Sunday, August 1, 2010

Reflections on Identity

Wow! I'm coming off an awesome weekend at the Reform Symposium, a free online conference that went all hours of the night. I missed very few sessions over the weekend, which led to me not getting much sleep. So it's over now, and it's past midnight here... why am I not sleeping? I had to rewatch a particular session, because I enjoyed it so much!

I've gushed about it on Twitter, and I even took the opportunity to rave about it at the conference closing ceremony. It was a session by George Couros from Stoneyplain, Alberta on a special day he held in his school last year, called "Identity Day". The idea of the day is to have each student present something that is meaningful to them, and their identity. All students from kindergarten to grade six had the chance to present "science fair style" to all other students in the school. Not only this, but all staff participated (custodians, administrative assistants, cafeteria workers, educational assistants, etc.) It was a great chance for students to connect with each other, as well as for students to connect with teachers and vice versa.

George shared several specific stories in his presentation, including a second grader who was competing national in BMX, who then had something to share with another teacher who loves XGames! He also spoke of a pair of First Nations girls that presented on their culture. Parents were invited to these presentations, and the parents of these two children were so happy to see the students' pride for their culture. Finally, the one that was most touching was related to how to build acceptance among students. One of his students, who has Tourettes Syndrome, shared about this with her peers/teachers. Sharing information about it (including teaching her principal a thing or two!) brought acceptance, and the student was able to bring about this acceptance completely on her own.

So, it's great to reflect on this, and think, "Wow, that George Couros is an amazing principal!" But I want to go deeper with this one. As soon as this blog is posted, I plan on forwarding the link to the archived session to the head of Guidance at my school district. I think George has a passion, and I have caught it... now I want to make sure others catch that passion. I also plan on introducing my principal to the idea of Identity Day, in the hopes that I can give it a try with the school, but at the very least, with my own class.

This is one of those sessions where I can't see anyone seeing this and not wanting to do something! So what are you going to do?

If you would like to see the session for yourself, there's a link to it in George's blog. I highly recommend you subscribe!


  1. David,

    I am so honoured by what you have written here. It means a lot to me. I am very passionate about what I do but I have learned that my passion comes from working with students and seeing all of the wonderful things that they can do. They are so inspiring and do some amazing things when we give them the opportunities to shine.

    What I would LOVE to see is what you do with YOUR identity day. I am really looking forward to seeing how you let your students inspire yourself and those you work with. It was the most memorable day of my career and when your school does it, it might just be the same for you. I look forward to reading your blog post on it!

    Thanks again,

  2. Thanks for your comment George!

    I did send that message to the head of guidance, who said that she would be looking into it next time she's in the office! I'll be having lunch with some of the staff at my school on Thursday (just to spend time together - have I mentioned the staff at my school is AWESOME?) and I'll probably bring it up then. I'll definitely keep you posted!