Connect. Collaborate. Risk. Innovate.

Connect. Collaborate. Risk. Innovate.

Friday, 19 June 2015

THIS is a School.

           In her 2015 TED Talk, Philadelphia principal, Linda Cliatt-Wayman, shares the profoundly moving story of an impactful moment when Ashley, a student from a struggling inner city high school, boldly proclaimed at an assembly, "This is not a school."

          So what makes a school more than simply a bricks and mortar institution? What are the essential qualities that contribute to a vibrant, innovative and welcoming community of learners? The reality is, there's no magic formula, no quick and easy recipe to follow. And even if there was, many of the components or ingredients are difficult, if not impossible, to "measure". After 15 years as a member of a school community that has undergone significant challenges and transformation, I have more questions than answers. But with the help of my colleagues and my students, here's what I've discovered so far...

...THIS is a School.

  • It is a place where teachers and administrators value connections and relationships over content and curriculum. 

Courtesy of Dean Shareski My Ongoing Struggle With Diffusing the Impact of Grades

Connections Over Content

  • It is a place where students feel appreciated, heard and cared for. It is a place where they feel loved.

Courtesy of George Couros Innovation Does Not Happen in Schools If a Child Does Not Feel Loved
Courtesy of Kate Law
  • It is a place where all members of the school community are encouraged to celebrate and share their successes and their challenges


  • It is a place where learning doesn't just happen in the classroom. It is a place where teachers understand that the "extra" stuff is what makes a difference.

Courtesy of Alyssa Becker

  • It is a place where students are empowered and equipped to design and share their own learning. 


  • It is a place that supports teachers as they strive to integrate innovative teaching and assessment practices into their classrooms. It is a place where educators continuously challenge themselves to create learning experiences that are relevant and engaging for their students. 

Learning Partners
  • It is a place where students feel like they belong. It is a place where they can be themselves, their best self.
It is a family.

"...We are a family." by Shanali

          With gratitude and appreciation, I'd like to thank my Sullivan Heights Secondary family for many years of laughter and learning. #alwaysastar And I look forward with great excitement to joining a new school community, a new family, at Steveston-London Secondary. #gosharks