The Pamoja PLC blog has now been moved to Pamoja PLC Blog
The Pamoja PLC blog has now been moved to Pamoja PLC Blog
In my f2f teaching, my school (South Island, Hong Kong) just held its six annual film awards. This was an event that started small with just a few categories and which has grown into a major showcase evening in which the 2013 event celebrated film, television and media work by awarding 22 trophies. This model was also adopted for an inter schools film awards (2009 & 2010 English Schools Foundation Film Awards) and in 2011 the more ambitious Hong Kong Schools Film Awards. Unsurprisingly, in my role as a Pamoja SL Film teacher, I wanted to extend this idea to Pamoja students too and subsequently decided to start relatively small, with six awards given this year although I would envisage that the event will quickly grow in both size and stature.
Let me start by saying that film awards are much more than simply a celebration of film. Nominees and winners (not to mention subject references written by staff) alike can add kudos to their University applications by mentioning these accolades. It also adds a crucial real world, institutional and authentic dimension to their study of film because as we all know, film awards can help student films gain access to film festivals and hence, increasingly important film awards too. A knowledge of the festival circuit and the skills required to get films noticed in an increasingly networked and viral world seems appropriate terrain for our course.
The six awards for this year were given in categories, which reflect IB Film and the five designated production roles therein. This encapsulates cinematography, editing, sound design, scriptwriting and directing. The final award went to the student responsible for making the most accomplished overall film. The judging team was made up of the current five film teachers. Jeffrey Goldberg assessed the scriptwriting role, choosing Y1 student, Jun Sekiya as the winner. Mark Tooms chose the role of editor and selected the work of Y2 student, Elisa Björklund. I was given the category of sound design with the award given to Chris Jungo, again a Y1 student. The big winner, taking three awards in total went to the beautifully composed and thought provoking film submitted by Y2 student Emir Erbes who won the cinematography, directing and film award. The director’s category was selected by film teacher, Regan Oakley and the cinematography award by HoD, Breen O’Reilly.
Elisa Björklund- Editor’s Award
Chris Jungo- Sound Design Award
Whilst obvious congratulations go to the winners, I would also like to mention the nominees, several of whom came very close to winning the main prize. These were Kathryn Hanlon, Jonathan Sirtes, Syrian Rouvet, Ana Fesser, Stefan Velev, Ellis Kaan Ozen Reanna Peters, Uhunoma Edamwen, Samu Ratus, Selin Bonfil, Stephanie Glyzewski, Selin Bonfil, Stephanie Glyzewski and Eden Gordon. In addition, I’m sure the whole team would share my desire to congratulate all film students for some tremendously thoughtful and well executed work throughout the year. Many excellent films were not nominated for the awards but this does not detract from the quality of work exhibited across each and every practical challenge.
Jun Sekiya– Scriptwriting Award
Given the quality of filmmaking exhibited, the whole team is highly optimistic when looking ahead to next year. We are attracting more young filmmakers than ever whilst the current Y1 cohort face the challenge of making a full 4-5mins SL film as they graduate into their second year of study. Personally, my feeling is that the most exciting opportunity represented by the Pamoja pedagogical set-up is the possibility of students working internationally to make films. Imagine a scenario in which a filmmaker in Taiwan writes the script for a sound designer and cinematographer in Japan before the film is edited by a student in Singapore. Whilst the logistic challenge would be considerable, I believe it is not insurmountable and if successful would represent a new paradigm and ‘unique selling proposition’ in the Pamoja brand identity.
Post written by Iain Williamson
Making the change from the traditional classroom environment to online teaching involves quite a few adjustments. Rather than being provided with a timetable, you are able to set your own schedule. There is no commute, no parent/teacher conferences, no government set targets or policy changes and very few disciplinary issues. Time spent planning lessons and preparing resources is reduced greatly, as most of the content has already been developed. For that reason predictability rules over spontaneity. The classes are truly multicultural and most of my students are better travelled than I am. Almost all of them speak more languages than I do. It is an enlightening and humbling experience.
Halfway through my first year of teaching online with Pamoja, I finally felt I had a good grasp of online teaching. I had settled into a routine of marking, feeding back to and supporting students. I was comfortable with the technology, using Skype and Elluminate to communicate with students, finding fixes to common problems, etc. Things were going well.
Then I was given the opportunity to take on two November session classes (the other class takes exams in May). Going from one class to three was quite an adjustment. The number of students I was responsible for more than doubled. Along with this, the number of SBCs I was dealing with also increased. Once you and your class have settled in and become comfortable with the site and technology, it’s easy to forget how demanding the first few weeks are on everybody’s time. Suddenly, two new classes of students were having trouble accessing the textbooks or finding course content. The number of emails I dealt with on a daily basis rose exponentially. As did the number of support tickets I had to raise!
It took the first term for the November classes to settle in and for me to work out a schedule that worked for me. I start the day by checking my external email and dealing with any urgent matters. I then log into the site and check for pager messages. I deal with the urgent messages and make note of the others to deal with later. I then check the internal email and again, deal with urgent matters and leave less urgent messages “unread” to return to later. The process can take between 10 minutes and an hour, depending on the day. My next task is to check the discussion forums. I read through the posts, replying to a few, emailing some students to comment on their posts privately. After that I move on to dropbox assignments. Marking assignments is what takes up the bulk of my time. Going from one class to three, it often seems that the marking is never ending, especially in weeks where there are multiple dropbox assignments per class. After this I will have a quick check of the wikis and look at a few student blogs. I find I use my time much more effectively if I concentrate on one task at a time. If I flit around between emails, dropboxes and blogs, I’m much less efficient.
After almost a full semester of teaching three classes there are some definite pros and cons.
Teaching multiple classes with Pamoja is different to teaching multiple classes in a face to face school. The demands on your time are very different. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who had the flexibility to work from home full time and was prepared to spend a lot of time in front of the computer.
This post was written by Pamoja Education Psychology teacher Nicole Gosling
This is a picture that was taken of me snorkeling in Xel Ha, Mexico.
I was carrying my smart phone with me the entire time. Does it look like I was taking pictures? Nope, think again. I found a spot with WiFi and I was able to check on my online class!
That is the story of my life!
When I started my career as an IB teacher, teaching Information Technology in a Global Society (ITGS), I never foresaw what was to come in the future. I began in September 2008, teaching at Cambridge High School in Amman, Jordan. I very much enjoyed the international mindedness of the program that taught both me and my students how to become more open minded and risk taking.
I have always loved traveling and participating in other cultures. This love of travel and culture is due in part to my international family. My father is Palestinian. My mother was Slovak. I’ve lived most of my life in Jordan, but my brothers and sisters are scattered around in the world in various countries. I’ve been privileged to travel the world when I was younger, but these days my desire is to visit the places where my family is located. Being employed as a traditional school teacher limited the amount of time I could travel, however.
I had my regular daily routine. I would get up very early in the morning, get prepared for the day, and drive to school. I taught each day in the same classroom, then I went home. I did that every single day for five years. To tell you the truth, I hated it!
Now don’t get me wrong…I didn’t hate being a teacher or being part of the school. I didn’t hate the IB program or the subject I taught. I hated the fact that I had one single routine that tied me to one specific location all the time!
I met Dave, my husband, during my five years as a teacher. Dave had lived in Jordan for a while but eventually moved back to the United States. Now I had one more place that I wanted to be! But on a teacher’s schedule, it was impossible for me to take time off to go visit during the school year.
As Dave and I began talking about marriage, it occurred to me that I would eventually have to give up my career – including the daily schedule that I complained about – in order to move to another country. I panicked! How difficult would it be to find another job? Who would want to hire the foreigner with the accent? If there aren’t any IB schools in the area I was to live, where would I teach? I felt lost.
In the midst of my dilemma, I came across an announcement for an online teaching job with Pamoja Education. I decided to give it a try. I wasn’t sure if online teaching would be a good fit for me. I was interested to find out how mobile teaching would change my life.
That was two years ago. Today I am still a teacher, and still teaching a course that I love. I have online students who I very much enjoy to teach. And on top of this, I have flexibility in my schedule. I am constantly outdoors and I easily travel several times a year. Mobile teaching has changed my life. My transition to a new country was so much easier. I am now living in the United States and I moved my “office” with me. With my new mobility, I was able to keep my job, plan for a wedding, go on a honeymoon, move to another country, and settle into a new life, all with the ease of a flexible schedule. As long as I have my iPhone, iPad, or laptop (along with access to the Internet), I can work. I love it! What could be better than using technology in order to teach it every day!
This post was written by Pamoja Education ITGS teacher Zena Taha
Teaching is teaching right? Whoever you are teaching whether it is adults or children, experienced professionals or novices, face to face or online; it’s all kind of the same isn’t it?
As an online and Face2Face teacher of both adults and teenagers I see that there is an overlap but also some key differences, not in how the participants learn or even in the materials shared but in my role as the ‘teacher’. I agree with Thomas Carruthers when he said: “A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.” – the trick here is to work out what your students need you to be to begin with and how your role will evolve through the learning journey.
Getting to know our students, their motivation for joining our courses, their prior experiences, level of expertise, what they want to achieve and their current ‘fear’ level is essential. We need to share some of ourselves with them too so the two way relationship can build. Having private spaces where one to one conversations can occur as well as public spaces where common concerns can be addressed are useful for all.
Whoever we are teaching, we all know that there will be students who know more than we do about certain things, (did I hear anyone say ‘technology’?!). The anonymous quote: “The secret of teaching is to appear to have known all your life what you learned this afternoon.” sometimes seems painfully true in my online teaching journey! We are all continuing to learn as people who happen to be teachers and I think this on-going education is something we should share with our students whether they are adults or teenagers. I always tell my classes that I don’t know everything but I know how to find out the things I do not know. Isn’t that what we are trying to teach our students?
So once we have got to ‘know’ our students we then need to start to adapt our approaches to meet their specific needs.
The teenagers we teach generally want us to take on the role of ‘teacher’ in the more traditional sense: tell me what to do, how to do it, answer my questions and I’ll do it…They are working toward the shared goal of achieving in the IB subject we are teaching them, they expect to have the pace of the course dictated to them by their teacher and often have timetabled sessions to address the content.
In my experience adults want to achieve a much more diverse set of goals and we have to facilitate our courses in a way which allows each individual to shine. Most adults I teach are participating in courses on top of their other responsibilities which can compete with their desire to learn. Adults generally enjoy self-direction and are ‘impatient’ learners who like to set their own pace and will often forge their own path if we are not quick to respond to their needs. The role of the ‘teacher’ then shifts from instructor to facilitator and we need to be aware that we are working with experienced learners who are more willing to take responsibility for their learning.
I believe that our challenge is to make all of our classes learner-centred rather than teacher-centred and help our teenage students develop into the self-motivated, self-directed, adaptable and driven learners I see in my adult students.
This post was written by Pamoja Education Economics and Business & Management teacher Ruth West
– Will Richardson, The Connected Teacher: powering up. 2012
The Pamoja Education Handbook 2012‐13, in section C, dedicated to Management and Support System, defines an associate teacher as a candidate to a position as an online teacher who after having passed the training was not allocated to a course due to the number of students registered.
In the Handbook, Pamoja recognizes the benefit of keeping an associate teacher actively involved with the organization through participation in the Pamoja Professional Learning Community (PLC), so that within a certain timeframe and when the situation requires it, the organization can count on the associate teacher’s support as a substitute teacher or in any other role.
Once I completed my training as one of many candidates for online teaching, I accepted my new mission as an associate teacher with enthusiasm. Since September 2012, I have kept working and learning from Pamoja Education.
As an associate teacher, Pamoja invited me to stay active in the PLC and opened a vast number of possibilities for me. One of such possibilities has been to work as a Conversation Teacher for the Spanish Ab Initio Course. In this position, I was assigned to class in order to assist the professor of the course by offering the students oral activities through Skype and live sessions via Elluminate. Thus, students can put into practice the grammatical and lexical content learned during the course.
Working as an Online Conversation Teacher has been a great experience and a great opportunity to learn from collaboration and duties. With incalculable samples of professionalism from faculty, heads of department and especially from the teacher of my assigned course who gave me the support and the impetus to start working, I embraced the moment to make sense of my new role for my students and for myself.
How am I doing this? By following certain practices that have since become routine. I can summarize these practices in four simple actions: learn, collaborate, dive in and reflect.
All those actions come together to allow me to be a connected teacher, or at least to move toward it. This is an essential characteristic of the 21st century teacher that must deal with our already connected students.
Today I consider myself a passionate and unstoppable learner. Part of the credit goes to Pamoja Education because of the opportunity that organization gave me as an Associate Teacher. That opportunity has been he inspiration and incentive to want to improve myself to better serve my IB students.
This post was written by Pamoja Education Spanish Conversation teacher Margarita García
Teaching film online feels a lot like being part of a ‘Brave New World.’ The most wonderful thing about the combination of film and the online classroom is that both are right at the cutting edge of technology, whilst remaining grounded in what has come before. It is this mixture of old and new, coupled with the constant state of creation that is student filmmaking, which makes the Online IB Film Course so exciting.
As an educator for Pamoja Education I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by a supportive group of brilliant colleagues and working with a bright bunch of young people from all over the world. One of the most unique and thrilling facets of teaching online is the fact that my class is made up of students from literally all four corners of the globe. This international component of the online platform is infinitely more enriching than the traditional classroom setting. We are discovering world cinema through the eyes of locals and foreigners alike. We have the luxury to have first hand knowledge from a wide swath of people from a diverse set of cultures. This helps my class appreciate films in a much richer and fuller fashion. Each new day we are challenging old paradigms and learning seamlessly across a handful of time zones.
This post was written by Pamoja Education Film teacher Jeffrey Goldberg
Do you remember your high school experience? How many options did you have for learning? I remember the first time I saw the ‘internet’. We were crammed in a small bedroom at a friend’s house, hovering around her large desktop listening to that screeching connection noise as the modem connected and then spent probably 10 minutes waiting for pages to load! Aside from the word processing class in high school and a basic computer programming class in university, technology did not play a role in my high school time. Look at how the internet has changed in the last 20 years! Today, online learning opportunities are all around us and as teachers, contrary to what many other teachers fear, we won’t become extinct, we will evolve with the changing times.
For me, I have been on both sides of online learning: the student in a graduate program and now a teacher with Pamoja. In both situations, I have had to learn a lot and despite the obstacles, it has made me a better student and a better teacher. In both situations, it has pushed me to extend myself beyond my comfort zone and reach out to learn more. I could stay in my comfort zone and not seek out the changes or I could dive in, get lost and be a part of it and change as the times change.
I can honestly say that I am learning something new almost every day with regards to technology. Most recently, I am excited about the mentorship that my HoDs at Pamoja have given me in helping me to discover amazing online professional development opportunities. When I taught in Canada, it was easy to be a part of the school division professional development initiatives and keep up with educational trends. Living overseas sometimes isolates you when you work within the confines of your school grounds as a stand alone unit. With technology, fresh ideas and support are literally at our fingertips. I have registered for a MOOC. Do I know what I am doing? Nope, no clue. Am I scared? You bet. Am I excited? Even more so. It is this mixture of feelings that helps me to know that I am doing the right thing. I am reaching out of my comfort zone, hoping to evolve and keep up with the times.
This post was written by Pamoja Education Spanish teacher Cheryl Hordenchuk
As we chatted, we noticed that teachers across courses go through similar stages as they advance through the world of online teaching. And so, we wanted to let Pamoja Educators and online teachers out there know that we have also climbed the steep online learning curve. Experience makes the difference, but we are still climbing the curve, as it is changing and evolving rapidly.
Below are a 100-word thoughts of ‘online wisdom’ that Pamoja Heads of Department wanted to share with online teachers.
There really is no norm or typical class or student. Teaching in a global learning community demands constant innovation and perseverance, and provides endless professional growth opportunities.
It is so important to establish an open and respectful learning environment early in the course. Students need to understand their role in the course and how teachers and classmates are there to support and encourage. Once this happens, then real learning can begin.
That I would be able to get to know my students just as well as in a face to face class.
The learning curve is steep but worth it. Eventually the system works for you, not against you.
The first few weeks will be quite demanding but in time you and your students will master the technology and the focus can return to teaching and learning. Another unexpected surprise might be just how good some of your students will be at technology and how willing they are to share their knowledge with you and their classmates.
There is only so much you can do to facilitate engagement and you need to give some of your students time to come to the course themselves. In addition, you should not agonise over non-engagnment or poor performance, in the online environment students have very different learning curves and at times it is best to just let them be once you have followed the appropriate procedures.
I enjoyed the process of finding out things for myself and I have found most of the functionality fairly easy to figure out. In terms of working with students I have found interaction similar to being in a face to face school. Perhaps the only thing that I would like to have known is how a little bit of support for students goes a very long way. I also think I have spent too long on students who have not engaged properly.
Online was for me both incredibly new and also strangely familiar and so I found my development organic and I cannot really identify one thing. I guess I would say that teachers have to think of the task as a process for both the student and teacher, once you have figured out your process then all will be well. What that process is does depend to some extent on your own context.
That the insignificant and unimportant tasks take some much valuable time. That being tech-savvy does not help you avoid getting trapped in a tech problem loop in the first month.
a. Work out a plan to manage your time. Make the plan clear to your students; otherwise, it will be a 7-days a week job.
b. Be very clear with your students about expectations for contributing to discussions.
Be aware of what you are getting into from a time perspective, online teaching is different than face to face teaching but is not an easy way out, the stresses and requirements are still there – they are just different stresses and requirements.
Don’t be scared to ask questions of the other teachers… you are not being judged or watched … the only bad question is the one you don’t ask..we are a community and everyone is keen to help.
I wish someone had told me “remember that being online does not mean you always have to be available”. Managing my time properly was one of the hardest things I had to learn during my first months of online teaching. Devote times to things you love! Give yourself a computer day off!
Be enthusiastic. Make sure you develop an early rapport with your students. Show them how interested you are in their learning, read their blogs, they open a whole new window into their perspective of the class. Read the lessons ahead of time and prepare a list of posible questions your students might have.
If you need help, dont be afraid to ask for it! Your HOD , peers and the Faculty advisors are always there to help! Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Teaching online is an entirely different world! Enjoy it!
The first year is tough! However, don’t let the first few weeks scare you. You will feel more comfortable in the new role after the first month. Be organized: organize resources, emails, etc so that you can access it effectively the following years.
Look for a ‘close buddy’. Do not do everything on your own. Many tasks can be shared. COLLABORATE!
Every week, online educators meet on Twiiter to chat about matters concerning Online Education. There have been talks about assessment, online mentoring, professional development, etc. These chats, called Inside Online Learning Chats (#IOLchat) are held every Wednesday at 12:00 pm ET (5:00pm GMT) on Twitter.
Educational Twitter chats are an extraordicary way to learn more about global pedagogy of particular subjects or education in general. Week after week educators from all over the world gather around a hashtag to chat about a prescribed topic concerning their chat. There is a Math chat, and English chat, Foreign Language chat, Education chat, Digital literacy chat, Leadership chat, you name it.
Believe it or not, the educational conversations undergone on these Twitter chats are insightful, full of experience and diverse points of view. Educators who have a genuine interest on these topics share innovative ideas and practices.
Schedules and hashtags for all Educational Twitter chats can be found here: Educational Chats on Twitter
This week’s #IOLchat will be co-hosted by Pamoja PLC. The chat details are as follows:
This week we welcome Guest Host @Pamoja_PLC! These global instructors offer IB Diploma subjects online.
Teaching in an online learning environment differs a great deal from a traditional classroom. Whether you instructing both types of courses or transitioning from face-to-face (F2F) to online, you will likely encounter challenges related to time management and instructional strategy selection. Join us this week to discuss how instructors can create a sustainable work environment and maintain professional integrity in online and on-ground classes.
Q1: What role does time play in teaching online vs. face-to-face?
Q2: What are your favorite time management practices?
Q3: How do your instructional strategies differ online and face-to-face?
Q4: What other delivery factors impact your workload, teaching style, feedback, interaction with students?
Q5: What is your advice for first-time online instructors?
Tips for Online Instructors: Managing, Files, Feedback, and Workload from Faculty Focus
Teaching Online – A Time Comparison from Joseph Cavanaugh, Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration
Strategies for Managing the Online Workload [Podcast] from Lawrence C. Ragan, Penn State World Campus, iTunesU
5 Fundamental Strategies for New Online Instructors from Inside Online Learning, OnlineCollege.org
To join a Twitter chat, the first thing you need to know is the hashtag that represents the chat. What is a hashtag? A hashtag is word or acronym preceded by the pound (#) sign. For example, the Inside Online Learning chat hashtag is #IOLchat and the Education chat hashtag is #edchat. Once you know the hashtag,
you can follow the chat like this if you are not on Twitter:
(to view video with the best quality, click on the little wheel on the bottom right and choose 720P)
or, you can participate like this if you are on Twitter:
To find out about each week’s topic go here: Twitter chat with Inside Online Learning
#IOLchat archives can be accessed here: #IOLchat Archives
If you have any questions about Twitter and its use as a professional development and networking tool, please let us know and we will assist.
The summary of the “Balancing Face to Face and Online Teaching” chat can be found here: http://www.onlinecollege.org/2013/03/07/iolchat-report-balancing-f2f-online-teaching/