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Professional Practice

Illustration: Clare Owen/i2i Art

An illustrated checklist. On the checklist are nine names. Four of the names have checkmarks next to them.

Start your school year off right with a call home to parents. A message welcoming them and their child to your learning community will go a long way in fostering a positive parent-teacher dynamic. It also helps to calm any anxiety their household may be experiencing those first few weeks in September. So what should you discuss? Mention something positive that their child did in class and field any questions they might have. Scheduling these few moments for parents will help set the tone for the rest of the year and allow for a more open line of communication throughout.

Chris Lee, OCT
Teaching/Learning Coach
Model Schools for Inner Cities
Toronto District School Board

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Enterprise On The Rise

By Stefan Dubowski

In the past, entrepreneurship was a lesson taught in business class. Today, it should be core for all students, according to Ryan Burwell. He’s the curriculum lead in entrepreneurial thinking at MaRS Discovery District, a non-profit organization that helps launch and grow innovative companies.

“The types of careers we’re preparing students for are built rather than obtained,” he says. “The ability to carve their own paths is a fundamental skill set and mindset.”

The rise in self-employment is an important consideration. According to Statistics Canada, the number had reached some 2.77 million in January 2015, up from 2.71 million in 2014. Students who lack entrepreneurial skills will be at a disadvantage in this trend toward self-sufficiency.

Help students build an enterprising mindset and harness their full potential with the Entrepreneurial Thinking Toolkit for K–12 Educators ( Developed by MaRS in co-operation with Ontario teachers, this resource provides the opportunity to incorporate entrepreneurship into any subject.

The kit has five modules that can be taught individually or combined for larger projects. “We want you to use this to enrich the materials and activities you’re currently teaching,” Burwell says. Topics include developing personal brands, solving problems with design, validating ideas and changing strategies.

Several Ontario schools have used concepts from the toolkit to enhance their students’ entrepreneurial awareness. One analyzed and promoted their school brand, boosting students’ marketing chops and school pride. A Grade 8 class prototyped a glass for people who suffer from multiple sclerosis.

But the toolkit is not limited to the older grades. “We had students in Grade 2 testing prototyping techniques to solve problems,” Burwell says. “It’s neat how children that young embody what it means to be creative and entrepreneurial.”

“It enriches the school experience,” he says. “Self-direction and problem-solving is how we’re programmed to learn.”