After our first week of Distance Learning (DL), I felt proud of our school's professionalism, commitment to learning and especially to the general wellbeing of our entire community (students, teachers, leaders and parents). Our team pulled together and worked hard to find solutions. The Learner Profile came alive in our staff. No-one on our team had previous experience with conducting DL sessions for primary students. Many of us have experienced DL as learners through the various professional development courses offered (i.e. online masters courses, IBO courses, etc.) but facilitating it is another issue entirely. Everyone demonstrated commitment, open-mindedness and risk-taking while relying on colleagues to support them along the way. Fortunately for our learning community, we were able to provide every student with a Macbook or iPad from school which helped us to avoid many potential issues with technology connections and software.
As COVID-19 began to spread slowly from China, our school took steps to begin preparations for launching a balanced DL program aligned not only to our mission and vision but also to 3 core values we identified as a team: continuity of learning, keep us connected as a learning community and make sure it both sustainable manageable for community wellbeing. After the first week of DL, we made adjustments for sustainability to our DL program expectations. Above all, this is one of the biggest take aways for me, the need for flexibility, growth mindset and the ability to think creatively and strategically about best practice teaching in the digital environment.
Our learners are at the heart of the triangle; we seek to facilitate the learning and teaching so that our learners are successful in this new environment. This meant all hands on deck working to create content, learning new platforms and introducing students to an entirely different system for learning. Besides being involved in multiple meetings and joining grade level morning meetings on Google Hangouts, I made myself busy creating digital read aloud videos aligned to the current units of inquiry or to the approaches to learning, key concepts and learner profile of the IB PYP. Now I feel like a pro on iMovie. I've also learned how to ScreenCast. Next, I will be learning how to conduct a math group session on Google Hangouts while sharing my screen. So much to try and so much to learn, but I'm determined to figure it out and be successful so our students feel successful.
Areas to consider for your program:
It is not my custom to write about concepts in terms of only one nation but recently these concepts have been at the forefront of my thinking and reflection. As I watch the news or read about the issues arising daily around the world, I ponder these things in terms of my home country, the USA. Education is the most important gift we can offer our children. It is through equitable education that we can build a strong united nation. We cannot marginalize people and expect a united future. Our definition of success and prosperity needs to shift. Read the article from NPR and watch the TED Talk by First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon. Consider the multiple benefits of shifts in mindsets, processes and policymaking...
Schools can perpetuate the systems currently in place, maintaining the status quo or schools can transform a society. We can transform our country through education that promotes international mindedness and values the process of learning over passing exams. We need a country of people who love to learn, who are creative and innovative. We need a unity, peace and contentment. Which path will we choose for our education system?
Later in the same week, I received my weekly update from TED Talks. Over the past two years, the issue of how we measure our success as a nation in terms of a growth economy have bothered me. How can we tackle the sustainability issues if we are constantly told our economy has to grow and produce above and beyond the previous years' growth indicator? How is it possible to not abuse the remaining natural resources if the we feel as nations that sales and material wealth are our priorities? I really believe this approach taken by Scotland, Iceland and New Zealand to form a network of Wellbeing Economy Governments is something the world should carefully consider. While I value the free market economy and the American dream, I also do not see the need for promoting such materialism and waste. If we truly want to provide a future for our youth, then changing our measurement of success is vital for a sustainable future.
To measure our economy in terms different parameters is groundbreaking:
In 2018, Scotland, Iceland and New Zealand established the network of Wellbeing Economy Governments to challenge the acceptance of GDP as the ultimate measure of a country's success. In this visionary talk, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon explains the far-reaching implications of a "well-being economy" -- which places factors like equal pay, childcare, mental health and access to green space at its heart -- and shows how this new focus could help build resolve to confront global challenges.
This talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by our editors on the home page.
As an international educator, I work with colleagues in my local and global network regularly to implement inquiry through concept-based approaches to learning and teaching. It is a journey of discovery, learning and growing our own understandings about the ways children learn.
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