Global Citizen

Becoming global and having all my school involved into the project, has been one of the most highlighting experiences I have had.
Not only because I enjoy the lessons as much as the kids but also because I notice my students´ meaningful learning. Ms Susan Wallace, who participated in one of my global projects, shared this poem written by a student in fifth grade and it definetly triggered off my reflection.


Teaching is HEART work!

This year, as every year,  will bring lots of challenges and new opportunities; those opportunities will make us grow as 21century teachers, who apart from the challenges of discovering and leading a new group of kids, will have to be innovative enough to break the model of the traditional school, and train students for the real world we live in and they will soon discover. Among my basic requests for this year, I consider:

  • it is essential to permanently  reflect upon our practices so as to achieve the best result and by reflecting we will be ready to adapt, rethink whatever strategy we need to cater for our students’ needs.

  • It is  fundamental to provide students with educational opportunities together with the integration of technology into teaching and learning; and to do this ,it is necessary to visit and participate in virtual communities. Many of the opportunities are definitely there! Being able to notice the opportunities and the arrangements with the people involved will be part of the new way of  planning, This brings new demands on teachers apart from the need  to prepare young learners  to use the tools appropriately. Today we can communicate in a variety of formats, either asynchronously through text messages and blogs, or in real time through Twitter or Skype or Google Hangouts.  All we need is a device, an internet connection!

  • We often ask students to answer questions such as What? Who? How? and How Much?, when in reality we need to move beyond these questions that typically have one right answer.   We now have instant access to information and a range of people who can help with finding possible solutions to our questions. So we need to move beyond asking students questions that they already know the answer to or that they can search for online instantly.  We want them to construct knowledge by engaging in deep learning where they have to interpret, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information in order to construct understanding. 
          We need to develop inquisitive minds

  • There is a need to push our learners to work in teams, to engage in complex problem solving where they are required to take initiative, and in order to achieve this we need to make them aware of the importance of self regulating their own work , giving effective feedback,that goes beyond simple praise or comments such as “good job” or “great work”, this will be fundamental to get improvement.
We have the opportunity in our hands, let´s make the difference with our work and with the compromise we feel towards our students; We will not achieve the results we want without passion, and I am definitetly convinced that both passion and enthusiasm are the best gifts we can offer to our kids.


The Benefits of Bringing the World into the Classroom

4th grade sharing facts about Argentina 

Connecting to classes, teachers, experts all over the world by using video-conferences has turned into the most highly motivating and meaningful project I have ever been part!

Is there any better way to help our students use the foreign language they are learning? Is there any better way to foster global citizenship and help our kids develop deep learning experiences ?  If there are better strategies to achieve these aims, I still have not found them.

If we think in terms of contents and skills we should develop in our 21c students, we may agree that these kinds of experiences can provide students with many opportunities in only one task. Video conferencing will give kids the opportunity to develop, implement and communicate new ideas to others effectively, as well as being open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives. While getting ready for a hangout or a skype session children will be encouraged to show originality in work. Depending on the task teachers agree to perform, the great variety of skills children will put into practice. 

 Mystery games, will push kids to the need of reasoning effectively by evaluating evidence, analyzing data they collect and making decisions. In most of the cases kids perform a role that may change encouraging the development of skills such as flexibility and adaptation.
Some other tasks, such as intercultural exchanges, allow kids to communicate effectively in diverse environments fostering interaction with people of other cultures.These experiences help them understand and accept people from other cultures as individuals with other values and behaviours, seeing those interactions as enriching practices.
 If we think of encounters where we work cooperatively, collaborative tasks, the benefits are innumerable! The idea of this type of task is to encourage children to work together towards a common goal.By taking part in the same project students build a supportive community promoting a possitive attitude towards the outcome they want to achieve.
If we think of the chance of Meeting Experts, what I call real people, they can tell our kids about their expertise on different fields, we will definitely be bringing unique opportunities to them! As well as having authors sharing their literature, encouraging post literature circles and giving them pieces of advice as regards reading and writing.

If all these new ways open windows to all our 21c learners, show them the real world and the immensity of its possibilities, for our students speakers of English as a foreign language, the benefits grow even better. Firstly they have the possibility of chatting to real native speakers, to listen to real people talking about real issues; they also have the possibility of expressing their own ideas on a great variety of topics, many of them global themes, that will allow them not only to use the target language but also to discuss 21c matters in meaningful contexts.
After sharing many experiences with different groups of students aged between six and fifteen, I have come to the following conclusions:

  • It is essential to be open-minded enough so as to take the opportunity. Someone can offer the possibility of meeting, taking part of a project you have not considered up to that moment, Do not miss the chance of letting your kids be part of it!
  • Once you make an arrangement, be ready to exploit the most of the encounter. It is essential to do pre work , especially on maps to clearly understand the other person´s location and unless you do a mystery game, or it is part of the task that they will perform, children should do some research about the city and the country where the new friends live.
  • Spatial and geographical skills are interesting to be developed and before and after the videoconference you should focus on this; time zones and time difference should also be included, with different level of complexity according to the age of the kids.
  • Teachers should foster a strong sense of belonging by making students research and produce a creative final outcome about general or particular aspects of their country. Technology is used as a tool that will help kids develop and build their research, critical thinking and creative skills. This final product could be the first step in the interaction processes that children will start.

        The challenge of preparing students for college, careers, and the world today should be our ultimate aim. Students definitely need to become active learners who are able to work collaboratively by building learning communities. The use of strategies such as videoconferencing makes learning more meaningful and relevant by pushing students towards producing outcomes that include not only mastery of essential academic contents but also critical thoughts and effective communication .

First Grade in a hangout with a first grade in Texas. Talking about families.


Flexibility and Awareness, two Key Words

I have been lately wondering what it really implies to be an effective teacher.
By looking for an answer to this question  I have come to the conclusion that being flexible with our own principles and aware of our kid´s reality may be key issues  in understanding our role today !
Society has changed and kids today have realities which are totally different from ours at their age, those kids’parents have also very different lifes compared to our parents´. Parents are too busy and tend to solve whatever situation the child has to face to make it easier, to make it quicker, so as to go on with his/her responsibilities. Children are too demanding , they are used to having their parents solving their things , doing what they want, responding to those demands, and of course we have kids that live a couple of days with their mother and some other days with their father, which makes them very flexible but at the same time very disorganised!
As a consequence of all this being a teacher today implies accompanying   children in all these aspects.   Passing   on knowledge, correcting mistakes, and reporting on sts’ behaviour is not enough! We have to develop many more skills to be able to help them grow.  
What we bring from the places where we studied, is mainly connected to the academic fields,  to the teaching of contents, but what about the rest? As soon as we start working at a school we get to know that contents are  just a  part of the reality we will have to face.
We are teachers of young children and this implies a great responsibility, I read in an article that “Many educators feel that effectiveness as a  teacher stems from a combination of knowledge, skills and personal characteristics” ( Katz 1993)The point is  that while our knowledge can be increased, our personal characteristics are likely to be more fixed. This is the reason why, it may be so difficult for us to accept, understand and comprehend the different kids we have in our classrooms. Some of them may be more similar to our styles or to what we believe should be correct, in some other cases we have to make an effort to understand some kids’ atittudes and it is essential to develop a plan to help them. There is no other way rather than showing those kids our personal interest in them that will be effective at the moment of creating bonds and strong bonds will be the password to successful learning.
To conclude I would say that as teachers we should get engaged with each and every student , trying to enjoy building and developing relationships with them,  this will  be the only way to make a difference .
Our students need us and  only by seeing  them improve, in both academic and emotional aspects ,we will feel we have reached the top of our own success criteria.

Me gustaria compartir este video


The Power of Listening

Listening to people has proved to be an essential tool for me. As the leader of a group I have felt the need to develop a good ear ( This is absolutly paradoxical if I consider my hearing problem!!) I absolutly think that listening  to my colleagues is, apart from reflection, another interesting way to grow.
Listening to my partners seems to have a double benefit. On the one hand everyone needs to be heard and understood,it is in this way that we get to know each other. I think that teachers should feel that their opinions are respected  and considered regardless of whether we end up agreeing or not.I have always tried to build this kind of working community. Teachers know they can come up to me and express their thoughts, put forward whatever they consider reasonably. I am convinced that having this possibility may motivate them to suggest some new ideas and projects, and at the same time it may help them develop a sense of belonging.
On the other hand, considering what people say, gives me a broader view. Sometimes I may think or believe that certain things should be on one way and reality in the classroom may show something different, teachers are the ones that can account for this.
 I listen.
 I also have the need to be listened to.This is not easy for everyone, and I feel that for some people this is a hard job! Sometimes it is difficult to listen,to reflect on what is being said and what is more, to be open-minded enough so as to change your mind and say: You may be right.
I would like to work with people who are good listeners and make the effort to see the world through the eyes of others, people who can reflect , people who can show capacity for empathy. People who can learn a lot from listening...

"A good listener tries to understand what the other person is saying. In the end he may disagree sharply, but because he disagrees, he wants to know exactly what it is he is disagreeing with."
Kenneth A. Wells


Reflecting upon Reflecting

I have been  reflecting a lot on reflection. I came to the conclusion that even though I consider myself  reflective , my reflections, generally on a rush, could definitely be improved.
By on a rush, I mean, thinking about important issues in the least predictable places, or what is more, reflecting with my colleagues while walking along the playground, or answering two or three important questions at the same time...It is true that  all these instances can trigger off a lot of thinking, however, reflection deserves a better place.
I felt really enthusiastic reading my colleagues' blogs and logs and I discovered that most of the teachers were  more reflective than I imagined . Building this community, where we share our teaching strategies,thoughts, doubts, beliefs, weaknesess , queries and the interaction with my mates makes me grow. I have read in an article that teachers that explore their own teaching develop changes in atittudes and become much more aware of what is really happening and this benefits not only their professional growth but the support they provide their students with.
Working as a head gives me a different possibility. On the one hand, reflecting upon the teachers' practices and on the other hand reflecting on my performance in many different aspects: my work with the teachers, the heads, parents, sychologists, the progammes, the teachers' plans, the impact on the students'work...Sometimes I feel overwhelmed!
Keeping my reflections in black and white will help and I will feel accompanied by all the ones who feel like reading my comments.

"Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action."
                                                           James Levin


Getting Started!

Hey! Iam very happy to say that this is my second blog, however each of them has a totally different identity.In this my second blog I will transmit my inner explorations and reflections upon my role as a head of a junior school and some other things...