System Learning in HWDSB

Hello all,

I have had the opportunity to experience an amazing learning opportunity in HWDSB this week!

On Wednesday, we had our System Leader’s Day.  Over 400 educators and service department leaders gathered to discuss how we are implementing our Strategic Directions: Achievement Matters, Engagement Matters, Equity Matters and our Annual Operating Plan: Knowing our Students, Knowing our Staff, Knowing our Parents and Communities.

The purpose of this session was to explore how we will strengthen our learning community through collaborative inquiry.  Everyone in HWDSB  is asked to engage in the process where we determine our students’ learning needs and we then determine what capacity our staff needs in order to effectively respond to our students.  Once we determine our focus, educators can then engage in a process of planning based upon the information they know about their students, acting which is about instruction, assessing which means we understand how our students have responded to the instruction, and reflecting which means we learn from our experience and we collaboratively plan next steps with our colleagues. This collaborative cycle happens continuously in every school in HWDSB.

Our service departments are considering how their work is directly impacting student achievement.  Their focus is to examine a proceess that may need to be adjusted in order to serve our system more effectively, and to determine what capacity is needed to implement this new process.

The energy in the room was amazing as our leaders learned together!  One principal shared with me that her passion for serving our students and staff grows everytime she has the opportunity to learn with her colleagues at an event like this one.

If you are interested in learning more, here is my opening presentation from that day:

My question is how can we enhance our learning organization for everyone in HWDSB: students, staff and parents!  What steps should we take?  What would it look like?

In my next blog, I would like to talk with you about a student leadership forum we held in HWDSB this week…..I learned some important insights and it left me with a few questions!!

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5 Responses to System Learning in HWDSB

  1. Rashmee Karnad-Jani says:

    How does one engage parents in this journey, especially when their own histories of marginalisation keep them out? Sadly, schools welcome engagement on their own terms. Would love to learn more.


  2. Krista Weir says:

    I see parents who are struggling to be involved, and just need some inspiration. Sharing the strategies the energy and passion can serve to pave the path taken in HWDSB.thank you


  3. John Malloy says:

    I agree that truly engaging parents can be challenging. I have asked every school in HWDSB to engage in some action research by focusing on a small number of parents/guardians whose children may be experiencing some learning challenges. The purpose of this engagement is not to invite these parents to the school to tell them what may be wrong; rather, the purpose is to learn from them how we can be more effective partners with them for the sake of their children. I will write further about this in an upcoming blog! Thanks for your comments.


  4. hsiwak says:

    I think that in order for us to really advance as a board, we must begin by asking students directly what is working for them in school and what isn’t, and for us to listen carefully to what they have to say and to respond with action. This requires a shift in thinking, so that it is not us determining the learners needs, but together determining our learners needs. It requires everyone to be open to critique and feedback.

    We spend so much time planning for them, talking about them, meeting about them, but never engaging directly with them to ask how school is actually working for them. To do this would require us to become uncomfortable and to perhaps hear things that we would rather not be said. On the other hand, it would also allow us to celebrate legitimately what we are doing well. Any change must begin with what is traditionally the most disempowered group in the decision making that occurs around education – the learner. And then I think that same question should be asked of teachers, parents and administrators. If we were willing to have this open conversation we would truly transform education into something that suits the 21 century.


  5. My question is how can we enhance our learning organization for everyone in HWDSB: students, staff and parents!

    What steps should we take? What would it look like?

    I think the answer to your question is being modelled right here in this type of conversation. Allowing teachers, student and parents to join the conversation, to let their voices be heard and to listen to others will help us (I speak as parent and teacher) to feel we are being heard. The fact that we are explicitly learning how to use a collaborative inquiry model to enhance our instruction (and our learning) is reassuring. We are learning in this digital age, more then ever, that our collective wisdom will move us forward. We are exposed to so many more opinions, pedagogies, thoughts, concerns, ideas and I am proud that we are getting the opportunities to discuss and unpack them all – together.



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