This is it: my final project

Photo by Aalok Atreya on Unsplash

A picture is worth a thousand words

Anonymous

Sometimes, a powerful picture can read us. When I saw this photo today, I saw myself in between two worlds, before and after COETAIL. You can be surprised to hear that but it’s the way I see myself.

Perhaps, it’s important to know that I’m a school librarian working in IBO schools for the last 14 years. Before, I was a system librarian for around 14 years at my university. I use to see myself in between technology and librarianship, not always finding my place. When I shifted to school libraries and international education, my doubts increased as I found myself in between pedagogy – school librarianship – technology.

My COETAIL journey made me ask myself many questions about my role at the school, my career as an educator, and my future. This photo at the peak of the mountain exactly reflects how I see myself now. I’m reaching the end of the journey with the ability to reflect on my experience to face a new beginning confident and balanced. 

My personal project:

When I was brainstorming about my final project, I wanted to improve a previous activity. But, when I shared it with the Head of Primary Division, he suggested me to do it with the PYP exhibition.

Big challenge! The exhibition is the final extended in-depth collaborative inquiry project of PYP students. I started my planning focus on ISTE standards for students but, as I was going on the first weeks of the projects, I added ISTE standards for coaches and leaders. 

Find here my planner and my slide deck

What the video is not showing:

The video is not showing my experience as a leader and a coach. Here you will find my challenges and satisfactions on those roles

a. As a leader

  • ISTE 1a Ensure all students have skilled teachers who actively use technology to meet student learning needs.
  • ISTE 1d Cultivate responsible online behavior, including the safe, ethical, and legal use of technology.
  • ISTE 3a Empower educators to exercise professional agency, build teacher leadership skills, and pursue personalized professional learning.
  • ISTE 3c Inspire a culture of innovation and collaboration that allows the time and space to explore and experiment with digital tools.

I requested the administration of the school to allow us to use Google Suite for Education, Common Sense curriculum for Digital Citizenship, and any other tool that will support online collaborative learning. It was an opportunity to challenge traditional practices and biases about technology in the class.

Training sessions with teachers were planned to improve their skills and to empower their own agency as educators. An empowered educator will help students find their voice.

We covered the following topics:

  • The importance of Twitter as a learning space

When we had the session, we were only two (Pyp coordinator and me) out of 9. Now, there are seven of us actively sharing on Twitter. They are discovering and beginning a new learning experience. 

During the exhibition, we posted the link of three students’ surveys and got 292 responses.

  • Google G Suite for Education

Teachers were introduced to different Apps. They were familiar with Drive, Google docs, sheets, and slides. We put emphasis on Google classroom, Hangouts, and Site.

Teachers chose Hangout as the official channel of communication between the members of each group. Each mentor created their groups and was part of the discussions.

I had training sessions with PYPx to work on Google classroom and the PYPX site.  

I had a training session about CARP design for K-6 teachers as it can be applied by teachers and students across the Primary Division.

  • Google Site

PYP team were also guided on how to use the Google Site. I worked on the general outline and handover it to the mentors. They were in charged to coordinate with their students the content of their site. You can visit it here:

b. As a coach:

  • ISTE 1a Create a shared vision and culture for using technology to learn and accelerate transformation through the coaching process.
  • ISTE 3a Establish trusting and respectful coaching relationships that encourage educators to explore new instructional strategies.

As we started working for the PYP exhibition, I could notice some reluctancy and doubts from some teachers. It’s important to mention that they used to see technology from the lenses of the ‘use of a tool’ and not from the lenses of ‘an accelerator of deep learning’

I invited them to reflect on their expectation on the PYPx, before the beginning of their journey, on Flipgrid.

Follow the QR code to discover their expectations:

The purpose of the activity was beyond their expectations. I wanted them to realize how much preparation, rehearsal, and deep reflection is required just to answer a question. As it was a real challenge for some teachers, I took the Edurolearning course: Coaching essentials, and listened to the podcast “Coaching better’” to improve my communication skills with teachers.

I divided them into 3 groups (according to their familiarity with technology). I focused on the group less familiar with it. It took me a month of a group and one-to-one meetings to do the Flipgrid activity. The key to success was making them feel comfortable, understand that they were not alone, we were together learning. As an example, I shared my experience with my Cohort 11 in COETAIL. Most of them are IT integrators but we learned, collaborated respectfully, and supported each other on our journey. After this challenge, everything started to run smoothly. And, I discovered myself as a designer of learning experiences.

I created two tutorials on  Secreecastify to guide teachers using Flipgrid. All of the used it as an assessment tool for their LOI, or as place to reflect on their readings or/ any other type of information with their students. Also, I created a collection on Wakelet: PYPx with a selection of readings to show teachers how to use the tool.

Under the pressure of the PYP exhibition is challenging to introduce so many new things. I  introduced them to the technology integration framework SAMR. I wanted to create awareness about how through this level of Modification and Redefinition, we can transform the learning experience. 

As conclusion, I can say that I was planting seeds. I have developed that curiosity on teachers to analyze their practices, change their approach to technology, go beyond the traditional lenses, and building collaborative relationships.

Yes! What you will find on my video?

I present the work done with the students in which they assume different roles as researchers, principled human beings, digital citizens, designers, and guest speakers.  Many activities happened simultaneously, and I was constantly shifting my ‘teacher’ hat to the ‘coach’ hat.

A final thought

If something has changed my professional life in recent times it has been COETAIL. As a learner, learning is an endless journey. Writing the blog made me reflect on my practices, analyze other innovative perspectives, and learn new pedagogical theories. And that I am the one in charge of my professional growth. Nobody else.

Furthermore, when I became familiar with the ISTE standards, I incorporated them into my planning. My classes took a ‘180-degree turn’ and were also a reason to improve the level of collaboration with the teachers. 

In my opinion, empowering teachers empowers students. I feel very proud of the new practices that many of the mentors adapted. They are exploring technology tools through different lenses.

To conclude the PYPx, I requested all the mentors to reflect on the exhibition. You can find their thoughts here

The exhibition was a success in our community. Students were able to show a deep understanding of their themes in front of their parents, other PYP schools in the city, and 5 PYP schools in different countries (through Skype and Google Meet). They became empowered and confident learners.  

Unfortunately, many things were pending since the school closed unexpectedly due to COVID-19. And, we had to migrate to remote learning from one moment to another. 

Due to the success of the exhibition, the school administration decided to adopt Google as the official platform for online teaching. And, I was officially supporting teachers on this emergency remote learning. In the first 2 months, I spent several hours, even Sundays guiding teachers and solving their queries. I wanted them to feel comfortable and confident. We explored together new options to enhance the learning experience of the students, supporting as well the emotional side.

One of the greatest satisfactions has been to see the library as an agent of innovation in the school. I hope more good changes will come soon.

I would like to show my gratitude to my Cohort 11 for their support and helpful feedback. I also see my future as a Tech-coach, it’s an area that I enjoy so let’s see. But I will definitely keep on blogging.

See you soon!

by Liliana Bandini

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