It’s time to try something new

It was a three year gig. That's what John Laverty — the superintendent at the time — told me, in the principal's office at Dundas Central when he offered me the job back in 2010. He said I would need to be thinking about what I wanted to do next, which seemed ludicrous, having just been told that I had secured my dream job.

I had wanted to be on the IT Team (that's what it was called back then) pretty quickly into my first year teaching. I was hired to take over Ian Pellizzari's class — teaching Computers to the Middle School students at WH Ballard — while he went off to the Memorial Building to join Marilyn Legault in supporting the use of technology in elementary classrooms in HWDSB. I had no formal training in computers, and hadn't used a Windows computer since high school, but soon I was teaching students how to build websites with HTML, and games in Flash, and Tessellations in Fireworks. It wasn't long before I was volunteering to run after school in-services at the Ancaster Memorial Building on building video games and blogging with students. I was hooked.


I got the job in June of 2010, as the Elementary IT Team Consultant. By the time I had returned to work from summer vacation in September, the job had changed: no longer split by division, the team would all be supporting K-12, the team name had been changed to the 21st Century Fluencies team, we had been moved within the organization, from the Computer Services portfolio, into the newly formed Leadership and Learning Department.

I've been here so long, only a few people will get this reference.

When I was hired Growing Success had just been released. The elementary report card had been drastically changed, and at the time, supporting report cards was a big portion of the job. The software was a buggy mess, attempting to attend to the shared space of the new Progress Report, and I spent most of that first year on the phone with tech support. Somewhere in the digital ether is a video of me sipping from a Marilyn mug, reading Growing Success, and introducing the new report card software. For a time it was the intro to the 20 minute Camtasia walk-through video that is still used today to help teachers navigate mxWeb.

When I was hired, schools weren't allowed to purchase iPads. Eventually Lisa found the funding to purchase 30: 10 per cluster of schools, that could be borrowed as kits, so we could make a case for their use in classrooms. One of our requests was that schools that borrowed the kits blogged about their experiences. There's a great archive of those posts available over here.

When I was hired, we used First Class for everything. The HUB existed, but you weren't allowed to use it unless you were teaching eLearning. You could use Google Drive, but you had to request student accounts, and I would batch create classes using a csv file pulled from SchoolConnect. You could blog in First Class, but it was awful, so Aaron Puley and I built the Commons, based on a platform I had built in my classroom called Litcircuits (a play on digital literature circles). The first version we piloted lived at, a domain I probably should have held onto. 

When I was hired, we each had our own YouTube channel where we would post tutorials and other stuff…

So Paul Hatala and I built, then when that broke, we built (twice), creating a centralized space to house our tutorials, and the video creations of HWDSB students. We continue to be the only school board in Ontario I am familiar with who maintains their own Open Source built video platform.

I spent two years on the creation of the 21st Century Learning and Technology Policy, and its related directives. You can see some of that process here.

When I was hired, 1:1 was an unfathomable possibility, reserved for private schools. I witnessed the emergence of 21st Century Learning as a key strategy at HWDSB, and helped to forge brazen pathways forward to equitably equip students with the tools they need to compete in an ever-changing future.

I've worked with some amazing individuals. I'm incredibly proud of the innovations and creativity that has come out of this small team, and will continue when I'm gone. Thank you for your support, and friendship, and for being the most amazing team I have worked on.

I've tried to be helpful always. Tried to be quick with email responses, knowing that there was a teacher trying to do cool stuff with kids waiting on the other end. I've tried to promote open platforms like the Commons, and tried to help people share beyond the walls of their classrooms, because it's that connection to outside experts, to parents and community members and authentic audiences, that I believe makes for deeper learning opportunities. I've tried to find ways to make blending learning in your classroom easier. Tried to gently push people to try new things.

I'm going to go work with students with learning disabilities in the Centre for Success now, to help them understand how technology can help them to navigate the education system. I'll continue to share here, and I'll continue to build materials to help you support students like the those who will be visiting my classroom at Elizabeth Bagshaw. I imagine you'll find the strategies universally applicable.

It's time to try something new.

Published by jarbenne

Jared Bennett is the Student Information System Consultant at Hamilton Wentworth District School Board.

Join the conversation


  1. Thank you Jared for all of your help to transform learning for my students and for transforming my classroom practices. You will be wonderful in your new job and Elizabeth Bagshaw is lucky to have you.

  2. Congratulations on a job well accomplished! It was always a vibrant experience working with you. As the face of IT teaching supports in the elementary panel you have amassed a great toolbox of adult learning strategies that I hope you will continue to exploit. Best of luck in the future! DerekWiner

  3. Wow Jared! Congratulations and all the best on your next journey!! Thanks for always being an email away!!! Back in the commons start up days you were a life saver!!! Cheers!

  4. Hey Jared! I just read your blog post. It is a simultaneous loss and gain for the HWDSB. As a system you have continued to move us forward in the very long and sometimes difficult journey into the 21st Century. There is still so much work to do and your expertise will be missed everyday. I can’t even begin to express how lucky our students that “learn differently” will benefit from you being their guide on the amazing journey they are about to embark on as part of their Centre for Success experience. I too have been privileged to work with you, learn from you and in turn became a better teacher and administrator with your ongoing support. I wish you much fulfilment as you begin your new work. Congratulations! I can’t wait to see what you do next!

  5. That’s awesome Jared. It’s a program my son’s teacher is recommending for him although he hasn’t formally been identified. What a great learning experience for all kids really.

  6. Jared, when I heard you were leaving the 21st Century team, I didn’t want to believe it. Thank you Jared, for always being there, for stretching our thinking and giving us the tools to move forward in our digital world. You will be missed and I wish you all the best in your new role.

  7. Jared, I think that just reading the comments here speaks to all that you’ve done for everyone, and the impact that you’ve had on teachers and students alike. I cannot even talk about blogging without mentioning the wonderful “Jared Bennett, “ and how he’s helped me, given me a new idea, or inspired me in some way. You got me started on blogging. You convinced me to purchase my own domain name. You got me to try things that I wasn’t so sure I could do, & helped me see the value of these options for kids & for me. You’re going to do incredible things at The Centre For Success, but at a system level, we’re also losing someone quite remarkable. Thanks for still sharing your knowledge with all of us and supporting all of us in so many ways. You’re truly one of a kind!


    P.S. I get all of the references in this post. Does this make me old? 🙂

  8. Congratulations on the new position, Jared. Our paths have crossed every now and again and I always walked away all the wiser for it. Your description of the impact that you’ve had on the students, teachers, and system so far is very impressive. The Centre for Success will most certainly gain from your efforts and insight. I wish you all the success in the world in your new endeavour and look forward to reading all about it here.

  9. I wish you well I n your new position! I so appreciated getting to know you through COCA and having you as our team leader for the Ministry resource. Enjoy your new challenges and keep on learning,,,

  10. Congrats Jared!
    You have been a lifesaver on numerous occasions! You really helped push my thinking forward as a teacher. Best wishes in your new adventures.

  11. Jared congratulations on your new role! I will always be grateful for your leadership and support at Adelaide Hoodless with TLE and the STAT team. You are a true inspiration. Wishing you all the best!

  12. What a journey Jared. You have taught so many people so many things; too bad we couldn’t have worked together for longer. All the best at the centre for success!

  13. What a terrific journey down memory lane. It’s incredible to see how much you’ve contributed during the pioneering years. Long before TLE had its own acronym it was being birthed by you and the others who had a vision for what could be possible in 21st C classrooms. I’ll bet your innovative spirit will be alive and well in your new role and a few years hence you’ll write another blog with many new learnings. Congratulations!

  14. Well done, Jared!
    Congratulations on the new job, and
    thank you for always being so helpful.

  15. Congratulations, Jared. You have been a fantastic support over the years and I can’t tell you how much I will miss you. Sharon

  16. Jared, I am excited for you to try this particular “something new”. I feel very passionately that our most vulnerable learners benefit the most from technology integration/access. I pushed this philosophy hard core when I taught life skills. It was so disappointing when the program was closed. I firmly believe that you will be the advocate that these children need. You are the perfect person to enter this role to shake things up and call attention to these issues. Our special learners need more of us supporting them in this way! Best wishes on this new adventure.

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