The MakerSpace: Building Empathy, Equity and Inclusion.

There’s something about a two week holiday that really allows a person time to reflect, process and plan.  This holiday has allowed me to drift in and out around my thinking on Maker Education and how, when driven with a deliberate conscience, will embed opportunities for empathy in action, inclusion, equality and character development. The #MakerSpace movement has been a trending topic in 2016 and I am proud of our staff effort to embrace this culture of learning.

It wasn’t until October of this past year that we were ready to launch our space within our large elementary school.  We strategically chose Global Maker Day 2016 as they day that we would ‘open’ – however, the truth was, we were open all along.  You see, the Maker Movement isn’t about a space that is launched, but rather about a school culture that embraces collaboration, creativity, design thinking and innovation.  With this Global Maker Day launch and public acclamation that we were “Getting this Train Moving“, we raised some awareness in our community that we are a school that values innovation and the 21st Century Competencies.  The school culture is the key element, however, the space does allow us to have a large central location where classes can collaborate, materials can be shared easily and ownership can fall to everyone.  It is a space we can all be proud of, all participate in, and all feel included and equal in. This is the beauty of the physical space.


We still have some work to do in the area of best practice for materials storage and for sharing the learning taking place in the space. Ideas are welcomed!  Here’s hoping that 2017 will give us new opportunities to learn, new community and global partners to learn with, and like-minded schools to connect with and share our passions. What I do know is that 2017 will allow us to continue to highlight this physical space as a place of inclusion, equality and character development while harnessing the collective ideas of our students.  We will continue to empower these students, because kids can do amazing things!



The MakerSpace: Building Empathy, Equity and Inclusion.

The Learning Tornado

My Learning Tornado

Thank you Twitter for connecting me to inspirational educators, that I would not otherwise have ‘met’, who continue to inspire and challenge me.  Much of the buzz these days is on virtual professional development, allowing us all to learn the content that we require, at a time that works for our busy schedules and at a pace that suits us best.  In this digital world, we are learning how to learn.  And really, isn’t this exactly what we want for our students?

As I was going on my nightly ‘learning journey’ via Twitter, one of the blogs that jumped out at me was Peter Cameron’s SharesEase where he was taking up a challenge put out by Colleen Rose on her blog post called Draw a Line for Me. This post challenges educators to draw one line that reflects their personal learning journey in education. Sounds easy enough, right? What I thought would take 20 minutes of my time, turned into a day long reflection on where I’ve been and where I’m going. I considered what and who my greatest influences have been, reasons why my learning became stagnant at certain points and what helped to accelerate my passion for learning and teaching.


What I noticed from this exercise is that in the beginning of my career (and for the next 14 years), the majority of my learning was done on someone else’s time. Usually this meant content and initiatives that were mandated from the Ministry, our board, or our school and were completed at staff meetings, after school workshops or professional development days. Like most teachers, I did take occasional courses throughout the school year or in the summer but these were a ‘once a year’ thing due to cost. Informal collaborative learning with my wonderful colleagues was probably my most rewarding learning at the time (and still continues to be a large influence in my learning).

My learning curve increased in 2009 when I made a grade switch from Intermediate to Kindergarten, just to shake things up. A grade change will always bring a fresh perspective and a new enthusiasm for learning and teaching! With a new grade, I turned to the internet for resources and ideas and hooked into Facebook as my first social media platform. Over the next two years, online learning became a huge influence in my teaching and I harnessed the idea of 6 C’s as a pillar for my philosophy of education. I began to see the importance of digital literacy and the urgent need to teach these skills to our students.

And then the flood gates opened. In September of 2012 a family relocation forced me out of my ‘comfort zone’ called Norfolk County. I had to establish myself in a new Board of Education, and took this time to follow my new interest around digital learning. I began my M.Ed., put myself into the world of Twitter, and began a Ministry TLLP project, all of which allowed me to connect, learn and grow from other like-minded educators. By putting myself ‘out there’ and taking risks in my own learning, I realized the importance of being open to new challenges. I did not have all the answers, nor did I know all the best solutions but I did believe that hard work, a positive attitude and a genuine passion for learning would work to my advantage.   In the past year, I have worked as our system K-12 Connected Technology Teacher, become an Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, consulted with and presented to school boards across Canada, been a guest lecturer numerous times at Queen’s Faculty of Education and St. Lawrence College, and become a Vice-Principal of a large elementary school. Every new experience is an opportunity to learn something new. Talk about a learning curve!

The learning I have done over the past few years is largely in part to my ability to connect with others at anytime and from anyplace via social media. The digital world has changed the way that I learn and has caused my learning line to become a bit of a learning tornado. I have never felt so invigorated and passionate about education and the opportunities that are available to us, should we decide to grab on.

Join my PLN! @JBorgesEdu


The Learning Tornado