I always knew going into COETAIL that this element was going to be the hardest for me. As a self-confessed lurker, I knew that I wanted to move out of the shadows but I still find myself getting all ‘anxty’ any time I go to post anything online. This is to the point where Facebook checked in with me recently to remind me that I hadn’t posted a status update in over 3 years. So is it possible for a lurker to come out in the daytime or will they be doomed to stay in darkness and shadow for eternity? I’m not quite sure where this analogy is going but let’s find out.
Despite COVID coming along and taking away opportunities to meet face to face, professional development opportunities have continued to abound this year. I have been helping organize and participate in Lead Inclusion at my school this year. This has been a tremendous opportunity to get to meet Lee Ann Jung, Abigail Love, and a host of other teachers from around the world. Throughout the course we have been connecting through two different online platforms. We started by using Schoology and then migrated to Thinkific to share our discussions with one another asynchronously.
In addition to discussion boards, we have also been taking part in synchroneous online discussions through Zoom. These were really useful to connect with other educators and we spent time in small groups as well as as a class sharing our reflections on how to build an inclusive school. From my school, we had a team of 13 teachers so it has been great to work alongside teachers from my own school who I don’t always have the opportunity to work with.
One of the exciting learning opportunities came from our last session where the class started to talk about supporting students with intellectual disabilities. One of the teachers from the International School Bangkok started to talk about the opportunities her school provided learners. At my school we have a student with an intellectual disability who is about to transition into middle school and so we are going to meet with the other teacher next week to get a better understanding of what middle school might look like for her.
Buidling community with families and teachers
In February my department had a new member join us from New Zealand named Kylie. She is a speech language pathologist who had been waiting for an opportunity to get into the country since July 2020. I feel as though I have learned much from her, particularly in how to build deeper connections with families. Where we have students who cross over we have formed WeChat groups with both myself and her where we share how our students are progressing. These groups also allow us to see what each other is doing as well as helping monitor the student’s progress.
One of the most beneficial outcomes from this is that these conversations have helped families know more about what we are working on in class and empower them to help their children at home. Kylie has been an amazing coach to me since joining us a couple of months ago and I have been extremely grateful to get her insight and support on the students who we are working with to support.
Contact with COETAILers
Cindy set up a group chat for the members of COETAIL 12 back in September of last year. It was really helpful for me to get an idea of where other members of the cohort were with their projects throughout course 5. I have to admit here that I came pretty late to the party, however, I was grateful for the help and support that the other COETAIL educators were sharing.
Beginnings of a PLN
I feel as though COETAIL really helped me realize the possibilities when it comes to connecting with other educators. Twitter still remains far too intemidating for me to use with any regularity. I’m not sure if it’s possible to feel social anxiety about tweeting but if it is then I certainly have it. I have used Twitter in the past during the Global Read Aloud, however, when it comes to sharing blog posts or personal ideas I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve drafted a message and thought, “Ah, I’ll post that later.”
In some respects I am guilty of still being a lurker, however, I am so grateful for the opportunities that COETAIL has provided me in getting to meet other educators. Additionally, this blog post has definitely helped me see that I may not totally be living in the gloom anymore. I think, at the very least, I may have taken a step outside the shadows and it’s a direction I want to keep heading in.