I learned a valuable lesson today (#flatclass Book Club, Part 3)

 

Chapter 4, Communication, focuses on the need to develop the “techno-personal skills”, the online habits, which sustain online collaboration and networking. For me, some key ideas from this chapter relate to the nature of online communication tools, and some handy ideas for efficient, inclusive communication between teachers and students involved in global collaboration.

While I was originally going to focus this post on ways we could improve the #globalclassroom handshakes, I’m going to jump ahead a little, and write about something I learned today (relating to Chapters 4 and 5).

The situation

Today, I invited a teacher from the Middle East to join an upcoming #globalclassroom project. A little later, I became concerned that involvement in this project might inadvertently place this teacher in a difficult situation …  relating to the volatile political situation in the region.

Sadly, I was correct.

We talked about the issue, and our teacher decided to decline the invitation.

I was disappointed, but relieved that I hadn’t put my friend at potential risk.

I had learned a valuable lesson

When we collaborate globally, our ignorance of cultural and religious differences can have dramatic, unintended consequences in the lives of real people, in the real world.

We need to learn about, and be sensitive to difference. Yes, this seems obvious, but is so much harder in practice – as we “don’t know what we don’t know”.

This is why I believe it so critical to have open, public and private communication channels for global collaborative projects, and why it is so essential to build trusting, respectful relationships with the teachers you work with.

We need to create the space for people to talk and get to know each-other. I have personally learned so much about other people through mindless conversations about our lives and families – via Skype IM and Twitter conversations. These conversations usually occur in private mediums, and help to build mutual trust and respect. This means that when potential issues arise, when we are not sure about something, we feel more confident in asking for clarification behind the scenes.

As teachers, we can’t teach our students to be ‘culturally aware’ if we don’t understand, and model this awareness ourselves.

You don’t realise what this means until you’ve experienced it first-hand. It truly seems the more I learn, the less I know.

So, looking ahead … 

I hope, over time to get to know my friend a little better. If permissible, I’d love to just chat about our work & life from time to time …  I know so little about her culture, work, and way of life. If not, I hope she can at least point me in the right direction.

Inshallah.

Teacherpreneurs – Connect, Create, and Collaborate (#flatclass Book Club – Part 2)

Chapter 3, Connection, is the first installment of “The Seven Steps to Flatten Your Classroom“. It was focussed on ways teachers and students can create their own Personal learning Networks, using push and pull technologies to make the enriching global connections which underpin their learning, sharing, and collaboration.

Despite suffering from severe information overload, there were a few quotes and ideas in this chapter which really stood out, helping me to understand a little more about my own (technology enabled) learning habit, and educational mindset.

 Flickr CC Licensed: ‘Working Together Teamwork Puzzle Concept’

 

“When you know how to connect effectively, you have the power to learn”

Personally, this idea reflects my own experiences over the past year. On March 22, I celebrated the first anniversary of my first-ever global project, the very first time I was able to connect my students with the world.

I have been on Twitter for maybe 14 months, yet my global connections have transformed the way I teach, and the way I learn. My connections have led to wonderful global friendships, amazing educational partnerships, and quite literally impacted on students’ learning around the world.

I couldn’t do the work I do without my wonderful PLN, who support, inspire, and educate me on a daily basis. This is humbling, but it is a fundamental truth.

The Teacherpreneur – My “Ah-ha” Moment

A teacherpreneur is a person who seeks to enrich their classroom learning environment by “forging partnerships with other classrooms with common curricular goals and expectations. They accept the risks and responsibilities for the endeavour, and are accountable for the outcome.” (p. 44).

“Good teacherpreneurs aren’t renegades, they are connectors” (p. 45)

As I frantically scribbled “YES!!” in my notes, I realised that this concept defines what I have become over the past few months. While I haven’t yet had the opportunity to make meaningful, long-term connections within my own school and classroom learning environment, I’m helping to connect teachers around the world

‘Teacherpreneurship” is the idea which underpins the #globalclassroom community – we have created a place where teachers can work together to forge global partnerships, explore ways to extend their curriculum through global connections, and share responsibility for the ultimate success of their projects.

And this is an idea worth sharing.

 

My Project for World Water Day 2012

Cross-posted on The Global Classroom Project blog (20/3/2012)

A little history

A year is a very long time in the life of an educator, and as the #globalclassroom co-founder, it is hard to believe I am days away from commemorating the first anniversary of my very first global project.

Back in 2011, I ran the World Water Day 2011 International LinoIt Project; enabling my students to connect, and share their understandings about water conservation and WaterWise practices with children the world.

This project had over 2200 international hits within a week, and helped my former school achieve “Star WaterWise School” status here in Western Australia.

 

We’re back for “World Water Day 2012”


Take the opportunity to share your students’ learning with the world!

The World Water Day International LinoIt Project (2012) is open to K-12 classes worldwide. Watch the video, explore the issues, and encourage your students to share their thoughts, learning, and solutions with the world!

A note for teachers: Please tell your students that their comments are moderated, and that inappropriate comments will be removed. This is a PUBLIC document, and should be treated as such. Thankyou.

Project LinoIt Page: http://bit.ly/WorldWaterDay2012

 

We hope you will join us, and share your thoughts, pictures, videos on our LinoIt Page on March 22, 2012.

“It is time to be the voice of change” – (#flatclass Book Club – Part 1)

 

Global collaboration is a journey which tends to take you in unexpected directions!

 

A year ago, I would never have dreamt that I’d be reading and reviewing Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds, nor would I have believed I would have the chance to connect and learn with the authors, Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis.

Rather than writing an ‘official book review’, I’ve decided to record my musings on the #flatclass book as I try to engage in the online book club over the coming weeks.

So, here are my musings on Chapters 1 and 2.

 

“21st century skills harness not only the power of technology, but the power of people” (p. 3)

Reading the introductory chapters, I was taken aback by the parallels between my recent (unpublished) writings about #globalclassroom, and the #flatclass authors’ thoughts on effective global collaboration.

Having written almost exactly the same words a few days previously, this statement reinforced one of the key lessons I’ve learned leading Global Classroom – that while our work was made possible by technology, it is our people who have made it a reality.

Our work has been successful because our teachers, all over the world, are actively supporting each-other’s professional learning, and sharing responsibility for the management (and success) of our #globalclassroom projects.

 

“The aim of global collaboration is to improve learning, flatten classroom walls, and develop authentic audiences” (p. 4)

As I wrote some time ago, we are creating “the online spaces for teachers and students to connect, share, learn, and collaborate on a global stage”. And we’ve succeeded in building community; providing the space and support network for teachers to connect and collaborate, where they can experience the powerful impact of global collaboration and learning first-hand.

Built by teachers, for teachers, The Global Classroom Project is enabling our students to share their learning with the world; and helping our teachers explore innovative, transformational teaching and learning practices. We’ve opened up a window to the world, and we can’t go back.

 

“Connect one person at a time, build trust, and move forward together.” (p. 20)

I was struck by Suzie Nestico’s comment in the first #flatclass book club session relating the success of global collaboration to “building trust in the online environment”, going beyond the intitial connections to engaging in meaningful collaborations.

We are starting to make this happen, particularly in our Skype group, where teachers, who came to us with little confidence and collaborative experience, are building online connections and friendships through IM conversations and skype calls.

With a little support and encouragement, these teachers are starting out on their learning journeys, beginning to engage in their very first, more meaningful global collaborations. Yes, these are small steps, but these teachers’ stories are inspiring their colleagues – locally, and around the world.

 

“It is time to be the voice of change.” (p.20)

“Learning globally includes making a difference to the world.” (p.7)

I never expected to lead the creation of a global learning community. I was ‘just’ a second year relief (substitute) teacher, who has never had a class of his own. Yet, my social networking presence enabled me to make that initial connection with Deb Frazier in Ohio, USA; and later, it provided the connections which underpinned the collaborative development of the Global Classroom community.

As Deb and I look forward to celebrating the first anniversary of our ‘Twitter connection’ in April 2012, we can’t believe how our #globalclassroom spaces have become vibrant, community-minded forums where our teachers and students are connecting, making friends, and beginning to collaborate globally.

We are making a difference in the world, and helping teachers become the “voices of change”.

 

So, I conclude with a simple “thank you”

Julie and Vicki, it is hard to believe that an exploration of the #flatclassroom website and project wikis would kindle a teacher’s dream, and ultimately lead to the collaborative creation of a new global community.

But it did.

My work has changed the way I see and interact with the world. I now have friends across 6 continents, and find myself in the extraordinary position of leading a global education community in my third year of teaching.

I have a lot to learn, yet I suspect I am becoming “a voice of change”. I’m helping to make a difference in the world; and as our grassroots community continues to grow and evolve, I’m not alone.