Monthly Archives: March 2018


Hi there Cohorters!

I hope everyone has had a great break from their routines these past couple of weeks.  I have just returned refreshed from rural Cuba, tech-free, advertising free and utterly in slo-mo for the last week. Bliss.

I have found in my Cohort experience that many little side-bar projects have crept into what i am now classifying as 'Cohort Plans' ... action plan yes, still working, but in talking with so many amazing educators there have also been so many other things I want to try out.  So today I tackled one of them.  @mbrims inspired me to try out Parlay with my IB diploma Geography students as a great way of recording observations and conversations.  After Bobby's talk at the last F2F I was determined to add Parlay to my tookbox.

Today I went online and a chat box popped up from Katryn at Parlay ... she connected with me immediately and through video conference was able to help me set up my first online round table as a conclusion to a unit on hazards and risk assessment ... I recognized upon walking through the program that this would be an incredible way for me to do two things:  1.  Really use discussion as a way to measure student ability to synthesize and evaluate concepts and 2.  Get some metrics on social / emotional learning in terms of student interaction.  Amazing!  I am trying this first day back (Tuesday for me)  I will report back on my attempt ...


I have spent a lot of time in 'thinking mode' since the last F2F. I had been worried about the fact that my action plan had not advanced to a great degree, yet I was still interested in my topic and so I took the advice I often give my students: keep reading, keep mulling things over, stay conscious and open minded, observe, listen, talk to others … and it worked.  My 'pivot' may have brought me to a more complex place, but I am ok with that; we are lifelong learners after all, and I am a great believer in the power of patience and perseverance.  I have been avoiding the blog, because in truth while I can get up every day in front of my students, I fret about putting my ideas out there into the ether unless they seem fully formed and coherent and able to contribute to advancing a conversation / process.  What I am learning is, it doesn't matter.  I should know by now that there is no learning without risk.

So, after an inspiring 'Google Meet' conversation last night with @ddoucet and @lmustard (thanks both!) Here is what I've been thinking about …

My initial question came from an article I read in the Harvard Business Review I was curious about what kind of skills would help our students to be 'future ready'.  The articles talks about how advancements in Artificial Intelligence will make traditional definitions of 'smart' obsolete since machines will be smarter than any human ever could be.  What will be required in the future, are people who possess the skills often associated with emotional intelligence; how one thinks, listens, relates and collaborates.  This launched a deep dive into the role of empathy and into the ways in which technology can be leveraged to infuse empathy into the curriculum in order to encourage action.  Now, the pivot.  As I read more I started to gravitate towards the idea that infusing empathy requires much more than a few one-off experiences, it cannot be an add-on; it would require a cultural shift in the approach to the set up of my classroom, the way I interact with my students and the teaching strategies I chose.  I realized that this is already happening in subtle ways, but that I would like to pursue this goal more explicitly / consciously.  Next, I was involved in a few conversations involving our school strategy in the areas of well-being, international mindedness and culturally responsive communities.  I started to really notice that empathy seemed to be a key point of intersection for all of this work.  I met with a couple colleagues involved with our strategic plan, and I intend to have a few additional discussions around these points of intersection in the next month.   I am still particularly interested to look at how the role of empathy can inform our strategy in the area of innovation.  In talking with colleague @sgupta and my Cohort coaches, I was encouraged to chase these ideas down the funnel into something manageable.  So, where am I going from here?  Well, I do have an interesting Design Challenge coming up with my Gr. 11's (DP1) .  Collaboratively, the students will work in design teams to create their vision of a sustainable urban future for Toronto in 2050.  We are thrilled to be supported by Maximum City in the development of this project and I feel that this project will provide an interesting opportunity for me to hone the development of empathy in a project-based way.  Design thinking will be applied and so the interesting question for students will be  - what information do you need to know about city dwellers in 2050?  What will their needs be?  This will require the application of foresight to empathy, which is another whole area of interest to me.  Thank you dear blog readers for tuning in! Special thanks to Derek and Laura - I made my deadline! 🙂