Join Georgia and Jessica as they talk to Greta Sandler and Cammie Kannekans, two educators from different ends of the Americas who have connected to build their PLN through escape rooms.
Georgia Terlaje: [00:00:00] It is Time for the Edge, a podcast from its D community leaders. If you are an educator, administrator, or anyone in the field of education, this is a podcast for you. Over the next few episodes, you will hear stories of people who are doing the rewarding and at times hard work in education, and these stories will be brought to you by Isti community leaders.
Coming up today, we've got two fabulous guests on the show who will discuss international collaboration. I'm one of your community leader hosts, Georgia Tlai. I'm a TK five instructional coach and educator of 34 years, and I'm here with my favorite partner in crime, Jessica Pak.
Jessica Pack: Hello. Hello. Thank you, Georgia.
I'm Jessica Pak and I'm a middle school teacher and an isty author. I'm really excited for today's episode because we're going to deep dive with some special guests about the joy and challenges of collaborating internationally as well as fostering professional growth. We're joined by two of our fellow Isti [00:01:00] community leaders, Cammy Kins, an instructional coach from Canada, and Greta Sandler, who is a learning innovation leader from Argentina. Thanks so much for being here today.
Cammie Kannekens: It is great to be here with other community leaders.
Greta Sandler: Hi everyone, this is Greta, and thank you for having us today.
Cammie Kannekens: Well, welcome to the
Georgia Terlaje: Edge, Cammi and Greta, could you give us a little insight into how you met, like what's your collaborative
Cammie Kannekens: origin story?
Well, this might be interesting because we might each have a different version of what that looks like. So I, you know, as an online educator with a, you know, growing P l N, I remember seeing this Greta girl in lots of different places, right? So I, even before Isti, we would, I know we did a sketch note course together and I.
The coaches. Oh, oh, that's probably where it started, was with, , Google coaches, Google, like, so the goo were both Google coaches and, okay, I'm a Google coach and Greta was working toward that [00:02:00] maybe. Okay. So, but events around Google coaching and so, you know, you're in the same Zoom call and so it, they're Greta, Greta, Greta, right.
And so then, , when I became a community leader, well, there's Greta, and so then we started to do more. Things together. That's my version. What's your version, Greta?
Greta Sandler: Same one. Yeah. It it. I was surprised to see Cammi everywhere and it's like we have a lot of things in common and when I saw she was part of the community leader program, I like started to connect even more with her.
And I remember last year when I, I found out I would be able to come here to still life, , she messaged me as like, we have to go to the lunch and hour together. And that's when we met face to face. We also met Amanda and. Our collaboration story started.
Georgia Terlaje: So what was one of the first things that you two worked on together when you were backed in your [00:03:00] respective homes?
Cammie Kannekens: It was probably one of two things. Yeah, the is, so Greta is one of the leaders of the Isti social media. Piece. And so when there's an expert is the expert webinar, Greta is part of the team that puts together the slow chat after that. So I was part of that social media team and I started to jump in and lead some of the Twitter spaces, which was a little bit.
Out of my comfort zone the first time. It's like a little scary to do that for the first time, but it's like, I can do that for Greta. And so I learned a new thing and so I've helped out with lots of those. That was the first, and then the, probably the bigger piece where we've collaborated on has been
Greta Sandler: the escape rooms.
We, we are working together with Amanda and Maggie. We were at a community leader meeting and we found out we were getting the UD Diving to UDL book, and we were talking about working on meetups. And Amanda came up with the idea [00:04:00] of doing escape room based on the UDL book and.
I love U dl. I love Cape Rooms, but most of all, I wanted to work with them and so we started Amanda Cammy and me working on designing this Cape Room, and then Maggie joined Maggie works at Caste. So that changed everything because we were able to make our escape room a real U D L experience.
Georgia Terlaje: So maybe for listeners just cast is like where, , U DL started. So they are like all things u dl. So I think that's great that you got one of, you know, the, from the founding group to help with the escape room. Escape room. So how did it go?
Cammie Kannekens: It was good. We, so we actually spent, , we did it I think in October was the first one.
So probably from the time that we all came home from Isti and recovered from Covid. , then we built, we started to meet and we met. [00:05:00] Often and over and over and over, and by the time we were a week or two out, we were pretty well set up to run this, so we ran it. So it's a digital escape room built on a Google site, and then we ran the whole experience virtually.
So you know, working with Isti to get registration and the Zoom and all of that. So that was the first one, and it went well.
Greta Sandler: Yes, it was really good. , I think our biggest takeaway was that accessibility can be fun. Sometimes when we are creating accessible material, we think it can be boring. And working with Maggie has really, , made our team more powerful.
And then when we finish, it's like we need to do another one. We came up with the idea of doing the digital citizenship one, and well, we ended up doing three presentations here at DC live, one on the UDL escape room, another one on the ditch seat.
And [00:06:00] we did, , make and take on escape rooms in the multimedia playground today.
Jessica Pack: I love hearing you talk about working together and the depth of what you're able to create. , and you've done this multiple times, like many iterations. This was not like a one and done experience, so what is it that keeps drawing you back to each other and giving you this desire to collaborate
Cammie Kannekens: from?
For me, working as a coach in a district that's smaller and remote. , I don't, you know, I've been outta the classroom for about four or five years now. You, you kind of, you, your people change, right? And so, , I don't have a, a huge group of coaches that I work with, and so I've really found that it's beneficial to have a P L N and build a p n, where you have people who are like-minded and interested in the same things and who are at a, I'm gonna say like a level of.
Of exploration or experience in in things. And so it's been really good to design and [00:07:00] create that way. And today, when we were finished our last presentation, Greta says, well, we need to start planning for the next one. Well, and
Georgia Terlaje: Jessica and I have talked often because we are at Itty live right now about how it's finding your tribe and you find your tribe, and then just because Greta goes back to Argentina, you still wanna work together.
And so you find those ways to do that because it's so impactful to collaborate with, you know, similar. People that wanna do things like outside of the box, non-traditional ways, , that's really helps like feed your bucket, fill your bucket. Have you been able to replicate, do any of this in the classroom with your digital escape
Cammie Kannekens: rooms?
I've actually been doing escape rooms for quite a long time, and so that's one of the reasons why I kind of gravitated toward that project. , I've done, you know, like the physical in the box with breakout edu. I'm a breakout e edu ambassador for a long time, and so I, I've worked with that [00:08:00] platform, but then also as a, a Google certified trainer.
And coach, I've done lots of work. You know, build, you can build 'em in Google on a, on a Google site, which is how our model goes. A Google site with a Google form, and you can do 'em in OneNote in Microsoft, there's all sorts of ways you can build escape rooms. So I've done lots of, , escape rooms of various kinds with classes.
And , I actually have a set of physical boxes that I take as a coach and I go to different schools and I set it all up ahead of time and I kind of. Parachute into the class, and the teachers love that in my little district because they're often, you know, doubled or triple graded because the class, the schools are so small.
So it's like something that I can bring to them that is an incredible experience, but that they didn't have to spend hours. Taken care of. Well, and as a coach
Georgia Terlaje: I totally relate to that cuz sometimes that's your ticket into the classroom. Cause I have done the same thing with the breakout edu actual boxes.
Mm-hmm. And setting them up takes a long time and it's a great way to get an entree into the classroom and the kids love it. And, , [00:09:00] what a great way for that higher level thinking to
Cammie Kannekens: be shown. So I have three, three things that come in carts in my job. So I have a set of virtual reality goggles. I have.
The breakout boxes. But then I also have a set of Chromebooks that I bring for MAP testing, like N W E A testing. And so it's either, it's often they see me pulling a cart and they're not sure. It's one of those three things and they're like, no, it's not the MAP test today, is it? So it's either that or, oh, it's Mrs.
Kins. So it's either I'm there for a really exciting reason or something that they're not so thrilled with.
Greta Sandler: So, I've done digital escape room with my students. , not, , not after this experience, but before, , we do a project on ancient Greece, so I created one where they're, oh, you are lost. In Greece and you have to go back and we set the tone with a video and they really like it.
We also did one on Vikings, one working on a history [00:10:00] unit. , I'm having conversations at school. , now I have a new role, so I'm working with teachers too, besides being in the classroom. And we wanna do the u, the UDL escape room. I will have to translate it into Spanish, but we are thinking about implementing it.
For your teachers or your students? Yes, for our teachers.
Jessica Pack: So we've heard you talk about some of the joys of international collaboration. What are a few of the challenges that you've experienced?
Cammie Kannekens: Well, it won't surprise you the time zones or an ongoing trouble. So well challenge, we'll say challenge. , I'm from mountain zone, so. Amanda's, Amanda and Meg year from Eastern, and then gre depending on whether it's , daylight savings or not.
Greta is an hour ahead of Eastern or two, so it's like even, you know, to meet, it's this window. Now, fortunately, you know, the, the cultural. [00:11:00] Day pattern in Argentina is a little different. So, you know, while the rest of us are having separate at six o'clock, GRE is having separate nine o'clock. So that kind of, you know, it, it expands her day a little bit.
So maybe we get a little extra out of the, the time calendar, but certainly that's, that's one. And then we're all busy educators too, so, you know, trying to f we meet at some weird times sometimes.
Greta Sandler: Yeah, definitely the time zone. , I also work a lot with Stephanie Howell, and she's a morning person. She wakes up at 4:00 AM and she starts working.
I'm not a morning person. Okay. I wake up at six, not at four, so it's like I wait for daylight saving time when I'm two hours ahead, so when I wake up I can work with her, but definitely. Definitely time zones is probably the biggest challenge. We sometimes find time on the weekends we are working on this, but at the same time we are hanging out and talking and spending time.
So if we have to [00:12:00] meet on the weekends, it's not a problem. But
Georgia Terlaje: that's part of collaboration is like figuring out commonalities and, you know, adjusting things and so nice that you eat dinner so late so that they can, , create times where, where all you guys
Cammie Kannekens: can meet. But I think that's absolutely, absolutely at collaboration ventures are successful when people are willing to be flexible and, you know, really if you're interested in the collaboration, Most of the time you can make it work.
, people are like, well, I've got, you know, I don't work after five. Okay, well maybe this isn't the collaboration for you. Right? So that, that mindset is super helpful.
Georgia Terlaje: , so what is the next project you're
Cammie Kannekens: working on? Well, it sounds like we're working on another escape room.
Yeah. , the last two, there's kind of a feedback form at the end and it's like, check the boxes that you'd be interested in, , topic to come play another escape room. And so we have, we'll, we'll take a look at the data and see. I don't know if we haven't really picked one, [00:13:00] have we?
Greta Sandler: We talked about doing something on sel, but we talked about it like months ago, probably, I think in January we were, , there was this book, they, I dunno, they have launched it yet or not.
Creative sel, I think they, it has just landed. , we would love to do one on creative sel, but we didn't. It's like we, we haven't decided yet.
Cammie Kannekens: So probably something around an escape room. Yeah. This are
Greta Sandler: storytelling and we can invite you
Cammie Kannekens: and we'll probably continue to do the Twitter spaces and the slow chats and, and, and that, so, you know, those, some of those just keep going.
Jessica Pack: So what advice would you have for someone who wants to have greater global connection with other educators, , and needs a place to get started?
Cammie Kannekens: I would say I. Part of that is just doing something that you [00:14:00] probably aren't comfortable with and jumping into conversations, nudging your voice in. , in my case, you know, like you, I've been an ISTI member for quite a while, and then you, you see the things and the advertisements or the, the invitations and it's like, Apply to become a community leader.
Well, I said, well, that's kind of scary, but okay. And so I did. And then, you know, that just opens up a whole nother level of people who are committed to doing something. So I think part of it is, is doing things that don't feel fully comfortable in the moment, or not comfortable, but that stretch you. And so without that stretch, I think you probably stay pretty limited in your connections.
Greta Sandler: Yes, I would say building a community or being part of a community, , building a PLN has changed me so many ways, but not just professionally as a person. I particularly love IC community. It's, , but [00:15:00] there are many communities out there like Google groups. , The trainer, coach, innovator groups, , so many more.
, but, you know, finding your tribe, finding someone you can connect with. , I, I started, , using Twitter I think in 2007 or something, but just for him. Political reasons. I wanted to take the exact polls in my country elections, and then because in Argentina we are all soccer fans, so. But big what?
Soccer fans. And I wanted to see what was going on with the World Cup. And then I said one day, what's going on with education? And I discovered a whole new world of what was going on and things that weren't, we weren't even talking about in Argentina. So connecting with people through social media, , has.
Totally transformed me in, I dunno how many ways. , so I think that's the best advice. Find [00:16:00] someone, start having conversations.
Georgia Terlaje: And I think you guys hit on that with that like, growth outside your comfort zone, is that just stepping out and doing something uncomfortable? , and what's the worst that could happen?
, you find these fabulous friends, and I totally agree with both of you. You know, itsty has been such a great place to connect with other, , like-minded educators. , we would encourage. If people are listening and aren't, aren't members of isti or are, and haven't, you know, found their PLN or, , you know, look at isti community leaders, there's so many great ways to connect with this organization
Cammie Kannekens: for sure.
Even jumping onto the forums, you know, like, so that you connect with the TTI forums and the ask a question, answer a question, , you know, follow. If you see someone on there who's at, who's posting answers that you like, follow them on Twitter. , Twitter is still a really good spot for educators. About five years ago I was teaching a course for pre-service teachers at our local college, and someone says, Cammie Twitter is like, [00:17:00] so grade 10.
And that was a lo, you know, already a long time ago. Said, well, you know, for educators it's still a really vibrant space. And that was even, you know, probably five years ago. And so I would say still, of all the places, Twitter is still a really po or powerful place to connect as educators. Yes.
Greta Sandler: And there are so many amazing educators who are willing to, to share and empower you.
, I dunno. You, I think you all know Julie Jagger and I always, , say like, you are responsible of everything that's happening to me. Because she was the one that pushed me out of my comfort zone a year ago. , Amanda Cammy, Stephanie, they are always, you know, Greta, you should do this, and things that I wouldn't have.
Ever imagined I would, I am doing now. So it's, yes, stepping out of your comfort zone, but always, you know, having someone by your side that you [00:18:00] know won't let you mess up.
Jessica Pack: Well, before we let you go today, where can listeners connect with you to continue this conversation?
Cammie Kannekens: My Twitter handle is at Mrs. Kins.
And I've recently, after all these years, joined Facebook as well, kind of for that education piece. Kind of connected to my work. But I'm at Mrs. Kins on Facebook and I mostly just post things about my school district, but all educational. And I have a little blog that I do about all sorts of things, coaching and education and , bt ly slash k n blog would be a great way to connect with me there.
Greta Sandler: My favorite place is Twitter. I'm at Grit on Twitter. I use Instagram a lot, , at, I am at Grit Sandler there. , but yeah, Twitter I think is the best place to, to connect with me.
Jessica Pack: Well that about [00:19:00] wraps up this episode of the Edge Podcast. We hope you had a great time and learned something new. My name is Jessica and you can find me at Pack Woman 2 0 8 on Twitter and Instagram.
Georgia Terlaje: I'm Georgia. And you can find me at Georgia trla on Twitter. And you can find both of us at Storytelling saves the world.com.
Jessica Pack: On behalf of everyone here at Ty's the Edge Podcast, remember to keep exploring your passion, fostering your creativity, and continue taking risks, all things that can bring you to the edge.