Why #etmooc? My path to educational change

Why I am taking #etmooc?

I am dedicated to changing the way we learn, the way we teach in k12 and ultimately the way we “see” learning. I promote creativity above anything else and I see an education system where every learner is engaged and passionate and positive about learning.

To get there – we need to think about learning differently.

I have had the opportunity to hang out in Mexico. I have spent more time online and sitting on the computer than in the gym in months. As a result, getting into a swimsuit and tanning was a little scary for me. Kind of like some people see technology? But it is hot and sunny in Mexico, and you would overheat if you dressed like it was time to ski, like in Canada.

In Mexico I have started to take Zumba classes. They are taught by an amazing teacher named Stephani. She spent the last year in New York trying to make it on Broadway, but has decided to come back to Mexico to spend more time with her family. Needless to say, she is an “expert” in her field, and I am in her class.

steph 1

Stephani – Club Med Ixtapa – Zumba Queen…

What makes her an amazing teacher?

She has a variety of different levels in her class, and we all think that we are Zumba princesses. Luckily Stephani’s class in Mexico, so none of you saw me Zumba, other than my family. If you did, you would not say that I was an advanced student, or “gifted” or had any special skills. In fact, you would see my red face and probably think I needed some water as soon as possible. But in Stephani’s class – I am a Zumba princess.

I was in the middle of some mumba move today and wondered why I was having so much fun? I could tell that I was having difficulty, that I am not the best in the class, that I miss moves and need to constantly watch Stephani to figure out where we are. Dancing does not come easily to me and I know that there are others who are doing a better job. Yet I still see myself as a, “Zumba Princess”.

Stephani makes me feel like a Zumba princess because she creates relationships with every person in the class – even if we are only here on vacation for a week. She is passionate about her “expertise” and she loves what she does. Her love of dance (and Zumba) is apparent in her class, and in her smile. She connects with me, and her connection has made me feel human – like no matter how “bad” I may look to others, I am a Zumba princess in my mind – as long as I try.

From an instructional design point of view, Stephani ensures that we know the basic moves before we start a dance, we start out slow and get faster, we have some repetitive songs as well as some new ones each day and she always leads the group and shouts instructions as we go along. She consistently asks us, “How are you doing?” and she always tells us to, “Drink Water!”

I never hear her complain about the fact that she is constantly getting a class of new learners who are all at different levels and that they are always lost. Instead I see a leader who sees an opportunity to share her love of dance. When I asked her about New York, she says, “What an experience! Now I can bring back what I have learned and share it with you!”

In this “new world” where I consistently hear people speak about the fear of “computers taking over the role of teachers” – Stephani proves to me that teachers are essential to learning in any world. They motivate, encourage and build essential relationships to help their students learn.

I am a passionate edtech teacher devoted to changing the learning paradigm, and it’s teachers like Stephani who remind me why I am taking #etmooc.

1) Learning is about getting off your butt, and trying. Trying for the sake of trying and being proud of your accomplishments.

2) Learning is about accepting that we are all different – and it’s ok to learn in your own way.

3) Learning is about going into the day with a positive attitude and accepting yourself for who you are.

4) Learning is about being vulnerable and taking risks and not worrying about what other people think.

5) Learning is about depending on other people and collaborating and connecting  to learn more.

6) Learning is happening everywhere and it is up to you as an individual to find it!

7) Teachers learn with you and inspire you to do your best. They develop relationships and connections to encourage a network of learning.

I thank Stephani for encouraging me to get off my butt – and I hope that other learners will learn with me in #etmooc as we take risks, try be creative and promote vulnerability together!

That’s what I’m here for…

Verena 🙂

16 thoughts on “Why #etmooc? My path to educational change

  1. Claire Thompson

    I love your list of reasons for signing up for #etmooc! And your description of being a ‘Zumba Princess’ is wonderful. There is nothing finer than being a student in a class where the learning is that enjoyable. I hope that you feel like an #etmoocprincess as you take the course. In fact, I hope that I do too 🙂

  2. Jaap

    I like the way you make learning central in your post, unlike some others who make teaching their central point of focus.
    Dancing is pleasure, only fools do dance to proof themselves. Have a nice Mooc.

  3. Al Smith

    Terrific ideas! I really grabbed onto two features. Not to worry what others think and that learning is happening everywhere and you must find it….all of them encompass personalizing and collaborating. It’s really about connecting. Whether half around the world with this ETMOOC or face to face with your colleague at lunch, learning is about people just like Socrates said … It’s a human experience.

  4. Emilia Carrillo

    Hola Verena!

    Loved your post! I especially liked the way you explain that we might have other ‘fears’ in life which we encounter gracefully, so why not face up to the new teaching/learning changes and challenges.

    I am not in my home country either. I am teaching Spanish in Uganda and trying hard to keep on with my technology use and getting myself and my students off our butts to make a difference. It is challenging sometimes, as we face tech issues and difficulties.

    Please keep on sharing your #ETMOOC experience. We learn a lot from you on Twitter and so I can’t wait to start devouring your #ETMOOC posts.

    Gracias por compartir!

  5. Carolyn Durley

    I love how you wove learning into a personal story Verena. What a lovely sentiment to imagine every student feeling like a Princess or Prince 🙂
    Great reasons and description of why #etmooc. I especially LOVE #5 Learning is about depending on other people and collaborating and connecting to learn more. I think in school especially HS, we have pretended for so long that the learning is all about the individual. I think we have really set Ss up for failure with this mindset that I hope we change very soon!


  6. admin Post author

    Thank you Claire – we can all be Mumba Princesses. It’s all about finding your “zone”…. Looking forward to learning with you!
    Verena 🙂

  7. Vanessa Vaile

    Your post highlights important lessons to take from new learning experiences: 1) to experiencing for ourselves, the good the bad and the ugly, what our students experience (confusion, frustration, connection, isolation, exhilaration… the gamut), 2) that everyone learns differently, and 3) to keep dancing

  8. admin Post author

    Hi Jaap-
    I hope that we all transition from “educators” to learners. Being the guide on the side not really what I am thinking…I genuinely mean learning with everyone and being part of the process. I totally agree it is about letting your inner spirit shine through – having the confidence to learn for the sake of learning!
    Speaking of dancing…
    Have you seen this video? I love it….
    Thanks for the reply!
    Verena 🙂

  9. admin Post author

    Hi Al!
    You captured the exact two ideas I wanted you capture!
    Be vulnerable – take risks – It’s YOUR learning!
    Where is the learning happening in your world?

    Bringing the human back to the tech world….technology isn’t destroying education – it is bridging possibilities to finding new ways to learn and connect!
    Thanks for the reply!
    Verena 🙂

  10. admin Post author

    Teaching Spanish in Uganda! Wow! I don’t speak Spanish – but I could “feel” my inner Spanish side as a Zumba princess….

    Sounds like you are a risk taker! Keep up the great work and tell us about how you are “finding” new learning….
    Thanks for the reply!
    Verena 🙂

  11. admin Post author

    Hi Carolyn!
    The “best” learning happened for me – when my teachers were themselves – when they were silly – but most importantly really learned with me. There is a difference – and that’s what I want to “see” in education today 🙂

    I wouldn’t be able to really “be myself” without #5 – Finding my tribe online, and knowing that there are others out there – has given me the confidence to take risks, be vulnerable and speak out.

    I have to give credit to George Couros about the personal story bit. He is adamant that to really connect, we have to connect to real stories. He is a great story teller. What I think he was trying to tell me though, was that others can understand me – can connect to with my ideas – if there is a story that they can follow. The story helps everyone learn and ensures that I am explaining myself well. So kudos to George 🙂 @gcouros

    Thanks for the reply – See you soon!
    Verena 🙂

  12. admin Post author

    Exactly! We have to all learn together to really “experience” what the process is all about. I am not a dancer…but I have to keep dancing…to feel like a Zumba princess 🙂
    Thanks for the reply – and all your support Vanessa!
    Verena 🙂

  13. Heather Davis

    Wow, what a wonderful post told in such an amazing. I wanted to shout out “preach it sister”. My father was a minister so maybe that comes naturally.

  14. Maggie Powers

    Thanks for this thought provoking post! I love the connection to Zumba and your experience in a new class. I think that’s a piece that can be easily lost as educators – the challenge, excitement, and overall experience of being new to learning something. The focus on connections, relationships, and people also seems very key and I appreciate how they appear multiple times in your reasons for taking #etmooc.

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