It’s a Beautiful Day… Day 9!

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:

Students and faculty have a choice in how Day 9s are designed, and what they choose to do on that day

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.


4 thoughts on “It’s a Beautiful Day… Day 9!

  1. @gnichols How are you managing the “ambiguity” that must exist among staff and students given you have never tried this before. How do you make everyone comfortable with building the ship while you sail it? I look forward to learning more about this really innovative programme.

  2. I love this idea and would have desperately welcomed it as a student myself. Like Justin, I wonder how you manage those that need everything in place and know each step. (Honestly, that would be have been me as a student, so my grade ten self is asking🤓) Please post again with the roadblocks, how you successfully broke through them, the wins and the learning from your first day 9. We are trying some new things at HTS this year and I’m always eager to learn.

    1. Hi Danielle,

      Well, as Grant Lichtman likes to say: “change is not hard, it’s just uncomfortable”. I try to communicate in a way to set expectations fairly low, in that this things will be messy, and you won’t have all the answers that you need to move forward, but you’ll have the support you need to move forward in spite of this. It’s about changing the understanding of the ‘self’ in education, which is what this whole enterprise is about. Anyone who needs specifics can come to me to talk things through. But in short, it is a lot of dialogue and transparency. Hope this helps!

  3. I love this idea- can’t wait to hear about how they go! What will the follow up be? Will each “day 9” be a stand alone event, or will students continue their experience with subsequent “day 9″‘s?

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