Reflecting on my community: Course 5 Final Project

One of my favorite places to be in Korea is this gorgeous reservoir in Suwon called Gwanggyo hosu gongwon, or better know as MY SOLITUDE.  It is a great space for me to unwind from the school day, take in nature and bask in the reflections that are always ON POINT!

Webster defines REFLECTION with nine different meanings.  The two that I feel are most poignant for this course and this post are #3 “The act of bending or folding back” and #7 “Consideration of some subject matter, idea or purpose.”  For a more creative take on things, I have combined the two into my own version:

“Only when we are willing to be flexible and bend or fold our way of thinking are we able to consider other subjects, ideas, points of views and purposes.”

I thought that creating a collaborative PLN would be the most difficult task with the final project. In my previous COETAIL courses, I had an amazing cohort at Seoul Foreign School and we collaborated during our Saturday sessions with Jeff Utecht, we tweeted each other throughout the week and even would discourse about our latest projects over a cup of coffee or Korean BBQ.

When I finally landed on my project involving ELL’s, I was worried that collaboration would be very difficult.  My job is different at GSIS and I do not have a common planning time with teachers.  I am in charge of the EAL program for grades K – 12 and we only have 4 staff for over 130 students in our program.  We are all worn very thin and wear multiple hats with other responsibilities.  My hopes were not high with the COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT piece of project #5, but to my surprise, my personal learning network (PLN) started to unfold right before me.

In October I attended an amazing conference with Dr. Regina Rojas for two days that focused on differentiation and scaffolding strategies that we could use in the classroom immediately.  My entire EAL team was able to go to the conference since it was local, so it was inevitable that we continued to discuss and reflect when passing in the hallway or at our weekly meetings.  The ball kept rolling after that and our school hosted a big conference called KORCOS (Korea Council of Overseas Schools) in November.  Wanting to be “flexible and bend in my way of thinking,” I decided to be a risk taker and present instead of only attending.  My original idea for my talk was about coaching, but after the Rojas conference, the discussion with another EAL staff member led us to consider co-presenting an EAL job-alike.

My detailed community engagement HERE.

I feel very fortunate to have the community engagement for my final project, but more importantly for the support in my job.  This PLN that has evolved is something that will continue for the rest of the year.  Let’s not forget that we should NOT go at this alone.  As teachers, we need one another!  We need to ask for help, we need to lend an ear or be open for a conversation.  We need to bounce ideas off one another and even create tension when asking difficult questions.  Education is most effective when done with a community!

At the reservoir, I am mesmerized by the reflections in the lake.  I usually stop and revel in the beauty that exists with the SAME picture presented in different ways.  I wonder if that is all that is needed as educators.  Pausing and stepping back and looking at our SCHOOL, our STUDENTS, our CO-WORKERS in different ways and letting them shine and shimmer before us!


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