Tiffany Poirier, District Vice Principal, SD61

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:  The Greater Victoria School District is a vibrant learning community in a time of modernization. We’ve got this new Strategic Plan and organizational structure, and our leadership team saying, “Hey, we’re open to new ideas–let’s build this vision together.”

But how? We’ve got so many unique schools in different contexts; still we are “one learning community.”

So what brings us together? Who are we? And how do we find out? With so many creative leaders right here at home, don’t you want to find out what’s happening in their classrooms? What are our stories? And what can we learn from each other?

When I think of the new District Coordinator of Learning role, I see an opportunity to create and develop projects that find and share stories of the great teaching and learning happening right here at home.

So that’s why I had the idea to coordinate a project we could call SD61LIVE: the Library of Inspiring Video Exemplars! Let’s bring together now stories from around our district in one searchable place on our website.  We can have content organized with categories and tags, and links to our teachers’ blogs and their resources. It would be like a bird’s eye view of the cutting edge of learning in our schools.

Let’s turn the mirror on ourselves and see what’s working–and then magnify it! I’d like to lead this project as giant “appreciative inquiry” documented with video.

We know professional development is key to nurturing our growth, and video is an efficient, scalable and lasting way of doing pro-d. By growing our library of video exemplars, we will have more data, including that all-important qualitative picture we need to become a self-aware learning organization.

We need folks at all levels now to be able to share their big ideas, so we can all grow.  And this is a connected world, and we need that thoughtful online presence as a part of modernizing because we can’t leave our district’s identity up to chance: we have to create it mindfully together. And we’ve got the tools now to carry out a more strategic communications strategy.

I’m talking about going out into schools with video cameras, inviting principals, teachers, and students to submit their own videos to show what they’re working on: students showcasing cool projects, teachers revealing their best teaching practices, principals letting you inside their minds and their visions and plans.

We can encourage our people to make these videos by offering fun prizes for participation and just the acknowledgment that we see and care what they are working on.

When we have this underway, we can more easily key in on a pool of talented lead learners and then provide them with extra training to go further. Maybe we form a list of 30-40 names for our in-house Speakers Bureau. And just like our own kind of TED TALKS, we can have our great speakers on our website doing “2-Minute Pro-D” videos in this curated playlist—so that we can quickly get the big ideas and inspiration from them anytime, from the convenience of our own devices. Let’s find out now who our experts are because we have so many!

I’m Tiffany Poirier, and I’d like to help especially in rolling out the new curriculum.  I’m a Prime Minister’s Award-winning teacher, vice principal, author, educational writer, and speaker, and my book is “Q is for Question: An ABC of Philosophy”. I’m proud to have been featured on the cover of the Government of Canada’s “Exemplary Practices” magazine, and inquiry is my passion.  Hey, they call me the “Inquiry Ninja” because for the last 10 years I’ve been around the country and internationally working with different school districts, giving keynote presentations to thousands of educators, speaking on inquiry-based learning and philosophy for children.

I’ve created websites, videos, books and training programs because I know educators are tired of just reading abstract educational mandates, when what we need is to see these beautiful ideas brought to life in practice. We know a picture is worth a thousand words–so let’s bring it to them.  

So I teach my unique “10-step Personal Interest Project framework” in a highly visual and engaging way where I map things out step-by-step with diagrams, and I tell stories. I try to make learning fun and real for people with humour and passion because I want my son to grow up in a world with creative role models. We know we can’t teach our students to find their own unique voices, unless we find ours first.

I want to work with this school district on bigger scale now because I believe in the infinite gifts of all of people, and I want to put a spotlight on them because they’re working so hard, they deserve it, they’re getting results—and we can learn from one another.

I’ve got tons of other ideas too!

What if our Aboriginal educators created video lessons to share their teachings in a wider, more scalable way? How about creating a “Mathematicians in Residence” program for our schools in partnership with the university or college? How about a few small Principal “Mastermind Groups” that can meet to think-tank and problem solve specific areas of challenge—and then write project plans and next action steps.  And when our teachers participate, this is a great practical mentorship opportunity!

Let’s keep raising up our leaders. The possibilities are endless, and I’m so excited to brainstorm more and work with the team.

By Tiffany Poirier, M.Ed., Vice Principal, Northridge Elementary, Greater Victoria School District