My Learning Communities

Connected

While living in the 21st century can be scary and unknown at times, it’s a truly unique time to be alive and working in education. The sheer availability of resources and information is transforming the landscape of teaching and learning, and it’s creating so many opportunities for sharing. Recently, virtual spaces are where I feel most connected to other educators and the amazing ideas, practices and work they’re sharing.

But thankfully, VR and AR have not completely replaced teachers yet, so I feel like it would be amiss to not include real-life networks and connections that shape my teaching, learning and life experiences.

My Online PLN

As I mentioned in my first blog post, I am huge fan of Twitter, especially as an educator. Joining a couple of years ago was a total game changer for me.

I also belong to other educator groups on Facebook and follow some teachers on Instagram, but these are less impactful on my practice than Twitter.

Photo credit: Pixabay

COETAIL is another learning community that I’m part of, but I’ve also been taking some coaching courses through Eduro as well, so I’ll include those here too. Blended learning has always been great for me because it’s self-paced, personalized to my work contexts and (usually) immediately applicable.

Photo credit: edurolearning.com

 Real-Life Learning Communities

My connections at work are far-reaching, even though it’s a small school. I get to interact with and learn from a range of students, teachers and leaders. My role in the leadership and curriculum teams keep me challenged and connected in different capacities.

I also head up a Teacher Inquiry Group around co-teaching and co-planning this year under our school’s new Professional Development plan. This means that teachers who share a professional passion or goal work together as a small cohort to gain a deeper understanding of this area and then share back with the school community at the end of the year. There are 10 of us in this group and we’ve been researching, brainstorming and throwing ourselves into new teaching experiences all year. This is one of the coolest learning projects I’ve ever taken part in, and I’m excited to see what other groups have learned.

Photo credit: issp.edu.vn

The Best of Both Worlds

As luck would have it, my learning communities often intersect the virtual and real worlds. This happens when I attend monthly events, connect with educators at our sister schools and network with amazing people at regional conferences. Here are some examples:

My school belongs to a larger group/network of schools called Cognita. This allows me to connect with other educators both locally and around the globe. We use a company-wide platform where we can easily see what things we can take part in or reach out to make connections with teachers and students in other Cognita schools in the region and around the globe.¬† My current mentor, Frank, works at ISHCMC just down the road, and he’s been a tremendous resource for me in my technology integration role.

Photo credit: Cognita

Once a month, I meet up at pubs around the city to connect with other educators in person and online at #PubPD. If you’ve never heard of this event, you should jump on Twitter and check it out! Basically, there’s a new topic each month and you join in person and on Twitter at the same time as other groups of educators in other bars in other cities and you share. It’s awesome, but it’s also part of the reason I’m not losing weight at the moment!

Photo credit: evensi

Over the last couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to attend a few different conferences including Learning 2 Asia and Vietnam Tech Conference as either a participant or a presenter. These conferences have been enriching experiences in so many ways, but mainly because I’ve been able to connect with people who have shared interests, goals and experiences as educators. These events are always doubly exciting to me because I often get to meet, learn from and interact with people who I follow on Twitter. The last couple of conferences have been great because I’ve connected with current and former COETAIL graduates, people working in EdTech and even a team of tech coaches who will soon my co-workers when I move to Guangzhou, China in the summer!

Photo credits: Learning2Asia and VTC

The COETAIL Journey Begins

Hi everyone-

Before I jump into my introduction and blog post, I’d like to take a moment to apologize for being so late to the party. Admittedly, I did already write and post this initial post, but I’ve somehow managed to delete it and I’m not really sure how I did it. Anyway, here’s hoping that I can get my life together and figure it out before I fall too far behind. Ok, enough with all that- let’s get started, shall we?

My name is Reyna and I teach/coach/mentor and lead in my current role at a small international elementary school (about 520 students) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. My primary role is with technology integration and moving my school from a siloed ICT model to a fully integrated IT model where technology is embedded in the teaching and learning happening across curriculum areas. I’ve been in this position for the last 2 years and things are finally starting to come together.

Another role I assume is the specialist team coordinator where I oversee and represent the PE, Music, Art and World Languages teachers and liaise with other coordinators on the academic leadership team. This is a new role for me and I have enjoyed dipping my toes in the leadership waters, but I’m feeling overwhelmed with the added tasks.

Like many of you, my job keeps me insanely busy, but I do try to maintain a balance in life by involving myself in a range of activities outside of school. I work out with an all-female group at 5:30 every morning and that helps me feel accomplished and gives me motivation to start my day. I craft every chance I get, but mostly on the weekends and holidays. I do everything from painting and bullet journaling to embroidery and sewing, and most recently, leatherwork. My partner and I are also avid divers, so we tend to plan our vacations around that or we stay home and lounge around with our 2 cats.

I never really know how to answer the “Where are you from?” question because I’ve moved around so much, so let’s just say that I grew up in the States and have been living abroad for the last 10 years with my partner, Jeff. I have taught in upper elementary as a homeroom teacher in Vietnam, Brazil, Lebanon and now back in Vietnam.

As far as my interest in COETAIL, I would say it started last year when I kept seeing it in my Twitter feed. I had been reading up on it for awhile and then in November of last year, I attended Learning2Asia in Tokyo where I met many COETAIL graduates. All of them spoke so highly about the courses, that I decided to commit for Cohort 11. And here we are…

Of course, what I didn’t know at the time was that my schedule was about to get a LOT crazier because a teacher at my school suddenly passed away just before the Christmas break. As you can imagine, this has shaken our whole community and we’ve been slowly recovering/grieving and planning our next steps. One of the decisions made was to appoint me to his homeroom class because they know me and were unable to find a suitable replacement in time. I am overwhelmed but genuinely honored to be stepping into the classroom again after a couple of years and look forward to all of the opportunities COETAIL will provide for learning in my new context.

I am an absolute Twitter junkie, so you can definitely connect with me there @MsReyna2. Aside from that, I’m active on Facebook and Instagram, although I’m going through an internal struggle with whether I can delete them because it doesn’t add value to my life these days- anyone else going through that?

So, there you have it. Me in all my crazy, hectic messiness. I’m excited to share this journey with each of you and I took a personal day today in order to catch up on your blogs and this week’s assignments. I hope you are all having a great week!