As many of you may know, I'm one of those teachers who are actually happy to be one, despite the crisis, all of the red tape, the stressful routine, the neverending meetings, you name it. Now, I think that's because I've found in my career a safe net that provides me from falling at times, and that keeps me motivated and supported at all times: that's teaching teams.
I’ve been teaching for 15 years now, first in private schools in Italy and abroad, teaching Italian as a foreign language, then in the Italian public schools, as a secondary teacher of Literature, History and Geography.
And all the way, I’ve been fond of team working (both among teachers and students), of international cooperation, and of edu-tech.
Every single year of my career has been marked by a different kind of collaboration with my colleagues, my pupils, and my international partners. And year after year, the net – the virtual dimension of “being together” – has gained a central role in my teaching. That is to say, I’m more and more involved into teaching and learning together with people (teachers, students, experts) that are actually not in my classroom.
But let’s see the steps of my team-building process in the public school:
1. First - edUtopia: at the beginning of my career in the public school, teaching in a Lower Secondary school, back in 2000, I taught in a course with extended time. This means the students had 36 hours/week: 5 in the morning (mon-sat) + 6 in the afternoon (two afternoons of 3 hours each). It was a paradise, as teamworking was officially recognized: in fact, in the afternoons there were hours of teamteaching – Mother Tongue + Foreign Languages and Mother Tongue + Maths/Science. Our Ministry of Education understood how important it is for teachers to work together in order to have the pupils learn (understanding the connections between different subjects) and, but I’m not sure the Ministry was actually aware of this, the teachers actually learnt a lot from each other by being together in the same class. Teaching Teams were a great professional development tool at zero cost (think in terms of teaching styles, assessment, etc.). We made our first steps in the world of European projects together. We worked with our first partners and started sharing online. Do I need to say that our best projects were born here? out of collaboration among colleagues off- and on line?
2. Next – why paying two for one? The edUtopia period lasted some five/six years, enough for me to learn a lot and to miss them badly now. Then of course, as everywhere in the world for what I know, governments decided to cut on “unessential expenses” – read: education and services. Paying for two teachers at the same time was considered to be crazy, so if we wanted to go on in our collaboration, we had to do this in our spare time. Or we could do it – we were lucky at the beginning – with the support of Local Authorities that paid for extra hours of co-teaching. It was no more official, still we had some hours to actually share in the classroom. By now, we had partners throughout Europe and having them with us, during our lesson, quickly became something normal. So, in order to learn from other professionals, we could not only turn to each other, but also to our net-colleagues. We run lots of successful projects (and as you know, by “successful” I mean those projects where students learn & enjoy, not only those actually awarded) and we learnt a lot ourselves.
At least, that’s what happens to me every day. In this blog first of all, and then in eTwinning (in Groups, in the "eTwinning e la realtà" teachers' room, etc.).
So I thank my colleagues, those I meet every day in my school, I thank my colleagues and partners troughout Europe, I thank my friends blogger, met online, here and there, in the strangest ways, and I thank all of the students I’ve met in my life. I thank you for what I keep learning (and teaching) every day with your help.
Luckily, we are each other's best resource in a time of crisis.
Learning is a social process, and I’m happy to “go social” with you.