Thursday, March 20, 2014

Barcelona and Beyond!

I am incredibly fortunate to have experienced my third Microsoft in Education Global Forum event in Barcelona, Spain, last week. Being able to gather with peers, education policy leaders and innovative school leaders from around the world has a direct impact not only on me but also on my students.

There are so many outstanding moments and learning experiences crammed into this amazing event that it is difficult to articulate succinctly the full effect it has on me as an educator. One of the most challenging aspects of the conference for me was the Learn-a-thon activity. I was teamed with three other teachers from Spain, the Czech Republic and Costa Rica. We were charged with developing a learning experience for our students with a central focus of poverty, gender equality or sustainability.

The process required me to employ the same 21st Century skills that I demand of my students daily: communication, collaboration, perseverance, flexibility and productivity. Initially we were excited to get to know each other’s strengths and interests and learn about our respective roles at school, but as we tried to reach consensus about the direction and content of our project, frustration levels grew due to language barriers.

It was a fantastic opportunity for me to walk in my students shoes and be reminded of the difficulties they face every day working in teams, and implement the strategies I teach them to overcome barriers and be successful. And ultimately we were successful because we found common ground: we were all passionate and invested in the project, we appreciated and utilized the diverse talents we brought to the table and we were motivated to do the best job we could. There were moments of struggle and tussle, and moments of joy and laughter and in the end we walked away feeling good about our work. More importantly we walked away as friends.

Therein lays the key to what makes the Microsoft Global Forum so powerful. It’s about bringing like-minded people together to talk and share and learn from and with each other. My personal learning network grows exponentially and I return to school supercharged with energy and ideas and the knowledge that I have a web of colleagues who I can turn to for advice and support, encouragement and inspiration. It’s about connecting and empowering people who want to make a difference in the lives of their students.

My only wish is that my students could be there with me. They also deserve to experience the exhilaration of being around like-minded peers, to share and learn and grow from collaborative learning experiences with students from all over the globe. They need to be uplifted by expert presenters and gain sustenance from building meaningful, authentic global relationships. My desire to somehow make this happen has filled me with a new sense of purpose, and I am thrilled that I can immediately start making progress towards achieving my new goal.

I am beyond excited that my students have been invited to Skype into the We Day event in Seattle tomorrow. We Day brings together students from around the nation who aspire to make a positive change in the world. Participation is earned through service and my students will be sharing the work they have done this year with Project Cope. Every time I watch the We Day video I am overwhelmed with emotion as the purpose is to empower students to redefine what is possible.

I am hopeful that the experience tomorrow will prove to my students that by working together, they can make the world a better place.
   I am hopeful that Skyping into the event is the first step towards my students attending the event in person next year so that they too can experience for themselves the power of gathering with peers, leaders and policy makers. I am determined to provide them with the opportunity to experience their own Barcelona!
                                      Image Courtesy of Partners in Learning Network


  1. Great.... Congratulations for your future success...Shiroma Weerathunge from Sri Lanka..

  2. Congrats! Happy to meet you! If possible would like to have a session with u and your students in skype!

    1. That sounds like a great idea! Email me: looking forward to it