This article shares how effective collaboration at an IB in-school workshop benefited workshop leaders, participants and the school community.
We originally met each other at our PYP workshop leader training in Istanbul and then started exchanging emails about resource suggestions.
Like every IB workshop, the next step of our journey started at IB Educators Network (IBEN) Central, the portal where we apply to lead workshops. Whenever a leader applies for an assignment, they are advised who their co-leader will be. We were assigned to co-lead a workshop in April 2016. Neither of us had experience with co-leading a workshop, so it was quite a risk-taking situation that required open-mindedness, respect and tolerance.
In January we started collaborating for the April workshop: emails and a few Skype chats throughout the preparation phase, but most of the work was done online, asynchronously. The school information form and emails from the school PYP Coordinator were very useful.
The workshop was to be held in Turkish, meaning we had to translate and/or create workshop resources in our mother tongue. We contacted IBEN colleagues who generously shared their resources and did some translation ourselves.
Elif had worked in English international schools throughout her career and had never led a PYP workshop in Turkish. Selda has led Turkish language workshops, had translation experience as well as experience in embedding the national curriculum within the PYP framework.
Elif, an arts and ICT expert, took on creating online collaboration tools (OCT) for the workshop. Having had used some OCT beforehand, Selda’s repertoire expanded greatly through our collaboration.
We used Google applications for our documentation: Google drive for storing documents, workbook, resources and media files; Google slides for our final presentation; and Google forms for surveys for our participants. Through February and March, we added videos and other resources we found online and created subtitles in Turkish for videos that had CC permission for translation. We also created a digital board (via Padlet) to be used as a cork-board for questions and an online quiz application (Kahoot) to assess participants’ understanding.
When we met face to face, the day before the workshop, we had a shared feeling of having worked together for a long time. The conversations and comfortable, relaxed atmosphere of being prepared for the workshop allowed us to customize the next two days in the light of the participants’ survey responses. Selda’s knowledge and experience in running workshops boosted Elif’s confidence. This shared attitude and understanding continued throughout the workshop and set a welcoming stage for the participants. The reflection of friendliness and comfort was easily felt within the group. This led to productive discussions and deeper understandings of the content.
During the workshop, we asked the participants to log in to the Online Curriculum Centre (OCC) to view and use some resources, such as sample unit of inquiry plans, and also invited them to post reflective pieces on the OCC PYP forum and the workshop website reflection pages. These reflection pages not only helped us to review the understanding of the participants but also gave us an opportunity to take note of their “visible” thoughts.
We used two laptops and two projectors in the workshop venue, keeping the presentation slides on one, and a Twitter back-chat screen on the other, introducing the participants to some related hashtags on Twitter, such as #pypchat.
Throughout the two days, we took turns leading the sessions in an impromptu way. As we had collaborated during the workshop preparation, a quick chat during the breaks allowed for smooth adjustments to our plans. With 35 participants spread around 6 tables, we modeled concurrent “team-teaching”, taking turns to speak and at times actually completing each other’s sentences, walking around the tables to support the individual and group learning engagements. Between the two of us, we had significant PYP knowledge and experiences to share with the participants.
The multi-purpose room quickly turned into a colorful space. All the walls were full of reflection pieces created by the participants. We used visible thinking routines such as “Connect, Extend, Challenge” to help the participants “see” their individual and collective thought process. Gallery walks were one of the highlights of the workshop.
It was not magic, luck or coincidence, but the hard work, humility, open-mindedness, tolerance, respect, dedication, and effective use of tools and resources by the workshop leaders along with the openness of participants that made this wonderful collaboration happen.
Selda Mansur is an IB Educator Network (IBEN) member and serves the IB community as PYP consultant, Workshop Leader and Online Workshop Facilitator. She also serves schools and universities as an independent Educational Project Management and Accreditation Consultant. She is based in Istanbul, Turkey. She has previous experience as English Language and Literature teacher, course coordinator, curriculum writer and coordinator, IBPYP accreditation coordinator, teacher trainer, school vice-principal and school principal, at K-12 and university levels in Turkey, Cyprus and Jordan. She is especially interested in sharing and developing her knowledge and experience in shared pedagogical leadership and good governance through project management approach in school and university settings. You can follow her on Twitter @seldamansur.
Elif Raskin is a bilingual PYP Workshop Leader and runs workshops around the world in IB schools. She is also an experienced Technology Coach and worked in Turkey, Japan and Tanzania. Currently living and working in Switzerland as an Art and Design teacher. She is the organizer of the first Makerfaire in Switzerland and consults schools in implementing maker culture into their curriculum. You can follow her on Twitter @aleaf.