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Whos In

I just had the pleasure and privilege of working with the faculty and staff of a fine school in Central America, Academia Interamericana de Panama (AIP). We were together for a full day, as the first introduction of the CGC Learning Ecosystem to the school. When I say ‘we’, I mean a fully inclusive ‘we’. Not ‘just’ the teachers and assistant/co-teachers, but all employees: HR, maintenance, catering, the tech team…everybody. (Parents and learners join the process later).

The ‘everybody’ included a fair number of professionals for whom English was not a first, or a strong, language, so the school hired an outstanding team of simultaneous translators. It also included, obviously, a large number of people who were not educators as such, but who were professionals in the learning business and very much part of the school’s learning community.

I’ll confess to some pondering in the wee hours. This was a big group, with 175 participants, and there would clearly have to be some substantial adjustments . One example was a very active opening experience where people move to music, pair up when it stops and discuss a question that we present. For AIP, the shifts were:

From: Why teach? To: Why work at AIP?

From: Why should anyone be taught by me? To: What do I bring to AIP?

From: Teaching towards what? To: Working towards what?

All new for me, so I was definitely heading into fresh workshop territory. No need to have worried. The response was wonderful, with engaged professionals from different career paths talking in animated pairs about things they truly cared about. I actually liked the whole thing a lot more than the original plan.

The enthusiasm and energy was sustained all day. It was challenging, rewarding and, for AIP, highly productive. One example of that was the development of a first draft of a set of Learning Principles for the school. As usual in this work, we began by everyone recalling a ‘learning story’, a defining event in their own learning life, usually from their school days, that shaped the way they viewed themselves as a learner…for better or worse. You don’t need to be a teacher to have learning stories, so everybody drew their scenario, with their non-dominant hand, then told their story in small teams. Each story then generated a message..’ From my story we should always remember that….’. We then used an Affinity Wall exercise to cluster the messages into embryonic Principles. In the attached photo you’ll see the proud waving of the messages.

Hats off to AIP for including everyone in this culture-building professional learning experience. For me, it was a personal push to remember that all learning takes place in connected contexts, and to have a chance to live, in practice, the CCG Mission, ‘Everybody Learns’.