Professional Learning during Distance Learning

 

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Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

 

KDSL Global asked colleagues from around the Middle East region, how can educators continue to learn and grow as professionals during distance learning? Below are some of those responses.

 

“Although distance learning is in full swing, I don’t think educators have to stop their own development due to face to face limitations. I have pointed educators in the direction of online coursework/certifications (such as Dyslexia Association), virtual conferences that offer interactive components (EdWeek), and taking advantage of mentoring/ coaching sessions to help develop new skills.”

Selina Collins
Doha College
Qatar

 

“Educators are facing a real challenge at this time. Some are swimming in uncharted waters, while others are virtually drowning. I believe that one of the best ways to keep on top of their Continuing Professional Development (CPD) at this moment is to connect with a peer or a group of peers and form small support groups. In these groups, teachers should draw on each other’s strengths, learn from their colleagues’ expertise and lean on each other for moral and professional support. This is not the time to be going at it alone. We need each other for strength and support.”

Leisa Grace Wilson
Teach Middle East Magazine
United Arab Emirates

 

“Professional learning should never be confined to learning done in the vacuum of one’s area of specialization. That said, during this unprecedented global pandemic, educators must think beyond the norm of attending a webinar here or there and focus more on building relationships and interest groups. In so doing, different aspects of life can be addressed; example, online professional learning groups in which one can schedule ongoing learning of subjects of interest, collaborate to take action for a cause or interest or even host small group discussions about shared books, blogs or other resources. We can learn great things from each other if we have structured time and conversations. These opportunities I believe, are more authentic avenues for professional development, differentiated professional development and learning as opposed to random webinars you might not even be interested in.

 

On another note, educators who haven’t yet stepped out of professional learning within their comfort zone – area of expertise- should challenge themselves and do so. Functioning and leading effectively in this era of virtual life demands skills beyond areas of expertise. Leading studies of self-paced short courses, or video/blog/book study groups regarding 21st Century learning skills and soft skills should be prioritized – both for the benefit of students and educators alike. These skills, such as adaptability, taking initiatives, analytical thinking, are needed now more than ever to open up the opportunities for the use of our expert skillsets.”

 

Sania Green-Reynolds
Director Lit Education LLC
United Arab Emirates

 

Take advantage of free online courses, such as the one listed below.

Learn new online learning tools, such as:

  • Quizlet
  • Kahoot
  • Ed Puzzle
  • Screencastify
  • There are thousands!

Join social media groups or follow hashtags to learn from peers.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram

Art Teacher PD Resources

 

Heather Meinen
Riffa Views International School
Bahrain

 

 

Online Learning in Oman

Our School 
Sarh Al Jaameah Private School (SAPS) is a small private school allocated in Muscat, Oman. It serves grades 1 through 3. Its blended curriculum includes Cambridge Primary International (English, Math & Science), Ministry of Education Arabic subjects (Arabic, Islamic and S.S.), Life Skills and specials.
 
What Our School Implemented 
When the Ministry recently closed schools, no direct or implicit directives were given for the continuation of learning during this time. In anticipation of a school closure, and hearing other educational organizations around the world suspending school, I had my ICT teacher to create Google Classrooms for every subject across all grades. Because I have multi-language and multi-national teachers, I needed to have something that is easy to follow, explain and implement.
I chose to adopt the Google Classroom platform because it is the most teacher friendly tool that I have seen used in schools over the years. There are few limitations to what teachers can upload or link to each classroom. You can post as little or as much as you need to accommodate your individual school goals for virtual learning. In addition, Google Meet is also in the G Suite, which allows teachers to visit the same platform to assist with communication with teams inside the organization.
Tips for Others in Getting Started with Online Learning
 
1. Humanity Above All!
Before you delve into what can be managed on the education front, consider that your health, family and well being are the most important factors in the face of this challenge. Our jobs and online learning are beneficial to those we serve, but none of it matters if we don’t care of ourselves and each other. Remember that when you begin, or continue plans you have for online learning. Remember Maslow’s perspective on learning. It will matter to educators and families alike.
 
2. Do something to keep the school community connected
As we can see, educational responses to the pandemic are different from country to country, state to state and school to school within a system. Some organizations have a plan, while some require little to no continuation of learning. There are a gazillion ways to do this. Find what works for you. Don’t worry about emulating others, but do consider some of the creative ideas that have been shared. Even if you can’t address school wide online learning, create a YouTube page for weekly announcements or encouragement, send emails with web-based sites for extension activities, or make calls to families once per week to check-in with any of the workbooks and packets that may be sent home .

3. Create and use a model that is teacher, student and family friendly 
Work together to create a plan…
  • Begin by drafting a plan that all of your staff can have input on. Brainstorm all of the things you think are necessary, practical and feasible based on your goals, resources and current global situation. This includes non-instructional staff. Everyone may have a perspective that may not be readily evident unless you have a variety of views. What do you want to accomplish? Google Docs are great for planning, time-saving and convenient in or out of the workplace.

Online Learning Plan

 

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4. Consider the capacity of your staff
Remember that everyone is not an expert in using/implementing technology effectively. Choose platforms, apps and resources that are teacher friendly because they are the ones that have to develop assignments and navigate your chosen online learning tools.
5. Set up a mock online learning environment – Perfect to engage in professional learning and development initiatives!
Experiment with teachers before asking families to engage in the process. You don’t want to be trouble-shooting with parents unnecessarily. The process can be cumbersome. I created a professional learning Google Classroom for my staff first, requiring a couple of assignments, responses and uploads based on one of our SIP goals with my teachers:) The plan was to incorporate a blended learning environment prior to the school closing. This allowed me to demonstrate and engage my teachers in person, explaining and translating while on the interactive board and their devices. It proved to be very productive and reassuring. The additional benefit to the staff is that we get to engage in continuous professional learning. Use some of this time to catch up or reinforce school wide best practices or introduce others.

 

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6. Keep student work and planning simple
  • Ensure clear expectations (uniform criteria)
  • Compact curriculum
  • Cover essentials only
  • Minimize assignments
  • Refrain from formal grading
  • Make some of it fun!
  • Encourage
  • Praise
  • Give Feedback/Support
Note – Remember the context for why we’re all even having online learning. If students/families aren’t able to keep up with assignments, consider what they may be trying to manage at home. Encourage them to complete what they can, and remind them that our role is to provide some continuation of learning and access. The whole world has a lot on their plate right now. We are just trying to minimize the gaps we all know will occur during this crisis.
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7. Monitor the progress of your online learning
Teachers can and should provide feedback to students with appropriate next steps, praise for their effort to keep up with work and support parents in this homeschooling environment. Administrators, add yourself to each classroom and you’re able to address accountability and support teachers in the process. Note – All the classrooms show up in your Google Classroom app, but you can disable the notifications, so you’re not inundated with participant responses.
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8. Consider feedback and modify plans where necessary 
We’ve seen many memes and responses to the plight of schools and families’ frustrations. While many of these are hilarious, we need to understand the explicit and underlying messages being conveyed. If the online learning we create is overwhelming, stakeholders will not engage in the process, at least not effectively, making the best of plans all for naught.

9. Use available platforms to communicate with each other
We are using Google Meet. For those folks required by your local education authority (LEA) to implement online learning, choose one of the many platforms to hold meetings online for discussion on some of your school’s online initiatives. Most are now free to access. For some of our international schools, this may be difficult, as most VOIPs are blocked. However, some countries, like Oman have suspended restrictions due to the crisis at hand.
Our staff has had very successful meetings on Google Meet. Both my English and Arabic speaking staff engaged to discuss progress and next steps. It offers accessibility using closed caption, chatting sidebar, optional mute, screen sharing for the initiator/presenter of the meeting and multiple screen layouts. The staff took turns in verbal responses while typing thoughts, ideas and questions to be included in our discussion. Responses are used to follow up.
 
10. Consider and document how you’ll continue to incorporate these wonderful practices in the future!
 
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Natasha is currently the principal of an international school in Oman. As an education specialist (Ed.S.), and founder of Key Education Solutions Consulting (KEDS), she also employs 20 years of experience to engage schools, and families in research-based, best educational practices. Professional learning and development of educators is her passion, particularly in the area of Mindset research, and its implications in educator effort and evidence within the classroom.
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Thank you, Stuart Dennis

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Yesterday I found out my former Head of School in Dubai (GEMS World Academy) passed away. In one of our emails he asked me to do an interview. This blog post is dedicated to him.

 

Hello Kevin,
Maybe you’ll consider to do an interview  as part of my little series of interview articles for LinkedIn. Honestly, this is nothing more than a intellectual stimulation for me whilst I’m going through chemo again. However, a great way to connect with amazing people like you.

 

  1. How would describe your leadership style? How has it evolved over the years and why?

I see myself as a coaching leader. Many times I enjoy supporting teammates in fulfilling their goals and providing feedback to aid in growth. The one on one interaction and finding out where people are and how to best be of assistance is where I get energy.

 

  1. Who are your leadership idols and why?

My business advisor Alister Aranha as he always ask great questions and pushes my thinking.

John Ritter, one of my first international school heads, because of his wealth of knowledge and experience around school leadership.

Cynthia Buck was the first principal who hired me in Virginia. She set forth a clear vision and was always supportive with our team goals and my personal goals.

 

  1. What is your greatest leadership success?

Setting up a company in a country outside of the USA. This was done in 2013 in Dubai. There was a lot to learn but so worth the journey.

 

  1. What’s the toughest leadership challenge you’ve faced?

Being comfortable speaking up and out about issues related to diversity, inclusion, and equity in the international education space.

 

  1. Looking forward in your current role, what excites and motivates you as a leader?

Interacting with future talent in the present. This is built into our KDSL Global Fellowship Program. In one year these educators learn more about entrepreneurship and launch a new product or service.

 

  1. What lessons in leadership are you still hoping to learn?

Focusing on a few things would be something I need to revisit. In the past I would choose 3 big things to focus on daily.

 

  1. Do you see your role also a leadership mentor and trainer? Is succession planning at all levels in the organisation important you? How do you achieve this?

I see myself as a leadership learner. This is due to being willing to learn from others based on their experiences. Legacy thinking started with the fellowship program we set up in 2017. It was the idea of how do you give back to the new and next generation of those who work in education? We empowered consultants to start their own ventures and engage in a range of projects. This was my experience which allowed me to learn lots about what I enjoyed and what I did not.

A big change is coming in 2020 at KDSL Global around planning ahead. More to come in the near future.

 

  1. What’s your advice to experienced school leaders looking for the next big step?

Learn what you can where you are. Write down and work on your next big thing but do not allow it to consume you. This may make you miss out on lessons and learning in your current context.

 

  1. What’s your advice to inexperienced leaders in school looking for the first big step?

It would still be learn what you can where you are. Seek a mentor who can serve as a guide. Seek and sign up for opportunities to serve as a leader wherever you are currently working.

 

  1. And finally, how do you relax? 

Meditating

Running

Reading

Just pausing and taking a break from work
Stuart, ‬
‪I’m crushed to hear the news of your departure. You are the reason I came to Dubai. Your vision and leadership were impeccable. I feel you tricked me as well when I found out upon arrival that I’d be teaching the daughter of the Head of School. ‬

‪Thank you for checking in with me & encouraging me to pursue my goals and dreams. You signed every form I brought your way when I wanted to learn, grow, and develop. I’ll miss our updates. ‬

‪In today’s international education leadership space I find few like you. You hired a Black man to teach at what was then the most expensive IB school in Dubai during 2008. I didn’t put my photo on my CV. On our phone interview I learned about you & your expectations.‬

‪You shared leadership opportunities & served as a reference for me countless times, connected me with education leaders around the world, and added me on your team. ‬

‪Thank you for the opportunity to serve, learn, and for being a true leader.‬

KDSL Global interviews Nicole Fedio of Mathematique

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KDSL Global recently had an opportunity to interview Nicole Fedio, one of our math consultants based in Saudi Arabia. She recently collaborated with our company in Egypt and was a presenter at the Middle East Maths Teachers Conference in Dubai.

Tell us about Mathematique.

Mathematique is a boutique mathematics consulting business. When I think of it, an image immediately pops into my head. It’s a Venn Diagram that first appeared in the Toronto Star in 2016 (see graphic below). Mathematique sits firmly in the center of the four overlapping circles: ‘What I love’, ‘What the world needs’, ‘What I can be paid for’, and ‘What I’m good at.’ After two decades of math teaching and math coaching experience, launching Mathematique allows me to share my deep and passionate love for exploring the teaching and learning of mathematics with others, centered by those four prompts.

What I bring to mathematics consulting is my dedication to the craft of coaching. It was after working with hundreds of teachers as a coach that I decided I wanted to venture out on my own as an independent consultant. Providing quality professional development to educators is more than just delivering content. It’s about building relationships. It’s about asking participants the right questions so they form their own understanding of the material. It’s coaching adults to answer their own questions. If we want our students to become problem solvers and good questioners, then we must first model this as educators. The mission of Mathematique is to empower educators with the mathematical expertise needed to inspire the problem solvers of the future. And my vision is to live in a world where I never hear, ‘but I can’t do math’ ever again.

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What do you say to people who say they aren’t a math person?

When people claim they can’t do math or say,  ‘but I’m not a math person’ my first response is to ask why. Too many people carry trauma from the way they were taught math in school. Too often I hear, ‘I used to like math until…’ I think one of the main issues is how narrowly we have defined what it means to ‘do math.’ As a coach, I worked at a school where I would regularly share intriguing math problem solving activities with teachers. The PE teacher loved solving them. Her solutions were unique and showed a complex level of understanding of the problems. Without fail, after finding a solution she would say, ‘but I’m not a maths person. I didn’t take maths past grade 10.’’ In her mind, maths was complicated formulas, algorithms, and something that she still could not access. It was not problem solving, finding patterns, or making meaning out of data. One goal I have is to expand the definition of what it means to be a ‘math person.’

 

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Three things you would share with a new math educator.

When working with new math educators, I first remind them to be kind to themselves and to give themselves some grace. Teaching is such a wonderful profession because it’s never the same day twice. And that is both a blessing and a curse. We are continually growing, learning, and evolving as educators. When I think back to some of the things I did in my first few years of teaching, I cringe and want to write blanket apology letters to all of my former students. Instead, I can reflect on what I would now do differently given the same circumstances and help others not to repeat my mistakes. Secondly, I would advise new math educators to dive into the art of questioning. Questioning is key. Asking the right questions of both their students and themselves is a pathway to growth. When a student asks a math question to which the teacher does not know the answer, consider that a great learning opportunity. It’s OK not to know and to research the question together with the student. Or, it’s perfectly fine to take the time to come back to the student later with an answer. And thirdly, find your positive math community. Surround yourself with people who are excited about the teaching and learning of mathematics and trying new things. Your community might include colleagues at your school, or it might be a virtual community online. Find the people like me who will help nurture your inner mathematician and encourage you to keep asking the necessary questions of both yourself and of your students.

 

 

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Nicole Fedio is an independent mathematics consultant at Mathematique Consulting. With two decades of experience as an educator, Nicole taught high school mathematics in Ghana, Venezuela, Guatemala, Boston, Seattle, India and China. For four years, she was the K-12 district math coach for a group of six international schools in Saudi Arabia. She earned a B.S. in Mathematics from Penn State University and a M.Ed. in Teaching and Curriculum from Harvard University. She is a National Board certified teacher.

She holds a deep and passionate love for exploring the teaching and learning of mathematics. She finds joy in helping others find their inner passion for the subject. Her vision is to live in a world where she never hears, “but I can’t do math” ever again by supporting teachers to rewrite their students’ mathematical stories. Follow her on Twitter @NicoleFedio

 

 

 

KDSL Global Math Consultant Dr. Cory Bennett provides the keynote at the Middle East Maths Teacher Conference

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The fourth Middle East Maths Teachers Conference was held on February 22, 2020, at Le Meridien Dubai Hotel and Conference Centre and brought together, School Leaders, Maths Advisors, Education Consultants and Mathematics Educators, from all over the Middle East and beyond, for a jam-packed day of learning and networking, with the main aim of advancing the teaching and learning of Mathematics in classrooms. The first Middle East Maths Teachers Conference was held on March 11, 2017, under the theme Active Maths…Engaged Learning. Since then, the Middle East Maths Teachers Conference has become the must-attend event for teachers of Mathematics from the Middle East and even further afield.

KDSL Global Math Consultant Dr. Cory Bennett served as the keynote speaker. He is a passionate educator who strives for equity in learning for all students. As a global consultant and an Associate Professor of Education specializing in curriculum and instruction, he has worked with educators throughout the United States and across the Middle East, Europe, Australia, and Asia.

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KDSL Global Founder on Ed-Talk Live

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Ed-Talk Live is an International Educational Talk show hosted by ELASCD and Pakistan ASCD. The mission is to connect educators globally and spread wise words for better education. On a recent show, KDSL Global Founder Kevin Simpson was a guest discussing education entrepreneurship and supporting international education leaders of color.
To access the discussion visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxGa0UjSbl0

UAE Social Studies Meet Up

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Photos by Sally Michael

The KDSL Global Team hosted a Meet Up for UAE Social Studies Teachers on 20 January at The Workshop in Dubai. Thank you to our partners at Novel Philosophy Academy, The Global Sleepover, MENA Learns, and Sandstruck in the UAE.

Below are those follow up resources. 
 
UAE Social Studies for grades 1-5
 
Sandstruck in the UAE
 
Novel Philosophy Academy
novelphilosophy.academy  
 
MENA Learns
Password: abc

Dubai Education Week

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The week of February 22-29, 2020 will mark the first annual Dubai Education week. This will be a jam-packed week of activities for educators and education enthusiasts from Dubai as well as visitors to the city from all over the globe.

The United Arab Emirates and Dubai is a hub for innovation in education. During this week there will be several opportunities for visitors to witness first hand all that Dubai and the country’s education industry has to offer.

 

For more information visit https://dubaieducationweek.com/.