Although there is a lot of debate (see NPR article here) on the precise origin of the claimed “African” proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child“, it might originate from the Nigerian Igbo culture and proverb ‘Oran a azu nwa’, which means it takes a community or village to raise a child (Wikipedia).
The past fifteen months proved to me that it indeed takes a community to help you grow.
Fifteen months ago, in February 2020 is indeed when I started my COETAIL journey. I was not quite sure where I was heading to, nor what the program involved.
The Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy (COETAIL) was designed by international educators and consultants Jeff Utecht and Kim Cofino to encourage other educators to learn and reflect on their teaching, pedagogy, and to implement true technology integration. By essence, it also fosters global collaboration, and help participants to develop their PLN.
It is also a rather intense program, that forced me to get out of my comfort zone, and I won’t lie: it was painful at times. The aggravating factor was the start of the pandemic a few weeks later.
But the takeaways are huge: not only it broadened the scope of my knowledge, but it also challenged me to (re)evaluate my practices, both from the pedagogical point of view but also in terms of true and meaningful technology integration.
But the biggest learnings are definitely linked to the continuous exchanges with other educators: the program is constructed on a Cohort model, guided by a Coach (himself a former COETEIL-er obviously) and based on collaboration and exchange among participants, and… the rest of the world thanks to social media such as Twitter.
It was great to get to learn about my #Cohort12 members, who they are, where they teach and where they are from, what are they teaching style and what they tried and tested during the past 15 months. What I valued most were the direct exchanges, either through a blog post comment that they would leave me (see below, with my answer), or that I will write for them.
But there was also some direct conversation when we started to use Twitter private messages, at first mainly to get organized our group work for the Course 2 Final Project.
A the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, in March 2020, I also joined different educator focus groups on Facebook. For example “The Playful Librarian” (now renamed The Hands-on Hive), a place for “library workers and educators to share ideas for play-based learning”. Or Int’l School Library Connection, a group “for educators, particularly school librarians and others who have an interest in School Libraries from all over the globe”.
Keeping in mind all the COETAIL encouragement for collaboration, I started to interact, asking questions or trying to help when I could answer (but didn’t always think to keep evidence).
I joined Twitter at the beginning of the COETAIL program. Until then, I was only using my MHS Library account, posting about some of our events or projects with students. The targeted audience was mainly our own school community.
To be frank, I haven’t been an active Twitter community member (yet?), and I am still too much of a lurker as explained in one of my very first blog posts “To lurk or not to lurk?” published in February 2020.
I would explain this by the following:
– strangely enough, I have issues exposing myself on social media; put me in a room with a small or larger group, and I won’t have difficulties approaching different people even if I don’t know them, talking and mingling.
– what is my validity? There are plenty of people “out there” that are more knowledgeable, and have a voice. I don’t believe my contributions can be meaningful enough to share them.
As an example, when co-#Cohort12 Cindy recently asked a question on Twitter, as I was about to write, I saw that she already got exactly the same answer (so what’s the point in posting the same answer?). This time I forced myself to reply anyway!
Last month Luis organized a #Cohort12 video call with some of us that saw his message and were available to join, depending on our schedules and our time zone as we are spread across the globe. It happened so fast that Luis didn’t have time to prepare an agenda he said, but it was a very natural conversation, as we talked about our jobs, our own, yet shared COETAIL journey, and our final project. It felt great to feel part of the same community.
The COETAIL journey? It is definitely a trip worth taking… and the whole world is now my village. Thank you to all my co-COETAIL-ers that have inspired and encouraged me. Thanks to our Coach Joel for his support.