Great teachers are the same all over the world. They are reflective and curious, seeking out what’s best for their students and schools. They are interested in connecting with other teachers to discuss ideas and seek out best practices. Great teachers are dynamic learners, able to visualize how they can apply practices and innovations from other schools can to increase student success. Many of the discussions I had in these cities were similar to ones I have with my colleagues at Innisfail Junior Senior High Schoolin small-town Alberta, even though they had more investment in infrastructure, and there were Apple computers and devices as far as they eye could see.
For the past week I have been participating in the 21st Century Learning Conference, which took place at Hong Kong International School’s beautiful harbour side k-12 campus. Classes in the middle school spanned several open corridors that flanked an outside audotorium with views of Stabley Harbour. I also toured private, International Schools in Hong Kong and Macau, wandered the campus of the Macau University of Science and Technology, and watched my sister-in-law teach her sixth grade class at TIS.
I was able to learn and hang out with teachers from all over the world, especially South East Asia. The Twitter back-channel from the conference, #21clhk, highlighted key learning, shared links and tools, and stitched ideas together in the same way I have seen happen at conferences in Canada; although I didn’t see anyone Tweet while presenting like @gcouros. Discussions (face to face and virtual) suggested tools, compared experiences to improve their teaching practice.
I am still ruminating about the sessions I attended and the tools and strategies that I learned that I will bring back to my classroom but the strongest impression I got over the past few days is how similar great teachers are, no matter where they are or what languages their students speak.