Filling the World Around You with Empathy – The Course 2 Final Project

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Here is our COETAIL Cohort#12 Course#2 Final Project! “Our” and not mine as we were able to apply what we have been reading, learning, writing, and reflecting about these past six weeks: becoming contributors and collaborators. We gathered to work together and bring our own insight to a common project, encouraged by our extra- supportive COETAIL coach Joel!
The members of our team are SimonaJulija, Mooney,  Luis Carlos, and myself, Christel. We have different nationalities and live in different parts of the world, two of us in their own country, while others moved far away. We came together with a common goal that we had to define: create a collection of helpful resources on #kindness and #empathy for other teachers around the world to use. As our team consists of 5 participants, we came up with the title Hi 5! Resources.
Empathy, the ability to understand and share other people’s feelings is so important and even more needed during these troubled times of the coronavirus pandemic and its aftermath, but also one important component of the COETAIL program.

The project relates to the following ISTE standard for Educators: 
3.a. Create experiences for learners to make positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behavior online that builds relationships and community.

How did you find your group for this project?

I wasn’t sure how to approach other participants; I only knew a little about them through their short introduction and read some of their blog posts… As I was running late in the program, I didn’t feel confident to contact them ; at some point, Joel suggested I could contact Luis. After exchanging some emails, getting to know each other, and sharing our work experiences, we felt we could come up with a common project. Some other people then contacted us as they were also looking to collaborate, and we moved on to another type of project.

How did the collaboration aspect of this project go?

I think it needed some adjustments at the start because of structural challenges, but everyone was willing to make it work and we developed a real sense of community, helping, supporting, and encouraging each other! I loved it!

What challenges did you face? How did you overcome them?

The main challenge was to identify something we could all contribute to equally: our profiles and areas of expertise are indeed quite different. Once we found an “umbrella” project (we each could create a specific piece, that will be part of common theme and goal), things fell in place easily. Secondly, we were at a different stage of the course, some of us needed to catch up with the last blog posts, while others were on track.
We also needed to find the best way to communicate: first, it was via email, however, we had our final group composition, it was clear that Twitter Chat would be more efficient and easier to follow. I regret we couldn’t set a video call but we live in different zone times with the following countries: Lithuania, Panama, Russia, South Korea, and Belgium…
What I have truly enjoyed is getting to know my team members! Of course, I only know them from our online written interactions, and a small picture, but we were together on the same boat, working towards the same goal, helping and encouraging each other. That was such a great feeling that I am looking forward to continue working on the COETAIL program next school year, getting to know my four new colleagues better, and meeting the others too!

How was this collaborative planning experience different from or similar to other planning experiences?

This was quite different as I usually collaborate with my library team (our Head Librarian, the library-assistant, and myself), or with classroom teachers to develop collaboration projects. It was the first time I collaborated remotely with people I never met and it was really interesting and enriching.

Why did you choose this option? These standards?

I wanted to work on something I will be able to use next school year, and as we developed this project, I immediately saw the potential for me creating a unit on Empathy for my current grade 7 Personal Learning group students that I co-teach with a colleague.

How does this experience relate to what you learned in Course 2?

This final project of COETAIL Course#2 relates to basically all the units we worked on: it gave me the feeling to be taken by the hand (interesting course content provided in such an organized way), encouraged (our coach), inspired to do our first steps with the hand nearby (writing our blog posts), to finally walk the first toddler steps (the final project). I am not ready to run yet, but I now enjoy the world around me from a standing position. I feel I am becoming a COETAIL-er <3

If you facilitated this experience, how did the learners respond to it? What feedback did you collect to inform future experiences?

It hasn’t been the case yet, but I am planning to use it at the beginning of next school year with the group of Middle Schoolers that I co-teach for Personal Learning; they are now in grade 7, and will be in grade 8 exactly like the students who created the video below! After being on Distance Learning for a few months, working together on being empathic to each other, caring, and supportive will be a great asset I think.

Empathy Can Change the World: spread it!
This video was dreamed up, scripted, and acted out by some amazing 8th-grade students from Kalispell Middle School. The vision was to create a thought-provoking short film that instills a challenge to the viewer to look at their own life, their own relationships, and their own sphere of influence, and see where a little empathy could help change the world around them.