Presentations & Workshops

As an educator, I enjoy meeting and learning with students, parents, teachers, and administrators around topics that will help drive education forward.

If you are interested, please contact me to check availability to come to your school or community to present and/or facilitate on the topics below (references are also available).

The Secret to Bringing Out the Best in People.
Start With Strengths.

If the stories we tell about our lives help to shape our identities, we need to consider the stories that our students are sharing about themselves with regards to their experiences in our classrooms. Chris will reflect upon the current status of education and challenge us to work to create the conditions for students’ stories from school to become a more positive narrative – one in which they are aware of their strengths, challenges, passions, and identity. Local examples are shared to highlight the power of a learning environment and community in which we key in on the strengths and interest of students. These stories from K-12 show how changing the lens to a strength-based model will not only help build upon those strengths but also provide us with a greater opportunity to support the areas of struggle. Educators will be challenged to think about how shifting their assessment and recognition of students makes their time in our schools more meaningful and allows all of us to build positive stories and identity around ourselves as learners and the work we do. 

This session is a keynote that also works well with breakout sessions that dive deeper into the how and what of strengths-based education.

  • Mighty Peace Teachers Convention (Grande Prairie, AB) – Featured presenter – March, 2016
  • TEDx LangleyED – TEDx Talk – January, 2016 (video above)
  • Abbotsford District Parent Advisory Council (with parent advocate Karen Copeland) – October, 2015
  • Cowichan Valley School District (Duncan, BC) – Keynote – May, 2015
  • Fort Nelson School District – Keynote – February, 2015
  • Webinar for the FORCE Society and Kelty Mental Health – September 2014
    • View this presentation here.
  • Prince George School District – Keynote – April, 2014

Wejr - Headshot TEDxShifting to a Strengths-Based Culture in Schools

(breakout session that follows the above keynote)

If the keynote session focused on WHY we need to shift our lens to a strength-based approach in schools, this breakout session will focus on the HOW and WHAT of this shift. The following topics will be discussed:
  • how to determine the strengths of our students and staff
  • ideas to move to a strength-based model in schools
  • ways to honour and recognize the strengths of our students
  • moving from MY students to OUR students
  • school-wide activities that build on the strengths of students and staff
  • ideas on how we can share the school’s strengths beyond our school walls
The session is designed for educators that want to create change beyond their classroom walls; participants will walk away with practical ideas that can start an immediate shift to a strength-based culture in their school.
Click here to view a sample of slides for this session.

Staff Culture. Bring Out the BEST in Your Staff

(Full day workshop or smaller 75-180 minute sessions)

How do we build an organizational culture that helps staff members to thrive and creates the conditions for innovation? Strengths-based leadership provides the lens and mindset that brings out the best in staff members and creates the conditions for increased trust, more collaboration and sharing, and a resulting climate in which people want to excel. Chris will share his “4 Pillars” of a positive staff culture and support this with research, proven ideas, and powerful stories from schools and the business world. Administrators and teacher leaders will walk away with ideas to not only shift mindsets but also create actions that will lead to a more positive organizational culture in schools and help to bring out the BEST in staff.

This session can be combined with sessions about Strengths-Based Education to create a day-long workshop that focuses on bringing out the best in both students and staff.

Click here to view a sample of slides of this session (February 2017)

Motivation From Within – Rethinking Awards and Rewards in Schools

(Keynote session or 90+ minute workshop) 

The vast majority of our students enter our schools in kindergarten with high motivation to learn but as they progress up through the grades, motivation and engagement tends to fade. Due to the many challenges facing our schools, educators often resort to a variety of incentives to try to motivate students to learn and improve behaviour to help create the optimal learning environment.  Schools also try to encourage students to excel by offering certificates, plaques, and trophies to those who do better than others. The use of rewards can become part of a school culture and awards are generally steeped in tradition… but what if we have this extrinsic motivation strategy all wrong? What if these tactics work in the short term but cause problems in the long term? What if there are students that go through our schools with strengths that are not valued nor honoured? Is there a better way to create the conditions for long-term motivation? Is there a way to move away from awards so more students are honoured, more students feel connected, and there is a more positive, inclusive school culture?

This session will challenge participants to rethink the use of incentives and awards; Chris will encourage you to look at ways to create the conditions for students to motivate themselves, including rethinking reward systems and traditional awards ceremonies. Participants will be challenged reflect upon their current views of human motivation and come away with ideas and strategies to move toward a more inclusive culture and increased intrinsic motivation for students in their classrooms and schools.

  • Central Alberta Teachers’ Convention (Red Deer, Alberta) – Featured Presenter – Feb 2017

Motivation from Within – Moving Away From Points, Prizes, and Pizza Parties

(Keynote or 1-2 hour breakout session)

The vast majority of our students enter our schools in kindergarten with high motivation to learn but as they progress up through the grades, motivation and engagement tends to fade. Due to the many challenges facing our schools, educators often resort to a variety of incentives to try to motivate students to learn and behave to help create the optimal learning environment.  This session will challenge participants to rethink the use of incentives and encourage them to look at ways to create the conditions for students to motivate themselves.  The following will be discussed:

  • the long term issues that can be caused by incentives/rewards
  • ideas to create the conditions for long-term (more intrinsic) motivation
  • how short term punishments can create further behaviour problems with students

Participants will be challenged reflect on their current views of student motivation and come away with ideas and strategies to move toward more intrinsic motivation in their classrooms and schools.

Click here to view a sample of slides for this session. 

Moving Beyond Traditional Awards Ceremonies

(Keynote or a 60-90 minute breakout session)

Have you ever sat through an awards ceremony and wondered if there is a better way to honour the success of students? Awards ceremonies are steeped in tradition and highly regarded by a few parents, students, and staff members; however, when we consider ALL our students, are traditional awards ceremonies at the end of the year the BEST we can do?

So many students and staff members have questioned the use of awards but have been unable to shift this practice to something that works to honour more students and value more (and different) success in schools. Chris will challenge participants to reconsider traditional award ceremonies by questioning their purpose, sharing research from the world of social psychology, and sharing success stories from schools that have moved away from this practice. He will also propose different ways to honour students in classrooms and schools that are authentic, meaningful, and work to bring out the best in more students throughout the year. This is NOT about participation ribbons and awards for everyone; this is about rethinking how we honour the efforts, growth and success of students throughout the year. By rethinking traditional awards ceremonies, we can create more success for more students and build a more collaborative, positive, and inclusive school culture.

Connecting With the Disconnected

Keynote and/or 90-minute workshop..

We know we cannot teach a child without a connection. Talking about the importance of relationships is nothing new but sometimes we need a reminder of our WHY.  With the high volume of tasks, checklists and day to day duties in schools, our why (larger purpose) of making a difference through relationships can somehow get lost.  The session is designed to be a summary and a reminder of what is truly important in education.

Connecting with students who are disengaged, acting out, absent, closed down, or have almost given up in school can be very challenging. Sometimes students, no matter how much we seem to try, will continually shut us out and/or push us away. As Russell Barkley writes, “The kids who need the most LOVE will often ask for it in the most unloving ways.”  We must remember our why, stay the path through the bad and the good to connect with our kids that need it the most.

  • Fort Nelson School District – Keynote – February, 2016

Believing They CAN: Creating Confident Learners

Developing confident learners is often stated as a goal for schools and educators, yet students continually enter our classrooms with low confidence and on a “losing streak” in school. This session will help participants to learn more about shifting to a strength-based approach in our classrooms and to look at the power of assessment in developing student confidence.  Participants will have the opportunity to:

  • discuss ideas and strategies to increase engagement through creating space for student strengths and interests in the classroom
  • reflect upon aspects of assessment practice and how these can build or tear down confidence
  • discuss ways to tap into the strengths of students beyond our classroom walls

This session is designed for educators who want to reflect on their current practice so that they can create change that benefits students within their classes; participants will walk away with reflections as well as strategies and ideas that can be immediately implemented in their classrooms.

Click here for a sample of slides for this session.

Thinking About Thinking Classrooms

Thinking critically and creatively are not new skills but seem to be more important now than ever. However, when we reflect on the tasks we ask our students to complete, many of these do not demand a high level of thinking. This workshop will explore Project Zero’s “Thinking Routines” and how these can be used to develop higher level thinking in classrooms and staff meetings. These straightforward routines are easy to use and can be immediately adapted for use in the classroom. This session is a “learning by doing” session so participants will be engaging in the tasks that can be then used in their classrooms and staff meetings.

Moving Beyond The Newsletter: How Schools are Using Technology To Meet Parents Where They Are

(Keynote or breakout/facilitated session)

Through the use of social media, we can better meet the needs of parent communication by sharing small bits of information more often. This can provide a “window in” to the happenings in school and help to better share the real story of a school. Leading with the WHY of parent communication, different tools are shared and explored to personalize parent communication to meet parents where they are.

This session can be designed for parents and/or educators.

Click here for a sample of slides for this presentation.

Educational Collisions: How Connected Educators Are Creating Positive Change

(note: this session is no longer being offered)

Change is happening NOW in education… but not through top-down policies and pressure. Through social media and the networking of passionate educators from around the world, we are seeing REAL education reform from the ground up. Technology has given educators a window into other classrooms and environments to borrow, build upon, and share innovative ideas to drive educational change. We are currently going through one of the most exciting and challenging times in education.  Change starts with a single step and technology can help us navigate these exciting and challenging steps together.

Chris will share powerful stories of real educators creating change that benefits both professional and student teaching and learning.  Although technology can help, it is only the educators that can truly make education reform a reality.

  • CanFlip Conference – Keynote – Kelowna, BC – June 2014
  • Indiana e-Learning Conference – Keynote – Lafayette, Indiana – June 2013
  • Breakout sessions in various school districts and conferences


Slides from recent presentations:


To access all my presentation slides, click here

Other examples of presentations/workshops:

Educational Leadership: Creating the Conditions for Passion and Innovation

  • October 2013 presentation for the annual global online education conference “Reform Symposium”.  Sharing stories of how schools are creating time and resources for teachers and staff to innovate, tinker with ideas and explore their passions

Creating the Conditions for Parent Engagement

  • presentation for the online series “Parents as Partners” with Lorna Constantini in November 2012
  • recorded online Blackboard Collaborate session can be accessed here
  • presentation for the MOOC series “Leadership 2.0: A Collaborative Learning Opportunity for School Leaders” initiated by George Couros
  • online Blackboard Collaborate recording coming soon

Intro to Assessment For Learning: Do We Coach or Do We Judge?

  • presented to the admin team in Fraser-Cascade School District in November, 2010
  • presented at Edcamp Vancouver in April, 2011

For blog posts on topics, click on the following links:

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