Create time to Celebrate your teaching/ Crea tiempo para celebrar tu enseñanza

Interview & article with José María Díaz Fuentes, teacher of the year 2020, teacher inspiring STEAM in everything he does, Jose joined our Integrated Currriculum Teaching Global Skills course in Helsinki, August 2019. In this article I invite you to follow this interview as you are part of it, take a piece of paper and first write your own answers & observe your 2020 and allow this article to be a tool for 2020 reflection and 2021 expectations & awarness calendar, as we all celebrate education.

Introduction

Especially now in the pandemic year, when education, health, public services turn upside down, teachers need to find time to celebrate. You clean up the house: leave aside everything you think defined you as you did so many new things you did not consider before. Prototyping ( trying new ideas)is teachers’ driving force but living with contradictions- you can get tired, burn out. What can ensure wellbeing is to clean our agenda: Who am I as a teacher what is the job I am doing?

Especialmente ahora en el año de la pandemia, cuando la educación, la salud y los servicios públicos se ponen patas arriba, los maestros necesitan encontrar tiempo para celebrar. Tú limpias la casa: dejas a un lado todo lo que crees que te definió ya que hiciste tantas cosas nuevas que antes no considerabas. Las construcciones son nuestro momento de combustión, pero al vivir en contradicciones, podemos cansarnos, quemarnos, así que queremos limpiar nuestra agenda: ¿Quién soy yo como maestro? ¿Cuál es el trabajo que estoy haciendo?

Interview with Jose december 2020, thank you for taking time to reflect with us 🙂

Q: Who am I as a teacher?

Jose playing in central Robert’s Cafe Esplanadi Helsinki, August 2019 🙂

Jose: Greetings all from Spain. For 30 years I have been working for the integrated education of my Secondary students – in the best way that I have been learning – trying to connect areas such as Physics, Chemistry, Technology, and Computer Science.

I am an older teacher now but I am well aware that changes are constantly taking place in the world of Education. That is why I am constantly involved in training processes. Lifelong training, so I communicate it to my co-workers and also to my students. Sometimes the changes are desirable and occur with frightful slowness. There is great inertia for true change. Other times the changes are imposed by the political whims of each region and I think that it does not help to advance in the right way.

“Therefore, as my mother says, I am a little ant worker who is taking step after step and patiently building a future.”

Saludos a todos desde España. Desde hace 30 años trabajo por la educación integral de mis alumnos de Secundaria – en la mejor manera que he ido aprendiendo – intentando relacionar áreas como la Física, Química, Tecnología y la Informática. Soy un maestro entrado en años ya pero soy muy consciente de que constantemente se producen cambios en el mundo de la Educación. Es por ello que constantemente estoy involucrado en procesos de formación. Formación a lo largo de toda la vida, así lo comunico a mis compañeros de trabajo y también a mis alumnos. Algunas veces los cambios son deseables y van ocurriendo con una lentitud espantosa. Hay una gran inercia por el verdadero cambio. Otras veces los cambios vienen impuestos por caprichos políticos de cada región y creo que eso no ayuda a avanzar en el buen camino.

Q: What is the job I am doing?

Jose: I work in a concerted school that has about 700 students. It is a school that is guided by the demands of Public Education but with a special character inherited from the Salesian priests. We always know that some facets of this type of education do not like some politicians in my country but we understand that a true Integrated Education must bear signs of belief in some personal feelings.

I have a degree in Physics – in Theoretical Physics – and perhaps what I have said may seem like a contradiction, but from my point of view, integrated education is not at odds with anything.

“We are a school in which we take care of the details from the smallest to the largest courses with a very stable team of teachers who easily agree to achieve common objectives. I assure you that it is not very common to see this in my country.”

Due to my status as a Technology teacher, for many years, I have been working on projects and planning tasks with my students until reaching the final goal. This encouraged me to carry out research projects with my students so that they could exhibit their work at fairs, fairs that at first were unique in our school.

Later, a group of teachers and I managed to encourage all the schools in our city to hold an annual science fair in which we could all learn about the work done in our classrooms.

The next step was to join in other regional and national events. Our students (and also their parents) strongly agree with the initiatives and each year we have many students who want to participate voluntarily even from their free time in the afternoons.

Trabajo en un colegio concertado que tiene unos 700 alumnos. Es un colegio que se rige por las exigencias de la Educación Pública pero con un carácter especial heredado de los sacerdotes salesianos. Ya sabemos que algunas facetas de este tipo de educación no les gusta a algunos políticos de mi país pero entendemos que una verdadera educación Integral debe llevar signos de creencia en sentimientos personales.
Soy licenciado en Física – en Física Teórica – y quizás lo que he dicho pueda parecer una contradicción pero desde mi punto de vista, la educación integral no está reñida con nada.
Somos un colegio en el que cuidamos los detalles desde los cursos más pequeños hasta los mayores con un equipo de profesores muy estable y que se pone de acuerdo con facilidad para lograr objetivos comunes. No es muy corriente ver esto en mi país, os lo aseguro.
Debido a mi condición de profesor de Tecnología, desde hace muchos años, trabajo por proyectos y planifico con mis alumnos las tareas hasta alcanzar el objetivo final. Esto me animó a realizar proyectos de investigación con mis alumnos de manera que pudieran exponer sus trabajos en ferias, al principio, propias de nuestro colegio.
Más tarde, un grupo de profesores y yo conseguimos animar a todos los centros de nuestra ciudad a realizar una feria de la ciencia anual en la que todos pudiéramos conocer los trabajos realizados en nuestras aulas.
El siguiente paso fue incorporarnos a otros eventos regionales y nacionales y nuestros alumnos (y sus padres) están muy de acuerdo con las iniciativas y cada año tenemos muchos alumnos que desean participar de forma voluntaria aunque sea desdde su tiempo libre por las tardes.

Q: What are the things, I gave up/ I let them “ die” in 2020 as they no longer served me for my future teaching?

We have always believed that attendance at face-to-face classes was enough to clarify doubts and secure concepts but students need continuous feedback from their teachers. During this pandemic year, it has been necessary to establish personal communication with each student on many occasions. It has been hard work that has required many hours of being in front of the computer but I have understood that personal dialogue is fundamental.

On the other hand, we have all been forced to create digital content but it is more than that, our content must be understandable, attractive, and of quality. We often have to do remastering to get closer to the students and thus better achieve the objectives.

“We must abandon many classical techniques and open doors to more interactive and creative ones on the part of us, education professionals.”

Los alumnos necesitan tener un continuo feedback por parte de sus profesores. Siempre hemos creído que era suficiente la asistencia a clase presencial para aclarar dudas y asegurar conceptos. Durante este año de pandemia ha sido necesario establecer una comunicación personal con cada alumno en muchas ocasiones. Ha sido un trabajo que ha necesitado muchas horas de estar delante del ordenador pero he comprendido que el diálogo personal es algo fundamental. Todos nos hemos visto obligados a crear contenidos digitales pero más que eso, es necesario que nuestros contenidos sean comprensibles, atractivos y de calidad. Con frecuencia tenemos que hacer remasterizaciones para acercarnos más a los alumnos y conseguir mejor los objetivos.

Global Skills Course, finding an old piano in the class somwhere in the back and a student ready to play together ” Heart & Soul”:) Jose, August 2019, Varia Vocational College, Vantaa

Q: What do I need (resources, people) to generate around me so I get all the help I need to continue with my work?

Jose: For the past three months, we have been experimenting with a hybrid way of teaching: students come to school every other day, and those who stay home receive assignments online. The big advantage is the number of students in each class. In normal situations, we have 30 students, and now, working with half, allows more interaction between all of us.

The drawback is the duplication of work times because we have morning and afternoon schedules in addition to those necessary to prepare materials online. Obviously, the need is logical: we need more teachers to be able to carry out all this. But it is a problem that the administrations will not solve for us. The administrations dictate rules and we, the teachers, do what we can.

Durante estos tres últimos meses hemos estado experimentando una forma híbrida de dar clase: los alumnos vienen al colegio días alternos y los que se quedan en casa reciben tareas online. La gran ventaja es el número de alumnos en cada clase. En situaciones normales tenemos 30 alumnos y trabajar con la mitad permite más interacción entre todos nosotros. El inconveniente es la duplicación de tiempos de trabajo porque tenemos así horario de mañan y tarde además de preparar materiales online. Obviamente la necesidad es lógica: necesitamos más profesores para poder llevar todo esto a cabo. Pero es un problema que no nos van a resolver desde las administraciones. Las administraciones dictan normas y nosotros, los profesores, hacemos lo que podemos.

Q: What is one thing I can ask for myself for 2021 for my community, for my students, and leaves me smiling?

visiting with Integrated Curriculum Teaching Global Skills Course the new math class environment in Havukoski school, to accomodate teaching outside up to 80 students at once with 2-3 math teachers

Jose: It is not easy to answer that question because in our school we have many open battlefronts. We are a special school with special needs in which various institutions constantly pressure us. Bureaucracy, on the one hand, visibility and propaganda because our existence depends on the demand of parents who want to bring their children to our school, special educational needs for which we do not have enough personal means, and the constant threat of closing classrooms by the administration.
I am optimistic, so far and from my experience, we have survived 30 years. However unknown winds blow in our country …

It is as simple as ensuring a global pact for education in our country. We’ve been asking for it for decades and investment in significant teaching staff. I hope that one day the Education of our young citizens will be the most important thing in my country.

No es fácil contestar a esa pregunta porque en nuestro colegio tenemos muchos frentes de batalla abiertos. Somos un colegio especial con especiales problemas en el que varias instituciones nos presionan de forma constante. Burocracia de una parte, visibilidad y propaganda porque nuestra existencia depende de la demanda de padres que desean traer a sus hijo a nuestro colegio, necesidades educativas especiales para las que no tenemos suficientes medios y la amenaza constante de cerrarnos aulas por parte de la administración… Soy optimista, hasta el momento y desde mi experiencia, hemos sobrevivido 30 años. No obstante soplan vientos desconocidos en nuestro país…

Es tan sencillo como asegurar un pacto global para la educación en nuestro país. Llevamos pidiéndolo decadas y una inversión en personal docente importante. Espero que algún día la Educación de nuestros jóvenes ciudadanos sea importante.

Q: 5 things I celebrate for the 2020 year of education

August 2019, Integrated Curriculum Teaching Global Skills teachers that are shaping how training for teachers should be like, multiculturality has always proved to be an acceleration factor, we feel grateful & connected to all teachers in these programs

Jose: I think it happens to all of us. From my first days of class, I already thought about showing my students all those things that made me fall in love with science. But it is not an easy task: the fuse that lights that love is not clear how it is lit.

I have tried a thousand times without knowing the results because our students leave our school at 16 years old. Sometimes the old students write to us or greet us with words of thanks and that comforts all the teachers.

Lately, I have received hundreds and hundreds of expressions of affection from students, parents, and even other professionals of education.

I must be grateful for the opportunity I had about six years ago to open up to the international field through the Scientix community. My appointment as Scientix ambassador was a mockery for some – I have to say – but I am very proud of the work done in that environment and for the help received by many European teachers. Working with Scientix has made me grow and learn a large number of educational techniques consistent with the 21st century.

I also appreciate the lifelong learning opportunities that Schoolnet Academy and School Education Gateway provide. I think I have attended about 35 training courses, making lesson plans for each of them and constructively assessing the work of European colleagues. I must also emphasize my commitment to learning the English language so that I can perform better in these tasks. It’s not easy for me at my age because I only studied French when I was young. Today I hardly even recognize myself: You know me, I´m very shy about that but you can see that I’m talking here!

I can’t forget the Euneos course last year I was with you. My adventure began at the airport when my suitcase was held to search inside. Me alone in Helsinki explaining my plans to the police. Oh my God! And the official languages of all places were Finnish and Swedish. But it was time to learn and see the successes of education in Finland. These are memories and learnings that I will never forget and that has marked my performance during this last year.

The two trips to CERN in Geneva (2017 and 2018) have also marked my life to learn the didactics of fundamental particle physics and to be able to teach my students the most important advances in this matter. My 21-day stay at the International High School Teacher program helped me make new friends from all over the world and led me to experience new successful projects with my students.

I appreciate the good luck within my family for the minor consequences that occurred in this COVID-19. We are all safe even my mother who is old. It is a blessing for her that everything has gone well and it is a joy and an honor for me that she can hear all this that we are talking about today.

Recently, I´ve received the AKS Global Teacher Award 2020, which is a great honor for me, but from the first moment I heard the news, I have thanked everyone around me that it happened – everyone who are near me and all who are thousands of miles away.

Creo que nos sucede a todos. Desde mis primeros días de clase ya pensaba en mostrar a mis alumnos todas aquellas cosas hicieron que yo me enamorara de las ciencias. Pero no es tarea fácil: la chispa que enciende ese amor no está claro cómo se enciende. Lo he intentado mil veces sin saber bien los resultados porque nuestros alumnos dejan nuestro colegio a los 16 años. Algunas veces los antiguos alumnos nos escriben o nos saludan con palabras de agradecimiento y eso nos reconforta a todos los profesores. Últimamente he recibido cientos y cientos de muestras de cariño por parte de los alumnos, los padres y hasta otros profesionales de la educación.

Debo agradecer la oportunidad que tuve hace unos seis años de abrirme al ámbito internacional a través de la comunidad Scientix. Mi nombramiento como embajador Scientix fue para algunos un motivo de burla – he de decirlo – pero estoy muy orgulloso del trabajo realizado en ese entorno y de la ayuda recibida por muchos profesores europeos.

También agradezco las oportunidades de formación a lo largo de toda la vida que me da la Schoolnet Academy y la School Education Gateway. Creo que he asistido a unos 35 cursos de formación, realizando planes de lecciones para cada uno de ellos, evaluando de forma constructiva el trabajo de compañeros europeos. A ello también le debo mi implicación en el aprendizaje del idioma Inglés. No es fácil para mí a mi edad y habiendo estudiado sólo Francés cuando era joven. Hoy casi ni me reconozco en este sentido: ¡Estoy hablando aquí!

No puedo olvidar el curso de euneos del año pasado en el que estuve contigo. Mi aventura comenzó en el aeropuerto cuando me retuvieron la maleta para registrar su interior. Yo solo en Helsinki explicando mis planes a la policía. Oh my God! Y los idiomas oficiales de todos los lugares eran el Finés y el Danés. Pero era hora de aprender y ver los aciertos de la educación en Finlandia. Son recuerdos y aprendizajes que no olvidaré nunca y que han marcado mi actuación durante este último año.

Han marcado mi vida también las dos viajes al CERN a Ginebra (2017 y 2018) para aprender didáctica de la física de partículas fundamentales y poder enseñar a mis alumnos los avances más importantes en esta materia. Mi estancia durante 21 días en el International High School Teacher program me ayudó a hacer nuevos amigos de todo el mundo y a experimentar nuevos proyectos de exito con mis alumnos.

Agradezco la buena suerte dentro de mi familia por las consecuencias leves ocurridas en este COVID-19. Todos estamos a salvo incluso mi madre que tiene una avanzada edad. Es para ella una bendición que todo haya ido bien y es para mí una alegría y un honor que pueda escuchar todo esto que estamos hablando hoy.

Haber recibido estos días atrás el Global Teacher Award de AKS es un gran honor para mí pero, desde el primer momento en el que supe la noticia, he agradecido a todos las personas que me rodean que haya sucedido así – a todos los que se encuentran cerca y todos los que están miles de kilómetros más lejos.

Concluding the article

Oodi Library in Helsinki, Best LIbrary in the World Prize, a library that is inside an inspiring space for all to live in peace, and also outside, photo from August 2019

There is time to stay and wait, there is time to act, time to be greateful & appreciate the life, family, and the community around you. It is also a fine & beautiful balance between being in the battle with what you feel & know it is not just in society around you (inequalities, poor policies, racism, poverty) and also finding love acceptace & continue your job as a teacher, allowing both to co-exist for you without taking a toll on wellbeing. This balance, can be the esence of 2021 social capital for teachers allow them to prospere, to teach with wellbeing, and inspire the rest of us. I have seen this amazing balance (of feeling both ungry with the “system” but continuing their intervention with love & compassion with Romanian, Spanish, German, Finnish, Swedish, Bulgarian and teacher from all over the countries, they have inspired my work & courses during this year, thank you!

References for the concluding part:

Fullan M: Indelible Leadership: Always Leave Them Learning, CA: Corwin Impact Leadership Series, 2017

Arawana Hayashi: Embodied Presence: The Art of Making a True Move, 2021, Presencing Institute, MIT

Kelvy Bird: On Scribing: A Social Art of the 21st Century, 2018

The Beloved Community: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Prescription for a Healthy Society, Jeff Ritterman, MD, Contributor, Huffpost, 2017

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