As a Lebanese educator, I worked hard to participate in this event since, in my view, it is “THE” place for educators to connect with their peers, relish fresh technologies and creative skills, share experiences and enjoy the most innovative teaching practices to solve their challenges and ensure that their students are well prepared for the future workplace. This is the second Microsoft Global Forum that I attend. My first one was in Prague in December 2012 where I was fascinated by the high quality resources offered and the type of experience I carried back home along with my first educational global award in the category of Knowledge construction and critical thinking. I have been teaching Biology for 18 years, and Microsoft Global Forums were the best thing I have ever experienced throughout my entire professional journey. What may characterize such an event for an educator like me?
First of all, in every Microsoft Global forum, there is the “Technology Showcase” that displays continuously the newest technologies used in education, the ones that are able to inspire students to learn and empower teachers to prepare their students for the next steps in life. Just surfing the booths and being introduced to the organizations and institutions that partnered with Microsoft to offer great deal of resources and professional development, offered me the desire to flip my class and endorse some of these technologies while benefiting from the others to motivate both students and teachers at my school and improve the quality of education in class.
Second, during the event, attending professionals’ key notes and discussing educational topics with educational experts live in hot topic discussion panels, made me feel like living in Heaven. Taking the advice direct from the most professional educators and the high profile experts cannot but inspire me and push me to the next level of making a change in the way I think and teach.
Third, I was able to meet innovative educators from different countries around the globe, teachers from different backgrounds, speaking different languages, yet teachers who equally believe in the power of technology once used in the teaching-learning process, especially that our students are the future digital citizens. When we talked about the projects executed each with their students, I was exposed to a repertoire of new innovative practices that added a new perspective to teaching and big deal of ideas to be executed with our own students.
Fourth, working in the multinational group project competition “the learn-a-thon” offered me the experience to be exposed to new ways of thinking, new ways of treating any topic, new languages, new cultures, new traditions; it offered me the chance to make new friends who have become an essential supportive element whenever I need to introduce anything new in my class. Also, it led me to correct misconceptions about countries, and realize that every country no matter how poor or how rich is able to innovate in their own unique way.
Fifth, as a Lebanese educator, I could leave a mark on the global board of education when I received the global award twice after tough competitions; The first award was for my individual project in 2012 “ The Warak Warak Method” which is a new teaching method that integrates both 21st century skills and simple technological practices in class, and the second award was for the multinational group work “Go Bango” (Lebanon, Panama, Bangladesh, Poland and Ecuador) which is about constructing an online business for students to prevent their dropping out from school. These awards were a clear appreciation and recognition by experts in education for my work. Through them, I could prove that our country is not just a field for conflict and battles, but it comprises innovative and constructive educational practices in spite of all the stress we live day by day. When my work proved to be credible, other teachers back home were motivated to learn more from my experience so I began to deliver a series of free workshops in Microsoft training room to bring the experience from abroad and share it with other teachers from all Lebanon in order to stay updated with the best teaching practices.
Last but not least, dealing with professionals forces us to treat others with professionalism…. Once you return from such a huge event, you feel the urge to always set higher standards so that you would be up to the expectations of your students and fellow teachers who start looking at you as a hero in education.