Imagine a School…

Inspired by Tricia Friedman, Sonya terBorg, George Couros.  Let’s imagine what school could be.  Today, we’re speed blogging.  In no particular order, here are some of my wonderings.

Imagine a school…

…where goals are decided by staff.

…where kids love to be.

…where success is defined by the individual.

…where colleagues support and encourage each other.

…with a culture that encourages innovation.

…where exam scores don’t define our success.

…where we don’t have external exams.

…with project-based learning.

…where kids follow their passions.

…where kids don’t have to learn the quadratic formula.

…where kids teach and inspire each other.

…which prepares kids and teachers for the real-world.

…where mistakes lead to progress.

…where people feel safe being themselves.

…where people are happy to see you every damn day.

…where our questions guide the learning.

…where math isn’t about right or wrong.

…where math is about process.

…where teachers learn as much from kids as kids learn from teachers.

…where teachers aren’t afraid to try new things.

…where kids aren’t afraid to try new things.

…where empathy is a guiding principle.

I want to go to school here.  How can I help create this amazing place?

I’m sure I’ve left loads out.  What ideas do you have?  Please share them in the comments section.

Thanks and Julian E for the photo.


7 thoughts on “Imagine a School…

  1. If we build it…. 🙂
    I would love for all schools to be like that so I start with my own pocket of influence: What can I do right now to bring about that which I want to see school-wide? This is hard sometimes – especially when you are in a school that doesn’t seem to align with your own values or perhaps is moving too cautiously, too slowly, when the time for change is actually past due. “Where empathy is a guiding principle” – love it. Where we ask “How might we…..” and wait for our kids to respond because we haven’t actually decided their fate for them already! Just by asking how you can make school different means you are one step closer to making it so. Empower. Inspire. Empathize.


  2. Valerie,

    “where empathy is a guiding principle.” YES. The book I’m currently reading about design thinking is yet another reminder about just how important this is. Here is a link to the book if interested:

    This passage of the book underscores what you’ve written above:
    “Innovation is not something to be turned on and off like a faucet. Breakthrough ideas take longer to germinate than it takes for all but the longest and deepest recessions take to pass. Companies that suspend innovation efforts, lay off staff, and kill projects as they enter a downturn will only weaken their innovation pipeline.”

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Valerie–being beyond ‘right and wrong’ is a good goal for any teacher.
    Kind Regards,


  3. Hi Valerie, being in a school like this would be cool…. Lots of the things you say are about this idea that fear is in often in place rather than bravery – something of importance in Seth Godin’s manifesto ‘Stop Stealing Dreams’. How can we live out what it means to be a risk-taker? Do we (staff and students) have too much at stake to disrupt the status quo, or are we prepared to model, and to teach, bravery? How do we create a culture where this is the norm?
    As you rightly say, this culture is important, so perhaps we need to start seeing everyone as having individual strengths and passions, and that what makes a fantastic school is the interplay between all of these. I would say that a first step is to consider the people that we have around us and to give them an equal chance to share what they have to give – staff and students alike. This does not happen overnight, and it often needs those with the most to lose to be prepared to loosen their grip on the power that they possess.


  4. Sounds like a great school.
    On this idea of mistakes leading to progress…how do we continue to move that direction? I feel like schools do a decent job of talking about the importance of failure and learning from mistakes, but so many of our kids are still driven by that number that shows up on their report card…seems like we haven’t done enough to break the fixed mindset many students have of worrying more about the number earned than the learning gained from an experience.
    Taking risks, embracing vulnerability, learning from failures…as you said, how to help create this amazing place?


    1. I’m working on embracing my inner amateur and sharing that with the world, with colleagues, and with kids. I’m planning a blogging activity for the Grade 9s in the first unit of the year to focus on our strengths and what it took for us to get there. As part of that, I will write and share with them. If we can cultivate empathy here, we can help to create a safe environment to fail. At least I hope. Maybe we need to stop putting that grade on the report card. Imagine what that could do to inspire such a culture.


  5. Hi Val – That would be an amazing place to work. I feel that we do have some of these and we (as a school collective) want to have an environment where projects and imaginations can run free. I wonder how much freer school would be if “..exam scores don’t define success” I think once you stop concentrating on exams and focus on individuals and their own personal successes and failures then you will be working with stronger and more resilient pupils. I would love set this as a topic for the pupils – what would they like to see?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s