U2 is one of my all time favourite bands. Beautiful Day is one of their biggest hits. We are hoping that our version of “Beautiful Day” in education is just as successful in our community!
This year, my school is attempting some new – we are calling them “Day 9”s. These are 4 calendared days throughout the year where there is no timetable, no scheduled academic classes; rather, there are student
and faculty designed experiences that occur within and outside of the school. These are experiences grounded in what we believe as a school: allowing students to explore the brink of the known; giving deliberate permission to all our faculty, staff and students to have their minds set free; and for our community to break out of the academic marble spell.
The students are buzzing, the faculty are too. There are nerves, doubts, and lots of questions, but there is also excitement, hope and an enthusiasm for what might be possible now and in the future. We are yet to have a Day 9, but the process is one that has built up these emotions. Stemming directly from our strategic plan, and from our teacher-led sub-committees, we knew that we were ready for something like this. But the current iteration of Day 9 emerged after more focused workshops with faculty and staff, students and administration, as well as from data from past school surveys. With these data points, and ideas, a small group was formed to flush out and present a working model for implementation. Thus, the Day 9 concept was born.
These foundational concepts are meant to inspire faculty, staff and students to create opportunities for Day 9s that are:
1) Meaningful to the lives, interests and passions of our faculty, staff and students
2) Authentic experiences, not contrived.
3) Promote Inquiry/Open-mindedness, and all for engaging with new perspectives
And that each Day 9 must be:
4) Well organized from start to finish
5) Provide Choice for how the faculty, staff and students engage on the day
6) Integrated into the lives of faculty, staff and students, and not something that is overtly taxing and simply layered upon their existing lived experience
The experiences on offer for our first Day 9 are as exciting as they are diverse. Experiences range from an excursion outside of the GTA to explore food security; entrepreneurship 101 , a workshop designed to support getting your own small business off the ground; circus camp (yup!); wellness retreat; and, a leadership workshop including a Virtual Reality segment to build public speaking skills. There are many other experiences that our Grade 9 – 12 students can choose from – that’s right, they get to choose! – and there are coordinated programs in our Grade 5-8 years, and again in our Grades JK – 4 years designed to elicit outcomes that promote curiosity, compassion, integrity and inquiry – our school’s values.
Day 9s are something that have never been tried before, and for which there are few tested models. In this way, we as a whole school are collaborating, cooperating and entering this space as a community of learners. It won’t be perfect, and the first Day 9 will not be locked in as a way we do things. This will be an iterative process. In this way, as a whole-school we are a learning organization.
For more information on the discovery process, research, prototyping and (coming soon) testing of Day 9s, please leave a comment below.