RDFZ Xishan International Summit. It was a life changing experience connecting and learning from innovative educators from across the globe. RDFZ Xishan is an amazing school that is leading education innovation in China and being held as a model for schools across the world. You can learn more by watching the video and reading the profile that Apple showcased on their education website (http://www.apple.com/education/profiles/rdfz/). We were blown away by the inspiring leadership of Principal Shu, his dedicated faculty and staff, and the school philosophy of creating students who are "Global Citizens with a Chinese Heart."
I didn't know it at the time, but my journey across the world started a couple of years ago when I made the conscious decision to center my professional growth and curriculum development around the theme of collaboration. Because of my experience as a middle school teacher and working on teams, I already knew the benefits that working together can bring. The best designed projects, ideas, and creative solutions have always come as a result of collaboration. Although it is not something measured on standardized tests, collaboration is a vital skill that our students need as they enter a global work place. This belief is what led me to expand my PLN and work toward creating opportunities for my students to connect and collaborate across the globe.
In 2011, our team was transformed by the CBL framework. We were fortunate to be selected to be a part of the Apple CBL Implementation project. We saw how CBL made a difference for our students in solving real-world problems and developing their critical thinking skills. CBL truly changed the way we approached teaching and learning.
We were brought together with RDFZ Xishan in the fall of 2011 when they were initially implementing CBL with a group of their students. Raja Marwah took on the challenge of learning about CBL and leading the students at RDFZ Xishan through the process. Their students excelled and two of their challenge groups were selected by Apple to take part in their leadership summit in Geneva.
We continued our collaboration and friendship by inviting the students at RDFZ Xishan to participate in our Building Global Community CBL project in May 2012. It was a highlight of our year and a great way to showcase the power of collaboration and importance of sustaining global friendships for both the teachers and students at our school. We were also fortunate to meet the amazing team from RDFZ Xishan when a few of them visited Hawai'i this past summer.
We never would have thought that our journey would lead us all the way to Beijing. I have been blessed to have many opportunities in my career as an educator, but I never imagined that going to China would be one of them. RDFZ Xishan graciously extended an invitation for 4 people from our school to attend their summit. One of the highlights was co-presenting CBL with Raja and coming full circle to learn from his experience and talk to the students who participated in CBL. We were overwhelmed by their hospitality and kindness and inspired by everyone that we met, including their wonderful students.
I hope that my experience will inspire you to continue to extend your PLN, create collaborative opportunities for your students, and to explore CBL...after all, you never know where your journey may take you.