Day after day I realize that my job is continually developing and is in constant need of something new. It is not only about new technologies or looking for new tools. Every day I hear about the clash which exists between native and migrant digitals but I think the real problem lies elsewhere.
In every classroom there is the need of creating an atmosphere of collaboration and sharing so that the students’ learning process can be fostered. The students don’t go to school in order to listen to their teachers and get information or knowledge and they are not interested in lessons, if they don’t present new stimuli.
I have been one of the lucky teachers who could take part in the Lisbon Conference. As a matter of fact, I was there because I was awarded a prize, but that is not the main point here.
While there, I could choose among some workshops and the ones I picked up were
eTwinning Groups: share, connect, develop
and The role of Ambassadors as leaders of change – A model for whole school and teacher teams transforming teaching and learning through eTwinning
During the former, somebody said that teaching is the most honourable profession and I was delighted at hearing it in a period when, at least in Italy, teachers are not particularly respected for a number of reasons I am not going to discuss here.
In this context anyway I really think that eTwinning can give a big contribution in spreading the possibility of participation and change.
How can teachers make their students interested in their lessons? I know that this is not a problem which all teachers have to deal with. Some lucky ones have no need to motivate their students, because the kids themselves are interested in learning and eager on knowing new things. But this is a real problem of mine 😦
Among the chances that eTwinning offers, one is the groups. I am a member of four of them and I must admit in some I am active, in others much less. The discussion we had during the workshop has been helpful to me because I tried to apply it to what happens in my classes.
Every community must have a common goal which gives reason to the community itself. But the members of a group have to be put in the best condition possible in order to work and be efficient. Just like our students.
So, what type of activities should we present them?
Brian Jones explained what happens during a Learning Event, which is not so different from what happens in a group. While he was talking, I was trying to apply what he was saying to my classes and was trying to figure out how eTwinning could help me.
The members of a community are much more active when the moderators are active themselves and take part in conversations and activities.
This is true for myself, too. I need to be constantly motivated, I need deadlines in order to be efficient otherwise, since I am overwhelmed with things to do and tasks to accomplish, I end up forgetting doing things. And this happens also when doing something which I am really interested in.
I should create new activities and try to involve all types of learning styles and intelligences in order to help my students to feel more involved. eTwinning with its projects is undoubtely a strong resource.
Brian Jones added that the so-called lurkers are not necessarily passive, but they could be the active participants of the future.
In every classroom there is somebody who never raises their hands to talk or ask for something, but that doesn’t mean they are passive: they might be lurkers who are carefully listening while getting more self-confidence and are probably thinking and deciding what to believe.
The discussion during the workshop has given me a lot of hints about what to do during my classes in order to involve the most of my students.
The second workshop I took part in was
The role of Ambassadors as leaders of change – A model for whole school and teacher teams transforming teaching and learning through eTwinning.
I have been an eTwining Ambassador for three years now and was curious to know what other ambassadors are doing or what activities they had to suggest.
The discussion was about the role of Ambassadors and the key words apparently are Innovation, Change, Tranformation.
Changing is not that easy at all! If a person pushes, the other one does the same as a reaction. Nobody lets themselves go 🙂 The main objective so should be to manage the resistence. The Ambassador’s role should be that of a leader that guides to change but always keeping in mind that, in order to be successful, we must not fight the environment we are in, but we must become part of it, understand its signals because only in this way it is possible to act efficiently.
What is really important is to make the staff understand that team-working and collaboration only lead to positive results.
The two moderators of the workshop, Lesley Atkins and John Warwick, illustrated a specific project which was carried out in a Scottish school, but what they said fits perfectly to any situation. Thanks to the project, there has been an integration of ICT into the curriculum, the staff could develop their professional profile, there was much more inter-disciplinarity and forms of learning also outside the classroom: in general a big and general improvement of the school environment.
A model of school can change only when the school leadership identifies the need to change, if teachers are willing to collaborate and share, if Ambassadors are involved in the process, if a team is created.
This is the only way we could hope to get to a change in schools and a passage from working on projects to a project-based- approach.
Once again thanks eTwinning for playing such an important role in a teacher’s professional development