Innovators Mindset: Starting School From Scratch

The world in which we exist today is complex and changing rapidly. There is more knowledge, more research and arguably more opportunity than ever before. One could put an argument forward that we are on the right path, that education is gradually shifting to a better place. Yet I wonder, are we?


As highlighted here, the possibilities are endless and yes, the really answer is indeed likely closer to a book.

This question certainly fits my personal passion for change. My mind is flooding with thoughts and ideas: ¬†learning is messy, differentiated, innovate, accountability, technology enabled, maker spaces, coding, literacy, numeracy, learning commons, collaborate, ¬†real world context, problem solvers, analysis, literacies that fit the world in which our students live NOW, ¬†pre-service teacher training, shifting culture, speed of change, differentiation, linearity (or not), global context, contributing to society ¬†… well you get the picture.

For the purposes of this Innovator’s Mindset blog hop, I thought I would highlight a few¬†“must changes” on my personal list. ¬†Now waving the change wand ….


  1. Boundless & Joyful Learning Рwe need a simple yet differentiated free flow to learning centred around student passion(s) rather than the current model which is tied to grades and calendar years.  Stomp out content driven learning. You can read more about my ideas on engagement and personalization of learning [here]. 
  2. Learning spaces Рflexible, windows, filled with natural  lighting,  flexible furniture arrangements, no rows, learning commons/maker space style, student run white boards and  interesting colour schemes.  The design should focus on what you can do by bringing people together.
  3. Teachers as learning facilitators – ¬†innovators, risk takers, technology enabled, differentiators, and digital resources and tools, no ‘walls’, ¬†real world context (community and global)
  4. Assessment – Within the classroom perspective, we know a lot more about the importance of conversations, observations and products, frequent feedback and documenting learning – all good, but everyone must be ‘in’. ¬†“High stakes” testing through¬†provincial/(state), national and international assessment strategies need to change as the current model is far too linear and based on ages and grades rather than brain development and a variety of other factors. ¬†I believe we need to reach beyond literacy and numeracy.
  5. Professional Learning –¬†connected, self directed, self motivated learners (not sit and get), what is your next (not best) – thanks @pmillerscdsb

IM-9¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Plan Act Assess Reflect (PAAR) may indeed be more powerful as Assess Reflect Plan Act ¬†(ARPA). ¬† I believe we need to build a lot of capacity yet in the area of open sharing. ¬†Hallway and staff room conversations may be fantastic, but if you can’t search, access and share them then they are ideas and learnings in isolation. ¬†More of my thoughts on this are in my blog post ¬†Just Make It Public.

I hope some of these ideas have poked your thinking.  I invite you to comment here or connect with me on Twitter (@markwcarbone) or via  #innovatorsmindset.



Note: Image from:

6 thoughts on “Innovators Mindset: Starting School From Scratch”

  1. Thanks for having the courage to say some pretty radical things here, Mark! I applaud you. I’ve been moving further and further from provincial schools in search of a place where ideas like these aren’t so radical, even contemplating a private school of my own where it can blossom.

    Had a great learning moment today with a group of grade five students. I led a station in our schools maker space, where students were given toothpicks and mini marshmallows and asked to build a stable structure with multiple tiers and could withstand a twenty second simulated earthquake. Awesomeness followed as I documented the process in the students’ digital portfolio. They met challenges and had to problem solve in real time to overcome those roadblocks. They accessed a part of their brains that was beyond vocabulary and expression, to get to knowledge and understanding that they had built over their 11 years of experiential learning. We can now connect vocabulary and practice expressing our shared revelations.

    Louis was right, what a wonderful world!

  2. Hey Mark,
    This statement you mention below hits me quite powerfully. I think you‚Äôve just put into words what many have been thinking for a long time. As many of my colleagues and I love doing, sharing is a large part of what we do as learners and collaborators. You hit the nail on the head when you commented ‚Äúif you can‚Äôt search, access and share them then they are ideas and learnings in isolation‚ÄĚ. Makes complete sense. We have so much to share, yet little or no time to act upon it. As I sit home today, ridden with pneumonia, I‚Äôm still enjoying the opportunity to reflect and learn. I appreciate the insight that you and your colleagues share digitally.
    Stéphanie Ringwood
    Millen Woods P.S.

    Plan Act Assess Reflect (PAAR) may indeed be more powerful as Assess Reflect Plan Act (ARPA).

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