Change It Up Changes Lives: Education for Everyone


© Courtesy of Classroom Connections

Professional development for those who help

Since 2010, Classroom Connections has been running the Change It Up (CiU) program within Alberta First Nations—and the results have been amazing. Run primarily as a six-month program for those who had left the education system and were struggling to move forward in a healthy and productive way, the program has helped people to connect with and value themselves, recognize their strengths and take action for a positive future. Classroom Connections knows that learning is a lifelong process, and the CiU initiative is built on the belief that self-development and barrier removal will create the necessary foundations for acquiring the skills needed for success and, ultimately, for getting and keeping employment.

"Being in CiU taught me to be more responsible, outgoing, independent, and most importantly, confident. Without the program, I wouldn't be where I am today. I became a better person, I make wiser choices. I am more knowledgeable in both life and working skills. I obtained a job that I enjoy doing. I've come a long way from where I was before." — Lorna, CiU Participant, Maskwacis

Thanks to support from Skills for Success Canada and the Government of Alberta, Classroom Connections is now sharing what they learned by offering free online Professional Development to train others in the CiU philosophy and approach.

“We saw that what we were doing worked,” said Heather MacTaggart, Founder and Executive Director of Classroom Connections and the CiU initiative. “The question was, how to spread the success? It wasn’t just a matter of sharing our programming, as good as it is, because the ‘how,’ our approach and philosophy, of working with people was even more important than the ‘what’ of our training material. That is why we began running online group facilitator training, to share our ‘how’ with those in human services, the people working with people to facilitate growth and change.”

classroom connections
© Courtesy of Classroom Connections

Learner-centred, trauma-aware, and strength-based, the Change It Up Professional Development (PD) program provides an opportunity for facilitators, educators, and instructors to dig deeper, asking questions like:

  • How do we help facilitate growth and change in the people we serve?
  • How do we support learners or clients with a multitude of complexities that can impact their journey?
  • How do we support ourselves while navigating working in a ‘helping’ profession?

Change It Up PD is designed to build the capacity of facilitators, educators, instructors and client or learner-support professionals—and it works. Feedback from the hundreds of participants reports that:

  • 100 per cent “feel more confident using strength-based approaches with learners and clients.”
  • 98 per cent “have more tools, techniques or approaches that will help me do my job better.”
  • 97 per cent “would recommend this course to others.”
  • 99 per cent feel the course was “worth the time invested.”

Informed by a large body of research on how humans learn and how people can mitigate the lasting effects of trauma to thrive in their own lives, the CiU program is an intense collaboration of staff and participants. When we build connections and relationships, we fortify confidence and leadership.

To learn more or register for Change It Up professional development training, please visit

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Change it Up provides strengths-based, soft-skill training in ready-to-use workshops that are holistic, hands-on, learner-centered and trauma aware. That’s our ‘What’.


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