Cozy sitting in my favorite chair in my pajamas with a cup of coffee, my laptop, and my favorite fluffy down comforter, I settle in, along with teachers from around the world, to attend the launch of The Global Classroom 2011, a network of over 90 teachers worldwide committed to global collaborative education. http://globalclassroom2011-12.wikispaces.com. I stopped to question, “How did I get here?”
It started about 4 or 5 years ago after having a few conversations with our then new school principal, Andy Barrett (Twitter @andybarrett2000). We discovered a common interest: the nature of cultural understanding. We both came about it from different angles, but in its essence, it was the same. It took us many conversations to even understand our questions about it, and many more to try to figure out how to attempt a direction to pursue it from an elementary school perspective. We did not always agree or even understand each other, but our passion remained parallel. Andy decided to make a school improvement goal of it, and our formal quest had begun. A team of great teachers in our school joined his effort as the Global Perspectives team. This turned out to be a much bigger concept than our group had anticipated. As we were trying to hone in on what exactly we were trying to achieve and how we were going to do it, I continued on my own quest.
I was suddenly propelled forward with an email to our group. It said something like, “Hey gang, this looks cool. Let me know if you’re interested.” It was a link to the Flat Classroom Project developed by Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay (Twitter @coolcatteacher and @julielindsay). These women are true pioneers in the field. I joined A Week in the Life project,http://aweekinthelife.flatclassroomproject.org and off I went on the rich and diverse path of global collaborative education. This project, and the group of world-class teachers I worked with, sent me on a higher and more rigorous path.
Another link Andy sent the group was to www.iEARN.org (International Education and Resource Network). I subsequently received a scholarship to attend their annual conference in Taiwan this past July. (See my prior tumblr posts http://tiny.cc/74a50, http://tiny.cc/74a50, http://tiny.cc/8bqfk,http://tiny.cc/ce71t ) This is another incredible organization. I was able to meet face to face with teachers from around the globe in an amazing effort to connect and form bonds of professional commitment to our students.
I hear teachers say, “How can we fit that in? We have way too much to do already!” This is not an additional thing to fit in. It is a way to teach. Just like any teaching strategy. Using the state standards and the school curriculum, teachers choose projects that align with their content. Excellent teachers are continually looking for richer ways to teach content.
Let me see if I can outline a few things I have taken from this past year:
· I have had the opportunity to work with some of the absolute best teachers in the world.
· I have had to step up to keep up with these teachers, and it brings out the excellence in all of us.
· Challenging ourselves as a group is like climbing a mountain together. We all feel empowered, invincible, humbled, and honored, and it makes us all stronger. We are tethered together and are committed to success for all.
· The world is changing and anyone that is responsible for children can help them by giving them tools to work in a global society.
· There is no going back. Technology is here, rapidly changing, and crucial in our lives. We can use it to our advantage, and we can teach our kids how to use it responsibly.
· Collaboration, as opposed to competition, is the skill of the future. Let’s teach our kids this skill as we live as examples with the other professionals we work with.
· In any field, pushing ourselves to learn and grow wherever our passions lie brings out the beauty and power in each one of us, and that is so radiant it transforms the people around us.
I will forever be grateful to my friend and colleague Andy Barrett for our synergistic conversations. Anyone that knows him understood that he would not stay in that position forever. He is now the Director of Curriculum and Instruction in CUSD 304. I miss our conversations, but I am hopeful that we will find something to work on together in the future. In the meanwhile, my quest continues both with our Global Perspectives team and with my fellow travelers on the wireless network. Learning and growing with the some of the most powerful men and women pioneers in education is humbling and exhilarating and a true honor I am grateful for.