May 5th – Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo is a traditional day of celebration in Mexico. A day when the entire country celebrates that long ago victory at The Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. It is a day when the citizens of Mexico come together to celebrate their ancestors who, against the odds, chose to take a risk and try to fend off the French even though they had a much smaller and ill equipped militia. The victory they achieved that day created a sense of national unity, a sense of pride. It proved to the world that great things can be achieved when one believes – No voice is too small…
Fast forward 154 years…
On May 5th, Cinco de Mayo, 2016 a small group of educators from the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership will come together to embark on a new adventure. These educators have volunteered to put themselves out there, take a risk, and let themselves be vulnerable. You see on May 5th, this small group of educators will be immersed in an Avatar Teaching Scenario session. Our organization has teamed up with Mursion and their TeachLivE program to provide our teachers with a unique opportunity to reflect upon their current teaching practice.
If you’ve never heard of TeachLivE you really should check it out:
“The TLE TeachLivE™ Lab is a mixed-reality teaching environment supporting teacher practice in classroom management, pedagogy and content. The TLE TeachLivE™ Lab, developed at the University of Central Florida, is currently being used at over 85 campuses in the United States and growing to include multiple school districts and international partners. Each partner utilizes the TLE TeachLivE™ Lab in a unique manner depending on the needs of their students, teachers, professors, and community stakeholders. The TLE TeachLivE™ Lab provides pre-service and in-service teachers the opportunity to learn new skills and to craft their practice without placing “real” students at risk during the learning process.”
And here’s a quick YouTube clip to view: TeachLivE Digital Story Short
Now, from what I can find, the TeachLiveE avatars have largely been used in training teachers at the pre-service level, which is great. Our organization, however, is hoping to utilize the avatars as a way to help our in-service teachers hone their teaching craft. You see these avatars can be set at all levels of classroom management difficulty and they can be set up to help a teacher work on a particular skill for example, increasing wait time, asking more open ended questions etc. Teachers will have the option of coming to the avatar sessions with a skill already in mind that they would like to work on or they can choose to interact with the avatars first, reflect on the experience then perhaps choose an area they’d like to target based on their reflections. Up until this point, we have had only a limited few teachers interact with the avatars, and it has been in a more general format. Our next steps are to bring in a group of teachers who will act as our test subjects as we work to develop meaningful professional development opportunities for the teachers in our region.
So what does this have to do with Cinco de Mayo and #EduHeroes?
Coming back to the theme of Cinco de Mayo, where an entire country celebrates the efforts of a small group, I would like to celebrate the teachers from my organization who have willingly volunteered to put themselves out there and interact with the avatars. This may not seem like such a big deal to some but you need to know that this will not be just my teachers and myself “playing'” with this cool new technology. Our assistant superintendent, superintendent and PR person will be there, in addition to a representative from a local college who is interested in learning more about the avatars and I think I’ve even heard that some of our principals are coming over to “check it out.”
So you see, these teachers who have agreed to be our guinea pigs as we embark on this journey of discovery with the avatars really are my #EduHeroes. They’re willingly putting themselves out there, letting themselves be vulnerable, not only in front of each other, but also in front of the “head honchos.” They do this because they seek to blaze a trail so that their colleagues have a smoother path to follow. They do this because I asked, and they trust me. They do this because they know that the efforts of a few can make the lives of many better. They do this because they believe in the art of teaching. They do this because they continually seek to improve upon and hone their own teaching craft. They do this because, like the small Mexican militia at The Battle of Puebla, they know that the efforts of a few can have a positive impact on an entire nation – school.
So as I wrap up this post I charge each of you to take a moment to identify and recognize those trailblazers, those #EduHeroes that are part of your organization. Celebrate them and when Cinco de Mayo rolls around be sure to remember that the efforts of a small few can have positive impact on an entire nation – school. We CAN affect positive change in education! Together We’re Better!
The Optimistic Educator…