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Transforming learning through global collaboration

Hi all,

Here's a question I hope you can help me think through. As our system begins to reculture, there are a few staff who have become very keen to try new things in order to meet the needs of their learners. As their repertoire grows so does the energy and engagement in their classes, which of course leads to them trying more new things, and so on. The trouble in this scenario is the teacher next door and across the hall, who even after two years of watching the keeners and participating in the same PLCs are not changing practice nor are they supportive of the work of the keeners. I am looking for strategies to help those teachers who are changing to keep changing. I sense that they may be beginning to limit themselves as a result of their neighbouring teachers' attitudes. 
I really appreciate your time to respond,
Julie

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Helen McConaghy mcconaghy@wellington.org via googlegroups.com 
Dec 4 (2 days ago)
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Hi Julie

 

What has helped this year at our school is the backing of the administration.  The administrator gives kudos to those being innovative and asks each teacher in their evaluative meeting what they are doing with technology.  It also helps that parents are seeing what is being done and are supportive.  Use the PR at your school to get the word out to families (not just the families of kids doing the projects) the cool tech happenings in your school.

 

Helen

Susan Adams <susan.adams@asd20.org>
Dec 4 (2 days ago)
to flat-classroom.
Oh, how sad that they are feeling a little discouraged.  We have tried for years and years to bring everyone on board with more advanced technology and have finally learned it really has to be voluntary.  If you can offer small trainings – at lunch, after school, during professional development days, to those who are excited, it will give them a “group” of like-minded people to ‘play with’ and they can encourage each other.  Our district wrote a grant to train teachers for 3 years in the use of some of these Web 2.0 tools.  The teachers get small group attention (which is KEY for those who are nervous) and they get substitute time to go to trainings and work on their projects.  That was a pretty big deal, but on a day-to-day basis, easing fear seems to be the most important thing.  If you give group training, you might have someone sit in the back beside the reticent teacher so that they can give personal coaching each step of the way.

And I agree with Helen – administrative support and encouragement goes along way!

 

Abena Bailey
Dec 4 (2 days ago)
to flat-classroom.
Agree with all of the above. Our PL model has changed this year, with the introduction of a new principal, to promote innovative practice. There is a growing culture of sharing, peer observation and we are all encouraged to undertake action-based research projects so we can share success with strategies. It's already had a huge impact - particularly on those naysayers, who can see that there are solid learning gains in a proven context (which is their own, rather than some other school/district they've never heard of). In the last 2 weeks alone, I've had one teacher sign up to the PBLU online course after saying she'd had enough of being a 'boring' teacher and another who's written her own PBL unit to move toward inquiry-based practice.
I would just reiterate that management plays a key role though.
And don't miss out on connecting them with vibrant online communities. Edutopia and Edmodo absolutely saved my sanity when struggling in a sea of negativity and cynicism. Having others (anywhere!) giving encouragement and support was of huge help in keeping me going and keeping the faith that what I was doing was worthwhile.

 

 

Barb bmorganf@smu.edu via googlegroups.com 
Dec 4 (2 days ago)
to flat-classroom.
Great discussion!
Phoenix Business business@phoenixschool.org via googlegroups.com 
Dec 5 (1 day ago)
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From personal experience:  I was privately intrigued by all the technology available to kids and was using some basic tools, but was intimidated by thinking bigger...too hard, too much time, no confidence in my ability to make something bigger happen.  
Then my teaching partner and I decided to jump in...she was the impetus.  Together we could laugh and fail and not be so worried.  Then FlatClassroom, Julie, Vicki, and everyone else involved became our mentors.  Their patience and unselfish guidance helped us turn the corner.  
So I guess my message is, take the lead and partner with one reluctant teacher.....yes, maybe even do all the work, but I think this is where we bring one teacher at a time into the fold, and then trust that each one will share their excitement forward as they become more confident going global and with technology in the classroom.
Barbara

 

Susan Adams <susan.adams@asd20.org>
Dec 5 (1 day ago)
to flat-classroom.
I LOVE that you are getting time for peer observations, Abena!  We were required to do that in my teaching licensure program and I don’t think anything else was more powerful.  We have talked about implementing this practice at my present school for years, but nothing ever comes of it. Again, you are right, it has to come from the leadership.  We are piloting Facebook , so haven’t gotten into Edmodo.  I think I will get more teachers to look at that after hearing you talk about the great support aspect.

 

Susan Adams

Sandy Wisneski <wisneskis@ripon.k12.wi.us>
Dec 5 (1 day ago)
to flat-classroom.
Great conversation. Julie, I had the same situation in our school and I am thankful I had admin support. This type of transition can be difficult and sometimes lonely to move forward. I have shared with the administration what I have been doing in my classes and this has created a domino effect. If you believe in what you are doing, others will slowly begin to pick up the excitement. We also have a technology mentor program in place in our district. We hold mini-workshops on areas of interest after sending out a Google form survey. Initially  attendance was slow but picked up as others caught on. You will not be able to stop the negative attitudes but your energy will start to spread. Don't be afraid to advertise what is happening in the classes with the entire school in an email.
Sandy
Mark Ginder <markibteacher@gmail.com>
Dec 5 (1 day ago)
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Seems like every year there are always people on staff that are very resistant to change (especially the integration of technology). Working in an international school free of national standards (M.Y.P. Framework), we are generally working on some incredibility inspiring things (for teachers and students). However, each of our co-planning teams always seems to have someone who is completely uncomfortable with taking risks with designing formative  and summative assessment tasks. Although, when we do get a good combination right we are able to reach for the stars, we still need to be understanding and patient if someone feels uncomfortable. Luckily, we have full time tech facilitators on staff who are on call during the day to sit and work with the teachers. Even then we still have a lot of people who do not like in to what we are doing at a one to one school. The best way I have found to bring teachers into the fold is to show them the evidence of the students learning. Deep down we all want what is best for our students, so if we see something that is overwhelming positive for their learning, it can be quite difficult to walk away. Coupling that with some really positive support and understanding usually gets our teams there after a few units, but not always. I agree with what a lot of people have echoed on here that it works best when we allow ourselves to laugh and fail together in a supportive way. Trust and respect in each other skills has to be cultivated over time like our own gardens. 

This year I received a full time E.A.L. support teacher in all of my classes who was in no way a Humanities content specialist. Although she had worked at a one to one school before, she found our platforms (OneNote/Portal System) super difficult to get her head around. Plus, I wanted to run a lead/lead model because I just do not see that often done in international education where we have such a high percentage of E.A.L. students. We really struggled at first, but the patience and space that we gave each other really has paid off. She was a new M.Y.P teacher, which meant that we were on completely separate I.B. paths. Seemed like long odds, but after encouraging her to take some technological risks (and watching some of my initiatives fall flat) we are now in a position to really collect data on how our co-teaching model is working for integrating an EAL instructor in a one to one environment. Hopefully, we collect enough data that we can start to work with other schools who employ the same model to find the best way forward for all of these amazing students! 


Cheers,
Mark Ginder
United Nations International School, Hanoi
 
 

Helen McConaghy mcconaghy@wellington.org via googlegroups.com 
Dec 5 (1 day ago)
to flat-classroom.
Julie

    This would be a great discussion to post on our Ning group and transfer all the comments received.  I have gained insight from all the comments and look forward to seeing what else is added.  Thanks for getting the conversation going.  I think you can see from the responses that it is a topic “near and dear” to all of us.

 

Helen - TWS

 


Julie A.C. Balen <jbalen50@gmail.com>
Dec 5 (1 day ago)
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What a tremendous discussion. Thanks to all who have contributed. When a teacher commented to me that she was thinking about "pulling back" because of the negative comments she has been receiving from her colleagues about the changes she has made to her teaching and the risks that she is taking, I knew that I could put the question here and get some support for her. This teacher has long been recognized as one of the best on staff. This year she decided to join the Global Read Aloud. This started with joining Edmodo and Kidblog, but we all know that once you venture out 'there'  there is no stopping at learning one or two tools. Quickly, she added Animoto, Wallwisher, Wordle, Voki, and Glogster to her toolbox. She is having fun and so are her kids. Writing production is up, and the class wants to collaborate with another class on a second novel. Now, I will share your thoughts and strategies to help sustain the momentum.
You guys rock!
And Helen, I will move this conversation to the Ning. Great idea!
Julie
Kathy Scarpato kscarpato@pavcsk12.org via googlegroups.com 
Dec 5 (1 day ago)
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I believe what you need to tell your staff member that it is not about the teachers, it is about students.   If she sees benefits in all this work to her class, she needs to continue.  It is just unfortunately for the students in other classes that are not engaging in such tools.

 

Kathy Scarpato  M.ED.
Master Teacher of Training

 

 

 

Abena Bailey
7:55 PM (17 hours ago)
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"others will slowly begin to pick up the excitement"
 
Absolutely! And sharing this thread is a great idea to give encouragement to those who need it :)
 
 
 

Barb bmorganf@smu.edu via googlegroups.com 
9:41 PM (15 hours ago)
to flat-classroom.
I agree with everyone that this should be posted to the Ning! Such great things to learn from each other! Thanks everyone for all your input. Looking forward to more . . .

 

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