooms and learning spaces outside. And our vegetable gardens only got raided once this year, and they got very little. And NO, it was not teenagers, if was a 55 year old married couple… Yeesh!

Stay tuned for this years goals and where we want to go next! A few of the goals will be the same and we will build upon our work, but others will be new directions.

Work hard, learn tonnes!


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