Last June, I read George Couros’ blog post about Identity Day. George is a principal at Forest Green School in Stony Plain Alberta, and he’s a very important part of my Twitter PLN. At the end of the last school year, all of the staff and students at Forest Green School prepared special projects about what matters to them. Throughout the day, George tweeted out photographs of these projects, and then he compiled these photographs and his thoughts about the day into numerous blog posts on Identity Day. I was inspired!
I thought that this was such a terrific concept that I brought it forward to the staff at my school, and they were eager to have an Identity Day too. Throughout the summer, I shared blog posts with the staff about Identity Day, including this fantastic presentation that George did for the Reform Symposium. When school started in September, we started discussing Identity Day more. Later a committee was formed, and the planning began. Throughout the planning process, other schools such as Chris Wejr’s school in British Columbia had their own Identity Day, and sharing their experiences helped shape ours too. Thank you!
The first week in May is always Education Week and Open House as well, and the committee thought that having Identity Day and Open House on the same day would be a great idea. That’s exactly what we did! Two days ago, Ancaster Meadow School had its first Identity Day, and it was a tremendous success!
Here’s my Top 5 List of What I Loved About Identity Day:
1) It builds community. Everybody at the school created an Identity Day Project. Projects were displayed everywhere – from the ones hanging on the caretakers’ door to the ones hanging on the wall in the hallway to the ones in the classrooms – and looking around the school on May 5th, it looked and felt like we all played an equally important role in the school community.
2) It builds self-confidence. Staff and students were sharing projects about what matters to them, and others were genuinely interested in these projects too. All around, you saw students that are usually quiet and uncertain, smiling, interacting, and enjoying themselves!
3) It teaches you something new about others. All day long, I heard students saying, “I didn’t know that about ________,” or, “Did you know that about ____________?” My class even reflected on what they learned about others based on the Identity Day Projects. I think that what students and teachers learned on Identity Day will help them connect with others for the rest of the year and into next year too.
4) It gets people talking. Oral language is so important, and I know that as teachers, we try to create meaningful ways for students to talk. Sometimes planning these discussions though just makes them come out as rehearsed. Identity Day resulted in real conversations taking place. Students were asking questions and engaging in discussions. What a great day!
5) It’s fun! Identity Day wasn’t about Success Criteria or test scores. It was a celebration of us. There wasn’t one right answer or one way of completing the project. Staff and students allowed themselves to be creative, and the results were amazing!
From the photographs and videos that my Grade 1 and 2 students took on Identity Day, here’s an Animoto Slideshow that I put together about this special day:
A special thank you to all of the staff, students, and parents for making Identity Day such a fantastic day for everyone! Thanks for sharing a little bit of YOU with the rest of us.
What are your thoughts on Identity Day? Would you want to have another Identity Day next year? Why or why not? What could make this day even better? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
An amazing experience when we give students the opportunity to share themselves. What I found most powerful about this day was not the day itself, but the continuous inspiration you get from the students because you know them so much better. Glad it went well!
Thanks George! I’m really excited to see how learning more about the students on Identity Day will shape our future interactions with them. What a great experience! Many thanks to you and your school for inspiring us!
Identity Day seems most powerful to me because it values kids’ passions. If we manage to make schools a place where passions can be developed an nurtured, I think most of our work would be done. You are an inspiration. Thanks for sharing.
You make a fantastic point here, Royan! Developing and nurturing the passions of our students and staff are so important. Thanks for the comment and the compliment too! This means a lot!
This is wonderful! I love the fact that staff as well as students participated. What a great way to find out what each other’s passions are. Thanks for sharing! I have some teachers in our 21st century cadre in my district will consider doing something similar next school year!
This is fantastic! I hope that you do give this a try next year. It really was an amazing experience, and having students and staff members involved made it that much more meaningful. Thanks for your comment!
This looks great and it sounds like it really helped to build a community at your school. My classes are all online and we are starting to develop onsite community building experiences for our home schooled students – I think this might be exactly what we are looking for to end of a great school year. Our art teacher has already said that her students would love the chance to display their work for everyone to see – something that happens in a traditional classroom regularly, but not in our virtual world. Thank you for sharing!!
What a great idea! I hope that you give an Identity Day a try. I’d love to see what it looks like for you.
Thanks for your comment, Morgan!
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