During the past decade, more and more teachers in the EU have been involved in international projects.
Students from all over Europe had the opportunity to meet, study/work/play together, and even live together, thank to Erasmus, Grundtvig, Comenius, eTwinning. National barriers have been overcome - and prejudices with them, at least that's what we hope.
Personally, as a teacher, I just got curious. I wanted to know what was going on in the US, and I tried to contact teachers, or better, teachers' nets, living and working there. And once again, I couldn't help thinking how fantastic the web is. I found what I was looking for in a matter of minutes.
I started with a couple of great communities, Teacher 2.0 and Classroom 2.0. I met and chatted with lots of teachers from all around the world (literally!), I took Steven Hargadon's teacher 2.0 online workshop ...and yes, I'm a teacher 2.0 !!!
If you've never heard of this online workshop before, do give it a try: it's simple, clear and very useful.
At first, if you're already familiar with the web, you could feel it's easy for you - but in fact it's extremely interesting for both its content and its structure. And it could be a precious resource for eTwinning Ambassadors, teachers' trainers, and all of the educators involved with training others about the web and its opportunities.
I'm still an active member of these communities, and, as it always happen online, one place led to the other, one person led to hundreds of others. My Professional (or Personal? not so easy to draw a line) Learning Network is expanding day after day. And I love this!
Then, at the end of 2011, I found on the eTwinning Desktop some info about the Transatlantic Educators Dialogue (TED), sponsored by the European Union Center and the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This programme is supposed to "build bridges" between teachers in the EU and in the US, by having them reflect on their perception of "the Other" - and of themselves of course. The aim of these teachers' meetings is to better realize how we see others, and how others see us in the classrooms and schools of different countries.
"TED is an online platform for educators in the United States and the European Union to collaborate in an online format to explore and examine how other countries, and in particular, their own country, are represented in their classroom and other schools in the U.S. and the E.U."
It's the first time I actually have the opportunity to talk about such delicate topics - personal and National identity, prejudices, approaches to teaching, students' and teachers' assessment, youth culture, immigration, and so on - with colleagues coming from so many countries.
I'm realizing how things work (or don't) in different realities, and I've lots of new ideas, suggestions, doubts, and hopes.
As I always say, the best way to learn it's out of your own experience... but learning from someone else's experience definitely ranks second. I've never had so many people, experiences, stories and identities available - and willing to share.
One of the best part of this course is that we work with colleagues on a chosen subject and we present our ideas and our perspective on that subject during the weekly online meetings. That's great, since we have the opportunity to work together with new colleagues, present our ideas and listen to the others' different points of view, experiences, doubts, beliefs.
I've had the opportunity to work with Gaelle Farout, and to discuss identity and otherness with Annamaria Donnarumma and Lorena Mihalec. It's a discussion and a reflection still in progress, and I hope it will last.
I'll write more about this great experience, so stay tuned for more :)
And thanks to all the great people who keep helping, supporting, and inspiring me in my job!