This school year started in July, 2011 with a spectacular trip to the iEARN Conference and Student Summit in Kaoshiung, Taiwan. There I met the most inspiring teachers from around the world…Egypt, The United Emirates, Jordan, Japan, Canada, Brazil, Morocco, among many others. I spent the early mornings strolling along the walking paths in the wooded park across the street… being overtaken by the silence and calmness of local people in mediation, doing Tai Chi and walking mindfully. The evenings were spent with new friends being amazed by the shrines, temples and other sights of Kaohsiung and wandering around the night markets filled with curious food, lively crowds, and sounds and smells of all kinds.
At the conference, I was privileged to meet and work directly with some of the iEARN staff. Now when I see Diane, Mandee, or Losira in an email or newsletter, I can attach a face to the name and smile in warm memory. Many of the diverse and interesting groups of teachers I me and worked with in the conference sessions are now friends I keep up with on Facebook, Twitter and email. In November, several of us presented online together at the Global Education Conference. Our school, Mill Creek Elementary in Geneva, IL, USA, is committed to global awareness. We have a School Improvement Plan goal written to incorporate it into our curriculum. I began participating in a variety of global projects to address this school goal, but I continue because I have found so much benefit in them. My students really love interacting with kids worldwide. Working globally has been a highly engaging way to incorporate collaborating, researching, writing and reflecting into the curriculum. During the past school year, my class participated in the Holiday Greeting Card project and the Daffodil project. We had opportunities to exchange photos and emails to learn about our partner schools’ holiday celebrations and lives. From those experiences, I met more wonderful teachers that I continued to collaborate with all year. I will be wrapping up the school year visiting Maja Kovacic at the POS Socka school in Nova Cerkev, Slovenia as I pass through on a trip to Hungary.
In April, I presented at an iEARN webinar connecting iEARN projects to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) being adopted by the majority of the USA states. I am very excited about the opportunities to embed more global projects in the curriculum to add the depth and richness needed to achieve the CCSS.
The year has been indescribably richer with the events, people and collaboration iEARN has offered me as a teacher. The benefits my students derived from these experiences, activities and interactions are priceless. I ended the school year by giving a very enthusiastic iEARN presentation to our staff, and I am so excited that many of our teachers will be incorporating iEARN projects into their curriculum next year. I am anxious to begin a new year participating in the Learning Circles with my next class. Working with other teachers around the world has made me a better teacher, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunities and connections that iEARN has given me.