Earlier this month I had the opportunity to collaborate with my Ministry of Education colleague, Jessica Weber, as we facilitated a keynote session for Waterloo Catholic DSB’s Education Innovation Conference 2018.

This conference brought teachers, educational assistants, library technicians, administrators, and system leaders together to explore the ‘Transforming of Learning and Teaching’. Throughout the day WCDSB colleagues facilitated sessions for each other on a number of topics, including…

  • Developing Deeper Competencies in Mathematics;
  • Supporting all learners with Google Read & Write;
  • Engaging students in collaboration and problem solving through Digital Breakout Rooms;
  • Developing Global Comptencies through 3D Printing in the Learning Commons;
  • And more!

To start this day, Jessica and I explored a number themes around Innovation in Ontario schools. I was taken aback by the energy and passion in the room, as well as the connecting being explored at the school and system level to ideas around creativity, design thinking, and collaboration.


One key value that resonated with our participants was the power of Failing Forward. By creating a culture where we embrace learning from failure, we can continue to iterate towards the solutions that we need.

Throughout our work in supporting and developing innovation in Ontario schools, I continue to be reminded of the importance of our roles as leaders in creating the conditions of innovation. Without the permission to ideate and iterate, we cannot truly innovate. What can this permission look like and sound like in each of our environments? Whether as a teacher providing permission for students to explore, as a school administrator providing permission for educators to ideate, or as system leaders providing permission for school teams and leaders to consider their users and community… at the heart of innovation is the permission to try.

Thanks again to the organizers of WCDSB’s Innovation in Education Conference for creating this space for colleagues to come together to engage and collaborate together.

Please click here to access the ideas and slides that we explored in this session. What will be your next step? Who will you share your thinking with? We hope that you will comment with your wonderings and next steps.. We look forward to continuing the conversation together!

1 Comment

Patrick Miller · April 23, 2018 at 8:06 am

Sounds like a great place to be!
It’s always interesting to hear how different districts are approaching innovation. I think some of the disparity comes in the collective understanding of what innovation is and what it is not. It’s all relative. One person/district’s innovation is another’s old hat or headache. I believe it is much better to harness the power of iteration and agility than the alternative of continuously playing defense against disruption.
One word I have been struggling with lately (although I use it all the time) is permission. I still believe we need to let people know they can take risks and try new things, but permission just has an air of power and authority in it. I’ve been looking for an alternative way to let people from the classroom to the boardroom know that they don’t just have permission, but rather that they have a responsibility to continue to grow and improve. Things like modeling, empowering, and supporting – risk-taking, iteration and feedback are what I am trying to sum up in a concise statement. I’ll let you know when it comes to me.

For my latest thinking on innovation and disruption, have a look at: https://edumillerp.wordpress.com/2018/01/12/disruption-and-immunity/

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