Why We Are Successful.

Something caught my eye this morning, and it was something that made me think about creativity. My wife had done our weekly grocery run yesterday, and at one of the stores they were giving children pictures of a bunny and eggs to color. The idea is simple, yet cunning at the same time. Spend pennies on photocopying coloring sheets and invite the children to bring them back to display in the store. This way the business achieves a goal; getting people in the building. Well played grocery store. Well played. It isn’t the stores business model that had me thinking, it was the uniqueness of each picture that my children had finished. Every picture was colored the way they wanted it to look, and each product highlighted their favorite colors.

At the exact same time the kids were showing off their art work, my wife was tending to the little seedlings that were growing in the egg cartons by the window. She is preparing for our garden, and something that stood out was how each little sprout looked the exact same. The little plants were all leaning towards the window at the same angle, all growing at approximately the same rate.

This contrast had me thinking about the way we are educating our students. Are we inviting the uniqueness that I saw in my kids’ art work, or are we asking our little seedlings to grow at the exact same rate, giving them the exact same thing?

Walking the halls of #WaldheimSchool, I know the answer. Here are some of the things I’ve seen lately:

  • an Instagram post from our home ec class celebrating the churros that two boys chose to create
  • a wide variety of projects that our industrial arts students are busy creating
  • numerous different small businesses that our grade 11 and 12 entrepreneurship students are managing as an assessment task
  • several unique creations in our biology class that our students made to identify and define the parts of plant and animal cells
  • a library full of individual cultural celebrations that our grade 1S students shared with the school
  • displays on the wall and in the art cabinet of distinct projects created by our students as they combine art with mathematics
  • phys ed classes being designed and lead by students who are bringing their own passions into gym class
  • grade 5 students planning their genius hour presentations
  • ELA students voicing and supporting their opinions in class either through spoken or written word

And that was just last week!

All of this creativity and choice reminded me of a terrific TEDtalk I saw a few years ago. Sir Ken Robinson shares in his presentation (below) the three important things we need to remember when we are dealing with learning:

  1. People are naturally different and diverse, and therefor they will all have different needs and motivations. It is our job to learn about our students and understand what it is that they require to succeed.
  2. Children are naturally curious, and are natural learners. It is our job to ask ourselves, “are we allowing this to flourish, or are we unintentionally stifling this”?
  3. People are inherently creative. We see this everywhere and I always chuckle to myself when I see films depicting a future where we all have the same ‘space-age’ outfits and all drive the same type of floating cars. We are all creative, so why would schools want to limit this?

If you have a moment to watch this video, I’d invite you to think about your role in our school. What resonates with you as you watch? Are there some things you think you could do differently? If so, could tomorrow be the day to take that first step?

I believe we are well past the time when we would view every student as needing the exact same thing, and if they could not learn the way they were taught, they needed to change how they learn. I am excited that we are on the leading edge, that we are a group of adults that understand that if a child does not understand then it is the teaching (not the teacher) that needs to adapt.

I will let you all in on a little secret. I know why the adults in our building are successful. We are successful because like our students we are:

  • Naturally different and diverse
  • Curious
  • Inherently creative

Here is what is on the horizon this week:


  • Staff meeting, presentations continue with Ellen, Mitchell, Chenile, and June sharing their learning celebrations


  • Bruce & Jesse at ALT
  • 7 – 12 progress reports due to office



  • Locker clean up (schedule set this week, Jamie will have supplies available)
  • 7 – 12 progress reports available to students today (paper copies by request)

As always, create a great week!


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About the Author: Bruce Mellesmoen