Town Hall takes on a new format

 Town Hall took on a different format this year, as a number of community stakeholders gathered Tuesday night at Victoria Park High School.

 The evening took on the look and feel of a World Café, as participants rotated through a number of stations in an attempt to generate ideas, and then rank their thoughts in order of  importance.

 Central to the evening was the development of actionable strategies to further the Board priority of developing innovative thinkers.

 “This has been a really important part of our planning process the last 10 years, and some really great ideas have come out of this evening each and every year,” said Board Chair  Mich Forster, about the importance of Town Hall.

 He added often times, small ideas from Town Hall meetings have morphed into full-fledged initiatives. Forster made mention of a meeting five years ago, when a few parents  suggested they needed assistance with school fees. That eventually led to the elimination of school fees at the elementary school level for the 2011/2012 school year, as the  Board did away with fees at the middle and high school levels for the 2016/2017 year.

 The evening all began with a WorldCloud, as participants were asked to come up with words to finish off this statement: Innovative thinkers can…

 Create was the top response, followed by solve, adapt and think, as town hall participants also finished that statement with words such as inspire, imagine and change.

 Town Hall 2017 attendees were then asked four questions at the stations they rotated through.

As participants rotated to three stations, they are asked to generate ideas for actionable strategies - tangible actions that will contribute to the objective of developing innovative thinkers. Those ideas were ranked, and from those ideas, responses to the four questions were generated.

Town Hall participants then voted on those responses, as the results were logged in real time on four large screens inside the gym. The following is the list of the four questions, and the top three responses to each question.

What strategies can be implemented to develop innovative thinkers within schools?

1. Create opportunities for students to be innovative through real-life application and individual passion.

2. Students take ownership of their learning by having opportunities to apply learning to real-life problems.

3. School should create schoolwide opportunities for teams to solve student-identified. problems/opportunities for improvement, where integration of subjects is purposely planned for.

What strategies can be implemented to develop innovative thinkers outside of schools in collaboration with parents?

1. Assign work that intentionally requires conversations between parents and students around problem solving.

2. Students keep track of extra-curricular activities outside of school (sports, travel, building, cooking with family) as they relate to skills and abilities in the curriculum, and get credit for those things.

3. Foster relationships with community businesses and partners to support student innovation and real-world learning (3-5 year sustainable plans).

What strategies can be implemented to develop innovative thinkers outside of schools in collaboration with business and industry?

1. We will embed real-life application and hands-on experiences into our curricular outcomes.

2. Create a platform/network to inform businesses of things being taught in school and provide opportunities for them to share their expertise with students, both within their workplace and in school (younger students as field trips, older students as internships).

3. Build strong relationships with businesses and industry in order to assist with connecting curriculum to the real world, in and out of the school setting.

What strategies can be implemented to develop innovative thinkers outside of schools in collaboration with community?

1. Embed time in the school timetable to partner with the community for activities such as business mentorships, volunteerism, local government, athletics and connections with cultural organizations.

2. Annual “life experience day” (job shadowing, career/community connections) offered through middle and high schools, facilitated by a database of willing stakeholders.

3. The community identifies a real-life problem for community improvement, and brings it to all schools for students to solve.

Input collected from Town Hall will be studied during the Board retreat in March, where Trustees will look for ways to incorporate the ideas into their planning.

A link to the PowerPoint presentation, which helped kick off the evening, can be found here:

Date posted: Feb. 8, 2017