KDSL Global interviews Collective Learning

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How can collaborative learning systems best benefit schools? KDSL Global recently had the opportunity to interview Dr. Sarah A. Boswell to learn more about the approach at her company called Collective Learning. Dr. Boswell is a scholar-leader who continues to lead change in schools.  Her international experience and research interests serve as the catalyst for her success in helping teachers globally become leaders of their learning & well-being. Her international experiences with teachers range from exploring teacher support programs in Ghana, West Africa, designing curriculum for teachers in Liberia, West Africa to training teachers in United Arab Emirates and Jakarta, Indonesia.

What are the most common problems CLS sees improving for schools?

Collaborative Learning Systems (CLS) seek to improve for schools their ability to maximize teachers’ talents … helping teachers tap into their personal power. We believe effectively and authentically navigating teachers’ personal power allows their talents and expertise to thrive is the first ingredient in handling common concerns relating to teacher retention, teacher satisfaction, teacher quality, and teacher efficacy.

Through our process of establishing collaborative learning systems in schools, we build in the necessary components within the school’s culture that creates a productive, safe, mutually respective environment for sharing and learning. These components include trust and rapport, healthy communication and listening skills, and reflection and application. Teachers are at the core of designing, facilitating these systems. Hence allowing them to gain a sense of ownership as well as an opportunity to utilize their expertise, ingenuity, and knowledge. They guide the process for effective learning, problem solving and innovation. It becomes an inner support for teacher consisting of teachers.

An article I recently read regarding teacher burnout coined a term that I have not heard before, demoralization. It shares that burnout and demoralization can both lead to teachers’ dissatisfaction but distinguishes them way by saying that burnout – requires individual teachers to determine the resolve via mindset, stress management remedies, etc. But the author, Doris Santoro, states that demoralization relates more so to the conflict that teachers have between their desire to do good work and what is expected by school policy. Therefore, placing some of the resolve on the system versus only on the individual teacher regarding burnout.

I do recommend one to read the article in its entirety (The link is below). An example of a moral conflict she shares that I feel many can relate to is: “Failing to meet students’ learning needs due to a scripted curriculum or mandated textbook.” Conversations relating to this are commonly seen or heard in the teachers’ lounges, grade level meetings, etc. but hardly ever brought up to school leadership as an area of concern to try to resolve. Yet, Ms. Santaro indicates through her over 10 years of research in the area of teacher dissatisfaction, she’s noticing these and other similar conflicts are a key cause of teacher dissatisfaction. She gives one good example of a teacher named “Diana” who had brought up moral conflict to leadership who in turn dismissed her point of view and considered it unprofessional.

So the point that I am making here by bringing up this article (besides I think every teacher and leader should read it) is I’m grateful to the author for bringing attention to an elephant in the room that needs to be addressed. By being a teacher and working with teachers via my teacher conversations (coaching sessions) and/or my teacher collaborative (teacher group discussion) these conflicts –where teachers have to decide between what is in the best interest of children and the expectation of school policy and practice — are not new.

My service to teachers stems from wanting to help teachers to navigate, within their realm of control, strategies to manage and effectively cope with these systemic situations. Being able to change the situation has never been the resolve nor could it be or would it ever be. BUT what Collective Learning has been successful in doing is giving teachers an opportunity to talk productively and exploring what can be done and create a strategy towards it. That mere momentum can shift the feelings of helplessness and victimization, a source of unhappiness and dissatisfaction, to a feeling of hope and possibility.

Teachers are often aware of the top down organizational models that they are walking into when they decide to teach. Yet they still do for the love of teaching and impacting the lives of children. What my CLS models do is teach ways to create space to pause, and allow teachers individually or collectively to use their ingenuity to create solutions, strategies, alternatives to manage the day to day events in their work lives stemming from their own professional learning needs and beyond. Going back to the article, the author speaks about the need for leaders to first identify the true cause of teacher dissatisfaction and continues to offer leaders suggestions of ways to respond to the moral concerns of teachers.

Read the article to get all of them. However, the themes of her suggestions include the concepts of communication and listening (key concepts of CLS process). One specific suggestion states to invite teachers to write a proposal to resolve and address conflicts within their work. That is an awesome idea & my Teacher Collaborative is the perfect solution to facilitate a discussion among teachers to create a concise proposal.

But here is where I think the author and many, many other people tend to create the gap when asking teachers to do things like common planning time, professional learning communities, co-teaching, and write a proposal with your colleagues. I think you get my point.

BUT … if the school culture has not gone through some sort of trust and rapport building to create safe space, have not provided learning around productive and polite conversation protocols for tough topics, have not practiced effective ways to listen and respond, then why do you think teachers will all of sudden be able to effectively comfortably openly honestly delve into these collaborative open system mechanisms for resolution, innovation and progression? Then when it doesn’t work leading to the potential of having the cycle of demoralization continuing.

With all the great intentions of so many researchers, school policy makers, school leaders and administrations –wanting to create collaborative concepts among teachers in schools … to apply distributive leaderships in schools … to have teachers openly share their concerns with schools …. they are sometimes remised in not tapping into the pulse of teachers and developing effective safe group dynamics needed in an educational system that has historically focused on and been driven by isolation, individualism, authoritative models of governing and functioning.

It’s a process to genuinely create these safe collaborate environments but starting is the key. I understand that schools generally are working from a product result oriented intention but it’s my sincere belief that schools will need to shift to embracing “process” and celebrating the change as it occurs incrementally over time.

So what does CLS seek to improve in schools? We seek to close the gap. Doing so by offering solutions that help school cultures be open and safe environments where teachers’ talent and personal power can be safely and respectfully expressed and utilized to co-create with leadership resolves around whatever is needed. This could be their professional learning, stream lining the curriculum, best ways to handle lunch duty, value conflicts that impact their work, etc. With the key goal of keeping in mind the interest of all involved in order to best serve and meet the needs of students.

How does using CLS improve things for teachers and students?

CLS improves things for teachers by giving them tools to help them improve things for themselves. We believe teachers come into the schoolhouse with much valuable knowledge. Teachers’ talents can be best maximized when given a means to identify problems, a process to resolve it, a procedure to evaluate and revise it, if needed. That’s what CLS does. We give them the means, processes, and procedures to facilitate self-guided improvements.

So what’s the source of CLS success. It is organically and authentically driven by teachers’ needs. If they have issues dealing with a student in the classroom, they can have a teacher collaborative around it that fosters a structured way to creatively brainstorm solutions. If the school decided to implement the 4C’s of a Learning Culture then they can engage peer collaboration where they see peers in action and have a constructive learning conversation around the teacher specific learning need.

But again, these solutions aren’t just collaborative models that are dumped onto teachers. We build the foundation for healthy safe collaboration to occur. Now things improve for the students by being the beneficiaries of teachers who are open and comfortable to sharing their skills and talents; to maintaining and even innovating new approaches to teaching and learning.

And other sweet benefit or improvement for students includes teachers who are happier, who have an increased level of teacher efficacy, teachers excited about coming to their work environment and showing up in the best possible way they can.

I am not trying to create this Polly Anna world of teaching … there will be situations, experiences, and encounters that will not be able to be resolved or resolved to the satisfaction of people involved. BUT having a system in place where the mere support of a listening ear and validation could make a world of difference in the life of teachers.

 

Does CLS require a large host of teachers to actively collaborate? Or could a smaller school use it?

Nope definitely not! School size does not matter. What’s awesome about our CLS solutions is that it’s geared toward meeting individual, team, and organization needs. This stems from our theories derived from the concepts of organizational development and dimensions of a learning organization.

Our Teacher Conversations are geared toward teachers who want to engage in a one-on-one conversation about their practice, dilemma, and/or ambitions with a professional coach outside of the school. Teacher Collaborative provides opportunity for supportive teams to convene for learning and/or problem solving purposes. The 4C’s of a Learning Culture is a school-wide process for providing ongoing learning for teachers.

The size only constitutes the amount of knowledge that is resting under one roof. However the ability to share, learn, grow, and innovate from that knowledge has no barring on the size of the school. The only thing required for CLS are teachers and school leaders who are open to the positive and productive impact that teachers’ talents (their personal power) have on creating, innovating, and problem solving solutions within schools.

 

To learn more about Collective Learning Systems visit https://www.clteachertalent.com/ and to read the ASCD article referenced go to https://tinyurl.com/ya46qasn.

 

 

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ASCD selects the first Emerging Leader based in the Middle East

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DUBAI, UAE, July 8 2018 – ASCD is excited to announce the selection of educators for its 2018 class of emerging leaders. The Emerging Leaders program recognizes and prepares young, promising educators to influence education programs, policy, and practice on both the local and national levels.

Educators selected for the Emerging Leaders program have been in the education profession for 5–15 years; demonstrate a passion for learning, teaching, and leading; come from a diverse range of positions, locations, cultural backgrounds, and perspectives; hold promise as leaders; and are committed to ASCD’s beliefs and to pursuing leadership opportunities. Following the nomination process, this year’s leaders were chosen by an advisory panel composed of ASCD staff, education thought leaders, and emerging leader alumni.

The first Emerging Leader has been selected who is based in the United Arab Emirates. Ashley Green’s passion for global education has led to her teaching in classrooms and collaborating with teachers from all over the world. Her desire to become a global educator began when she taught students in England, and had the chance to make connections between the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program and Common Core standards. Since then, she’s honed those skills in Dubai; in both Elementary and Middle school settings as a full time classroom practitioner.

Ashley is a lifelong learner and believes that while she is an educator; she will always be striving to improve her own practice. She’s currently employed at Universal American School in Dubai. Ashley holds a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction and has developed and written curriculums for English, Language Arts and Mathematics for grades 3-8. She obtained a Gifted Endorsement in 2015 and also served as an ambassador for Gifted and Talented Education in Georgia, USA. She will be a featured speaker at the MENA Teacher Summit held during 5-6 October in Dubai. Visit www.menateachersummit.com for more information.

To learn more about ASCD’s other programs, products, services, and memberships, visit www.ascd.org. To learn about the GCC ASCD Connected Community visit www.gccascd.com.

 

ABOUT ASCD

ASCD is dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading so that every child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. ASCD’s innovative solutions promote the success of each child.  

ABOUT GCC ASCD Connected Community

The GCC ASCD Connected Community is to unite educators throughout the region, inspiring all of us to learn globally and teach locally.

 

PRESS CONTACT

Kevin Simpson, KDSL Global, kevin@kdslglobal.com

Meet our KDSL Global Fellow – Samantha Rodriguez

KDSL Global is pleased to announce our new fellow.  The fellowship focuses on writing, leadership and launching a new education idea.

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Samantha Rodriguez was born and raised in Long Island, New York and graduated from Providence College where she studied Public and Community Service and Political Science. ​Being the first in her family to graduate from college, the value of education was constantly emphasized. Samantha has spent the better part of her life working with youth in different contexts. Since graduating from Providence, Samantha has taught Math in Tsakane, South Africa, was a 9th Grade English Teacher in the South Bronx, has been a College Access Counselor, and is now a Service Learning Program Coordinator for buildOn in Chicago, Illinois. She simultaneously attends graduate school at the University of Illinois at Chicago working towards an MEd in Youth Development. Samantha has always believed that all students are worthy of a strong educational foundation as well as a strong support system that helps them become successful. With her MEd in Youth Development, it is Samantha’s goal to help create spaces that intentionally provide youth with opportunities to develop their interests, skills, and abilities.

 

ABOUT KDSL Global

KDSL Global is a USA and UAE-based leading learning organization focused on empowering educators and education businesses globally. To find out more information visit http://www.kdslglobal.com.

Five Highlights from the Global Education & Skills Forum 2018

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This week marked the sixth annual global education and skills forum; an initiative by the Varkey Foundation where education practitioners, policy makers and distinguished members of international organizations get together to discuss pressing issues in global education. This year’s theme was how to prepare learners today for 2030 and beyond. This year, entrepreneurship was highlighted via the Next Billion EdTech Prize where initiatives in education from around the globe were featured for the work and change they try to make in global education. On behalf of the KDSL Global team, I attended this year’s forum and got to engage in interesting conversations with some of the speakers and delegates from around the world. If you didn’t make it to the forum this year, no worries! Here are some common insights we observed emerging among speakers and sessions:

1.   The Incorporation of Augmented and Virtual Reality in Pedagogy Design Should Be Prioritized:

Not limited to STEM, AR and VR should be part of today’s learning. Immersive learning, in order to be effective, should aim for exposing students to digital storytelling as a step forward to teaching empathy and global citizenship. Such technologies, then, need to be looked as a learning experience rather than a tool in order to reach the desired outcomes of 2030. Teachers and school leaders should plan for professional development experiences that support envisioning teaching in light with EdTech. Here is an interesting article you might want to read on the topic, and if you are wondering how the future in emerging economies would look like, you might want to join Mr. Fiebeg; the Co-Founder of Coders Trust in a virtual journey here.

2.   The Role of Socio-emotional Intelligence in Promoting Innovation and Well-being:

Almost all sessions pressed on that education should aim for preparing independent empathetic learners who are empowered with skills and attitudes that are core to solving local and global issues. With the skills gap that employers have reported in several studies, fresh graduates seem to lack the soft skills that enable them to be innovative and more understanding of the global market’s needs. For that, many speakers stressed the importance for paying more attention to emotional intelligence in school communities. I personally enjoyed this session on teaching young people empathy and why it is needed now.

To read the complete post from our KDSL Global Teacher Fellow Hiba Ibrahim visit
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/five-highlights-from-global-education-skills-forum-2018-hiba-ibrahim/

Global Education & Skills Forum

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KDSL Global Fellow Hiba Ibrahim is attending this year’s Global Education & Skills Forum. This is the sixth year of the event, which focuses on addressing the challenges of education, equity and employment for all people. Each year, the Global Education & Skills Forum brings together over two thousand people from all over the world to share, debate and shape new ways for education to transform our world.

Hiba Ibrahim graduated with a BA degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Jordan in 2009. She started her educational career as a foreign language curriculum designer and in different institutions in Jordan and the US. Hiba was a Fulbright grantee to teach as a full time instructor at Baldwin Wallace University in 2013.

She recently finished her Master’s degree in Education from the Institute of Education at University College London. She has also worked in virtual intercultural exchange programs and developing teacher training and student learning programs. In her free time, you find Hiba blogging on women issues, Islamophobia and education through her blog Thoughts of an Arab Woman. She is also involved in some social work projects online and in Jordan.

For more about the Global Education & Skills Forum visit https://www.educationandskillsforum.org/ehome/gesf2018.

GAUSE Educational Network, LLC

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GAUSE Educational Network, LLC, wants to engage students, champion literacy and accelerate learning. Led by Jacqueline Gause, the organization recently published Friendship in Any Language. This book highlights young friends reaching out and learning about cultural differences.

Jacqueline Gause is the founder and CEO of GAUSE Educational Network, LLC. She has extensive experience in teaching, developing curricula, and is now working in the United Arab Emirates and in the United States. Her knowledge of international expat realities informs her work, and she is passionate about children receiving the best possible education they can.

 

KDSL Global had a chance to connect with Gause. Here are her answers to questions about her organization and vision, in her own words:

In the future, is GAUSE going to expand into other literacy areas, like hosting conferences? Or will it stay in publishing alone?

GAUSE Educational Network, LLC has a desire to expand in the future in numerous ways. We are an education and publishing company built for scholars of all ages. The company serves passionately to champion literacy. The aim and mission of the company is to provide scholars and educational practitioners with support, products, and skills to develop literacy confidence.

 

What is the vision for GAUSE’s books?

One important aspect of GAUSE Educational Network, LLC books are to foster a sense of cultural responsiveness, diversity and promote a love of literacy for scholars of all ages. The company’s first book is Friendship in Any Language. This is a children’s book about the challenges and successes of making and sustaining friendships.

 

Do you plan on having GAUSE’s books translated into and published in other languages?

GAUSE Educational Network, LLC books may be published in different languages in the future.

 

To learn more about GAUSE Educational Network, LLC please visit http://gause-ednetwork.com/.

 

 

Kate O’Neil
KDSL Global Intern
Website: http://www.kdslglobal.com
Twitter: @KDSL07
Facebook: KDSL Global

 

Perceptions of Professional Learning from Teachers in the United Arab Emirates

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This report summarises the findings of the first national UAE teacher professional learning survey. It explores what teachers think about themselves situated within their schools, and how they perceive their learning as professionals, working to improve the lives of the children they care for. The report compares teachers in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the two largest private school markets in the UAE, and teachers teaching in UK and US curriculum schools. The UAE Vision 2021 National Agenda emphasizes the development of a first-rate education system, which will require a complete transformation of the current education system and teaching methods. Teacher growth is central to this, as the teachers that build professional knowledge within this context will be valuable assets as the education market matures.

For the full report visit http://kdslglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/PROFESSIONAL-LEARNING-REPORT.pdf

Edcamp Sharjah

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Edcamps are free, organic, participant-driven, un-conferences that empower educators to maximize professional learning experiences and peer networks. It’s not just for one day it’s a professional development program and a movement. Edcamp Sharjah was held during November 2017 in the United Arab Emirates. The lead organizer was Dima Yousef. KDSL Global asked Dima about the recent Edcamp Sharjah.

 

What are sample topics that educators discussed at Edcamp Sharjah? 

Edcamp is an open, participant-driven unconference. The content is proposed and provided by the participants, and is often determined on the day of the event.

Some of the topics that were suggested and discussed were Innovation in the Classroom, Classroom Management, Gifted Students, College & Career Readiness, Student & Teacher relationships, Building a Fun Classroom, Project Based Learning, Assessment, Moral Education, and Student Centered Learning.

 

What were the outcomes of the day? 

Teachers, even student volunteers, were so engaged and excited about sharing ideas, tools and best practices. Because of Edcamp Sharjah, some participants asked me if we could have more Edcamps organized at their schools. The energy and the enthusiasm to learn and share knowledge is exactly why I am passionate about organizing professional development opportunities such as Edcamp.

 

How is Edcamp making a difference in educator’s lives?

The unique structure of an Edcamp gives teachers and participants a voice and a choice. It allows them to share their experiences and knowledge in a friendly relaxed environment.  Edcamps, unlike traditional conferences, are about having conversations, sharing ideas, asking questions, and, most importantly, making connections.

 

To learn more about Edcamp visit https://www.edcamp.org/ and Edcamp Sharjah go to https://edcamp.wikispaces.com/edcamp+Sharjah