Separated by over 6,000 miles, technology has allowed today’s educators to break from the norm and extend their sights beyond their classroom walls. That connectivity can bring about important relationships for both teachers and pupils.
Mr. David Obianyor, a Primary/Class 4 Numeracy teacher is a fervent user of a web educational platform called ClassDojo, which is similar to Facebook but designed for school use. He belongs to a ClassDojo school mentor Facebook group where he met fellow teacher Mrs. Stacy Weber. They were far apart or a button-click away, depending on how you choose to look at it.
Mrs. Stacy Weber teaches at Westwood Elementary School, in Illinois, USA and had seen some pictures Mr. Obianyor had been posting about a project he and his colleague , Miss. Idara Umosen had undertaken to refurbish an underprivileged school in the neighbourhood and so she offered to help raise some funds through a GoFundMe in the United States, and also donate some items for the dilapidated neighbourhood school.
While the children from the neighbourhood school will benefit from the generosity of the three parties involved, an interesting side benefit emerged as Mr. Obianyor and Mrs. Weber’s classrooms began video chatting via Flipgrid and learning about their very different cultures and learning styles. They have already learnt one thing they both have in common – English language.
Corona teachers have found a novel world opened up for their pupils through ClassDojo and they are always finding new ways to explore its potential.
The friendship between Corona School and Westwood students is still in the incipient stages, but the pupils have already began exchanging pleasantries and asking questions. While Corona School’s pupils are fascinated by the Westwood students’ Spanish and English dual language education, Westwood students are curious whether giraffes walk around Nigeria and if tacos are available.
“I heard my pupils talking about how fantastic it would be to have learned for half the day in a foreign language and the other half in English,” Mr. Obianyor said. “The takeaway from that experience was that you no longer have to be in close proximity to show kindness, exchange ideas and share cultures.”
Mrs. Weber said the video chats are also a big hit with her Westwood students. “ Their faces light up every time we see a new video from our friends in Nigeria,” she said. “In one video, the students came up with the perfect sentence to share: ‘We are happy and lucky to help.’ I couldn’t agree more”
Mr. Obianyor and Mrs. Weber said they are excited about continuing these conversations and that all the children look forward to learning more about each other’s cultures and educational systems.
Being a part of the ClassDojo Mentors Community made all these connections and created relationships that expand the horizons of both teachers and pupils.