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2011 2011-Team Captains

Get in the Game – Learning, Leading and Play

Presenter: Shannon Smith
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Presentation Title: Get in the Game – Learning, Leading and Play

Presentation Description: This presentation explores the role school leaders assume in promoting play within learning environments. Play is intimately linked to creativity, the development of cognitive flexibility and a sense of belonging — all things critical for responsive and engaging places of learning. Through modelling a playful approach, school leaders create the conditions under which creativity, innovation, risk-taking and flexible thinking flourish.

iPod videomp3 audio

Link to presentation’s supporting documents:


  1. Kevin Hodgson

    Great presentation — and I agree with your point that purposeful play gets driven out of our learning environments as the kids get older. I do often wonder why that is? It might be that the pressure on teachers and students in a standardized testing era leads educators to think about play as “frivolous” activity.
    Your points about how we need to give room for purposeful play with technology and purposeful play. In workshops that I lead, I always to try to encourage teachers to “play” with media and tech as they consider the possibilities for their classrooms. And, as important, I give them time to do this. That part is often lost in workshop sessions. The space to take chances and invent something new.
    And then, reflect on what was learning through the play.

  2. Dave Edwards

    Great points made here. Leaders need to foster the culture of “play” and allow teachers to play as well as students. Standards continue to thwart innovation and creativity – so the question is how do we balance standards and “play”? I think your presentation begins to open the door to conversations that many leaders need to have about how to remove barriers to innovation (play) in our schools. I really want to see a focus in our PD models for fostering innovation in schools/classrooms and how leadership can do this. I like Kevin’s response in that he allows participants to play . .that play needs to occur at all levels – student, teacher, principal, admin, etc. in order for it to evolve into a habit and culture. Great work on this!

  3. Shannon Smith

    Hi Dave and Kevin,

    Thanks so much for leaving your comments. Kevin – I think the reflection piece is key – taking time to look back and explore what happens when we embrace the unexpected can yield wonderful learning opportunities.


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