Module 3


Empowering Innovative Learning Environments   

Know yourself well, but live to serve others.
Immerse yourself in the world, but withdraw from the world daily.
Live in the present and revere tradition, but create the future.
(C. Lowney 2013).
Adapted from  Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads

Learning Focus 

● reflect and develop characteristics of an innovative mindset for building leadership capacity as an educational leader
● c
ritically examine how school leaders foster a culture of innovation and reflect on how they might embed them into their own leadership practices
critically explore a variety of innovative practices and 21st century learning spaces that use technology to foster creativity, risk-taking and collaborative professional learning for developing school learning goals
know how to use various professional learning models for enhancing technology integration

PQP Curriculum Connections
● Develop an environment in which intellectual risk is promoted
● Building trusting relationships in order to learn and engage in new practices

The Ontario Catholic Leadership Framework
Developing the Organization to Support Desired Practices

ISTE Standards for Educators
●  Empowering Innovative Learning Environments

Setting the Context 

      “You don’t learn to walk by following rules.
You learn by doing, and by falling over.”
– Richard Branson

Tony Wagner is an internationally respected educator and author of Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World. One of the key ideas in his book is that forward thinking schools today work to build cultures of innovation based on collaborative problem-solving, inquiry and creativity. He argues that innovation is absolutely essential for making our schools more engaging and relevant for student learning and success in today’s global economy and digital world. Innovative cultures are described as people who are “imbued with a purpose, style of behaviour and attitude that allows them to create something original of value, make a difference or change a process, service, system or way of thinking.” ( C. J. Westerberg, 2016).  

This module focuses on the critical role educational leaders have in empowering innovative learning environments. It is an opportunity to explore how school leaders model innovative mindsets while promoting new pedagogies and technologies for innovation and deeper learning.  

As you work through this module in Part 1 and 2 of the PQP program, think about your own leadership practices in relation to the Personal Leadership Resources in the Ontario Catholic Leadership Framework (OCLF) and George Couros’s 8 characteristics of an Innovative Mindset.  His most recent publication, Innovate Inside the Box (Couros & Novak, 2019), focuses further on how leaders can bring these characteristics to life by building powerful relationships that seek to inspire and provide meaningful experiences for students. As a leader, how can you enhance these traits in yourself and others in the work you do as an educational leader? 

Building Capacity for Empowering Innovative Learning Environments

For PQP Part 1Select one or more of the learning engagements outlined below as a starting point for exploring Module 3 – Empowering Innovative Learning Environments

For PQP Part 2 –  Select one or more learning engagements (different from the ones you selected in Part 1) and highlight them in your Leadership Portfolio Assignment.

PQP candidates reflect and share their learning through
Twitter #PQP10 (Part 1), #PQP20 (Part 2). Click on this link to create a twitter account
online reflection sheets (the link to your online reflection sheet is available in your TeachOntario folder). 

Learning Engagement # 1

“If leaders want people to try new things, they have to
openly show that they are willing to do the same.” 
–  George Couros in The Innovator’s Mindset

Screen Shot 2018-08-12 at 10.36.00 AMMoonshot Thinking is considered by many to be an inspirational video for innovative thinking and leadership.  What resonates with you as you watch this video?

Using #PQP10 (Part 1) or #PQP20 (Part 2), share your thoughts about this video and highlight an innovative speaker, book, TED talk or video that inspires you.

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-12-51-57-pmTo lead innovative change, George Couros believes that “you have to look at yourself as an innovator first, and to create schools that embody this mindset as a culture.” Read and reflect on two articles by George Couros; The Innovator’s Mindset and 8 Characteristics of an Innovator’s Mindset.

As you reflect on these two articles think about how an “Innovator’s Mindset” can build capacity for yourself as a leader and how it connects to the “Personal Leadership Resources” identified in the Ontario Catholic Leadership Framework .

Share and Reflect 

Questions to guide your thinking (post your response in the online reflection sheets):

 Share an example of how you have embraced innovation in your practice as an educational leader.
● Which characteristic of an innovator’s mindset and OCLF Personal Leadership Resources do you draw upon to support your leadership actions and practice? What do you see as a next step for growth?

Learning Engagement # 2  

“Our job, sometimes, is simply to be the spark, help build confidence,
and then get out of the way. If innovation in any school is solely
dependent upon one person, it will continue to happen in pockets.
In contrast, when we focus on empowering learners to
become leaders,
they help spread ideas.”

– George Couros in The Innovator’s Mindset

process-of-interationInnovation is not just about about introducing new technologies. Rather it is about creating optimal learning experiences through a process of iteration that focuses on addressing an important learning need. The innovation process is supported by leadership actions that fosters the conditions for risk-taking, collaborative learning, reflection and the ability to learn from both success and failure.

View this video clip of Tony Wagner speaking to Ontario school leaders about why we need to shift to a culture of innovation that promotes risk-taking and creative problem-solving (2015 TELL Summer Institute).

Highlight some of the key messages and insights that stand out for you in this video. Use #PQP10 (Part 1) or #PQP20 (Part 2) to share your thoughts.

Read at least two or more of the suggested professional learning articles/videos below that share different ideas and experiences about how school leaders shape the conditions for innovation and risk-taking to thrive in their school communities.  

Share and Reflect 

Questions to guide your thinking (post your response in the online reflection sheets):

● What do you think are key leadership behaviours and actions for fostering a culture of innovation. Reflect on the articles you read and your own experiences experiences as an educational leader. 
● How might you use social media and technology to spread innovative practices and ideas in your school community?


Learning Engagement # 3  

“Working in an innovative learning environment where teaching
and learning is collaborative, reflections and inquiries are shared,
and communities engaged leads to a more robust, continuously
improving community of practice.”
Enabling e-learning 

An increasing number of school leaders and educators are engaging in innovative practices in their schools, using technology to amplify learning and facilitate professional learning and inquiry.  This learning engagement provides an opportunity to explore
the Ministry of Education’s EduGains site that supports professional learning for educators, school and system leaders. This site includes a number of resources and innovation videos that show innovative learning happening in classrooms and school boards across the province.  

The innovation videos in this site are brief and include a description with suggested questions for discussion. Select several videos to explore and reflect on how:

  • educators use technology to engage student learning and enhance pedagogical practices for student self-directed learning, collaboration, problem-solving and creativity
  • school leaders foster deeper professional inquiry to enhance technology-enabled learning

Dig Deeper and explore an area of interest to you in the Ministry of Education’s new Innovation Learning Resource ( e.g., Makerspace, Innovative Environments, Digital Learning, etc.).  

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Share and Reflect 

Questions to guide your thinking (post your response in the online reflection sheets):

Reflecting on the videos you viewed and your own experiences, what do you see as some of the key characteristics of an innovative learning environment? How do leaders support the conditions for technology-enabled innovative practices to thrive?
● Identify an area of interest for innovative learning that could be a leadership focus for your classroom or school setting.  What do you see as our next steps?

Learning Engagement # 4

“SAMR is not just a guide to integrating technology,
it’s a guide to integrating ourselves into the digital age.
It’s a formula for change.”

SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, ReDefinition) and TPACK  (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) are professional learning models to support technology integration. They provide a framework for educators to reflect on how they are using technology in their instructional practices and how they can integrate technology in more meaningful and innovative ways (#SAMR provides a digital forum to share ideas technology integration with a focus on the SAMR model).

Take a moment to view this video clip of an educator reflecting on how SAMR is a valuable tool for supporting technology integration in her practice.

Using #PQP10 (Part 1) or #PQP20 (Part 2) to share your thoughts about what effective technology integration means to you. 

Explore either the SAMR or TPAK model as a professional learning model for supporting technology integration. If you are familiar with both of these models then take this opportunity to dig deeper or examine another model of interest to you (e.g., TIM model).  If possible, connect with colleagues who are familiar with one of these models to discover how it has supported their professional learning.

As you work through this learning engagement, think about:
How this technology integration model can support your own professional learning as an educational leader.
● How you might use this technology integration model to support the learning of other educators in a professional learning context.

Screen Shot 2018-08-12 at 3.20.05 PMSAMR describes four different entry points or levels for integrating new or existing technologies. This model can be a lens for educators to understand and self-assess how they are using technology in their instructional practice.

View this website to learn more about the different levels of SAMR and how this model for technology integration can be connected to developing higher-order thinking skills. Read this recent article in TeachOntario that profiles a school community of educators working collaboratively to integrate technology in new and meaningful ways for their students, using the SAMR model as a guide. Kathy Schrock’s web page also provide extensive resources on SAMR.

tpakTPACK serves as a professional development model to support teachers in planning lessons that integrate different domains of teacher knowledge (Technological, Pedagogical and Content).  This model is designed around the idea that content (what you teach) and pedagogy (how you teach) must be the basis for any technology that you plan to use in your classroom to enhance learning. TPACK provides a useful framework for understanding how to design lesson plans and learning experiences that integrate technology into the classroom effectively.

View this video and article as a basic introduction to the TPAK model.  This article provides an example of how TPAK can provide a lens for redesigning a lesson.

Share and Reflect 

Questions to guide your thinking (post your response in the online reflection sheets):

How might you use SAMR or TPACK to reflect on your own instructional practices for technology integration?
Highlight some ideas for a professional learning activity using SAMR or TPACK. For example, it might be a to support educators in learning how to effectively integrate technology for classroom planning or a school learning focus. Reflect on how this leadership practice connects to the Ontario Leadership Framework.

Identify an area of interest for innovative learning that could be a leadership focus for your classroom or school setting. 


Sample Reflections from PQP Candidates

“Using the SAMR model for self-assessment, I would put myself at the ‘augmentation’ phase.  At this stage, I am using technology for improvement. When looking at the OCLF, the SAMR and TPACK all  relate to the expectation that, “Catholic school leaders retain skilled educators by providing support and time for collaboration, sharing leadership, creating a shared vision and building trusting relationships.”  When providing staff with self-reflection models like these, leaders are promoting a culture of innovation and change. Personally my next steps will to move to the modification stage. I can see this happening with the way I collect data. I plan to trial some data collection options with EAs, using a program on office 365, to make it an interactive forum where we can gather more information on student learning, from more people, in real time.”  – T. Le Conte, 2017


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