2011: A Year of Change

2011 marked a time of upheaval, new possibilities, and transformative change in my personal and professional life. As I begin my third year of teaching,  I believe I’ve finally found my educational niche, my calling. While I still don’t know where my journey is taking me, I know I’m heading in the right direction.

So, what were the events & experiences that defined my year?


1) The Class “That Never Was”

This traumatic episode at the beginning of my school year is one I have no desire to repeat – ever. Yet, this event turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me at the time.

The diverse teaching role I took up afterwards proved to be a valuable learning experience; an opportunity to take risks, and develop my skills and expertise within a real-world school environment.


2) My experiences with Personal Learning Networks

My experiences with building, writing about, and presenting on Personal Learning Networks are perhaps the most rewarding of my year.

It is hard to fathom how my early friendship with “Sir Clive” (@clivesir) ultimately had such an incredible impact on my personal and professional life; yet my social networking and engagement with the online education community opened up a whole new world of opportunities, and took me to places I’d never dreamt of. 

It feels like forever, but in literally one year after discovering Twitter and PLNs, I’ve:

  • Found my voice on a global stage, earning the respect of my peers and colleagues around the world.
  • Presented online at two international global conferences, and written several influential blog posts – which helped me rapidly expand my online network
  • Made and met new friends whom I would never have met under ‘normal’ circumstances.
  • Collaborated with teachers across 6 continents, leading the creation of the Global Classroom community
  • Found a source of inspiration, support, and mentoring like no other.


3) The realisation that I’m not alone.

As a relief teacher, it is hard to develop long-term collegial relationships, and I’ve often struggled to find people who understand and appreciate my work with ICT and global education. Yet, as I’ve blogged on several occasions this year, I no longer feel alone and isolated in my profession. 

This year has had its glimmers of hope and opportunity. At the start of the year, I found someone who believed in me; who went out of his way to ensure I could experiment with ICT, and fought on my behalf in the complicated mess that was my contractual situation at the time. Ultimately, he talked me into the situation which enabled my involvement in Global Classroom; an opportunity for which I am extraordinarily grateful.  

Now, as my year draws to a close, I no longer feel alone. I may not have my own class, yet I have built rewarding collegial relationships with teachers all over the world. By seizing this year’s opportunities to experiment with ICT, I have changed the way I teach, and the way I learn. I now have contacts all over the world, and I am grateful for their support, inspiration, and appreciation of my work.  

In 2012, I will continue my search for a school where I’ll have the opportunity to learn, grow and innovate. I’m confident that I’ll eventually find it. I’ve built an extensive digital footprint showcasing my work, and I’m open to offers.


4) Building Global Classroom

As I look back on the extraordinary events and opportunities afforded by Global Classroom over the past few months, I am still astonished by my integral role in creating what has become a global learning community.

In the space of a few months, we launched a range of #globalclassroom projects, were nominated for an Edublogs Award; and I even found myself skyping with the Indian Finance Minister to co-inaugurate the The Learn English Online Project! But for me, it is the connections and friendships which mean the most.

We’ve created something bigger than ourselves, a community impacting on the lives of teachers and students around the world. I am truly proud of our efforts, and look forward to seeing where it takes us over the months, and maybe years, to come.

So, another year in the life of an educator draws to a close.

Here’s to 2012. May it be a better, rewarding, transformational year.

 

Be Careful What You Wish For

This is the third in my series of posts detailing the origins & development of the Global Classroom Project: 2011-12.

Shortly after the successful completion of Global Classroom 2011 in July, I was rather surprised to hear that Deb Frazier (@frazierde) wanted to do it all over again! She wanted the second project to run for the duration of the American school year (9 months), and hopefully involve classes across 6 continents.

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Deb created a Google Doc entitled “Ideas to Grow ~ Global Classroom”, which I shared via Twitter – inviting interested teachers to register their details, and brainstorm ideas for projects at different age levels. In a testament to the power of Twitter, we had over 30 K-12 teachers signed up within 3 weeks … and two stunned project leaders.

The first #globalclassroom project saw 8 primary (elementary) teachers collaborating on a single project. In light of the overwhelming response to our initial planning document, it was clear that this wasn’t going to happen the second time around. 

Having brought so many interesting teachers into Global Classroom 2011-12 through my global connections,  I was pretty happy with the response. As reality set in; however, I resolved to take responsibility for my actions. For someone whose family motto is “Never Volunteer”, the decision to lead the development of the #globalclassroom project proved to have unintended, but incredibly rewarding consequences.

As the old saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for” …