This has truly been the most diverse, the most international group I have ever been a part of. The Teacher’s College at Columbia is huge, and is diverse, but this takes diversity to an entirely different level. It is almost like being in the tower of Babel, with a multitude of different languages being spoken at once. Tonight I had dinner with two teachers from Switzerland, neither of whom spoke English, but we somehow made it work between their attempts at English and my paltry attempts at French. Many of us teach young children, but the expectations differ from country to country. We visited a school for young children (much younger than our Kindergarten children) and were impressed by the work they were doing, using many natural materials in their construction. We also were able to see the ways in which they used technology in the classrooms, giving webcams to the children so that they were able to gain a new perspective of their own work, They then were able to look at their constructions from a different angle, and were able to collaborate with their friends as to ways in which their work could be tweaked.
The most amazing thing so far has been the passion that all of these educators feel about the learning of young children, and in their willingness to travel so far, battle language differences, and sit around the table discussing education in ways that are transformative. Everyone is eager to share their country, their classrooms, and the ways in which we can make learning more connective for the children we love so dearly.
It has been a very long day, but tomorrow will be filled with more excitement as we visit kindergarten classrooms. More tomorrow!