The Edge

Latino/Latina Affinity Group with Greta Sandler and Olga Kazarina

June 13, 2024 ISTE Season 2 Episode 22
Latino/Latina Affinity Group with Greta Sandler and Olga Kazarina
The Edge
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The Edge
Latino/Latina Affinity Group with Greta Sandler and Olga Kazarina
Jun 13, 2024 Season 2 Episode 22

Join Georgia and Jessica as they connect with the Latino/Latina Affinity Group Leaders Greta Sandler and Olga Kazarina. Join them as they share information about the affinity group at the upcoming ISTE Live 24 conference in Denver and the issues facing Latino/Latina educators. 

Show Notes Transcript

Join Georgia and Jessica as they connect with the Latino/Latina Affinity Group Leaders Greta Sandler and Olga Kazarina. Join them as they share information about the affinity group at the upcoming ISTE Live 24 conference in Denver and the issues facing Latino/Latina educators. 

ISTE’s The Edge Recording Session - Latina & Latino Affinity Group

[00:00:00] Georgia Terlaje: It's time for the edge, a podcast brought to you by ISTE community leaders. Whether you're a seasoned educator, a visionary administrator, or a passionate education enthusiast, fasten your seatbelts, plug in your buds because this podcast is tailor made for you. Get ready to embark on an exhilarating journey as our ITSD community leaders take you behind the scenes and into the dynamic world of education.

[00:00:24] Georgia Terlaje: In the episodes ahead, we'll unveil stories from the front lines, showcasing the relentless dedication and innovation that fuels the transformative field of education. Buckle up and brace yourself for an adventure coming up today. We've got two guests who are friends of this podcast.

[00:00:42] Georgia Terlaje: We know them in lots of other capacities that we're very excited. They're here and they're going to be discussing affinity groups for it's the live 2024. I'm one of your community leader hosts, Georgia Terlahi. I'm a TK5 instructional coach and an educator of 35 years. And I'm here with my always favorite partner in crime, Jessica Pack.

[00:01:02] Jessica Pack: Thank you, Georgia. It is always a great day when I get to hang out with you. I'm Jessica Pack, a middle school teacher and an ISTE author. And I'm looking forward to today's episode because we are going to dive deeper into the role of affinity groups. ISTE live, and today we are focusing on the Latino Latina group.

[00:01:24] Jessica Pack: We are joined by not one, but two of our fellow ISTE community leaders, Greta Sandler and Olga Casarena. Welcome. Thank you so much for joining us. 

[00:01:38] Greta Sandler: Hi there. Thank you for having us. I'm really excited to be joining you today. 

[00:01:44] Olga Kazarina: Hi everyone. Thank you so much for having us. So exciting. 

[00:01:49] Jessica Pack: So we're hoping that you would just let Introduce yourselves a little bit to listeners who maybe haven't heard you on a prior episode.

[00:01:57] Jessica Pack: So Greta, can we start with you? Who are you and what do you do? 

[00:02:02] Greta Sandler: Okay, so I just started a new job. I'm a technology and digital design coordinator at an international school here in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I'm an ISTE certified educator and an ISTE community leader. I must say I love our ISTE community.

[00:02:21] Olga Kazarina: Hello, my name is Olga, as you already know, and I come from Chile. I'm situated right now in the fifth region, just on the beautiful coast. And I work as EdTech specialist, helping Chilean schools to integrate technology in a meaningful and seamless way. I'm also Eastern Certified Educator, just like Greta, and I'm a Google Champion, and I'm very happy to be here.

[00:02:45] Georgia Terlaje: Well, we're so glad to have you back on the edge. Can you give us a little insight? We may have talked about it before, but how did Greta and Olga, how did you guys come together through ITSD? Cause you're in different countries. How have you started working together? Cause you do lots of things. 

[00:03:01] Greta Sandler: Okay, so Olga and I have a friend in common through Google communities and Olga was doing the EC certified educator course.

[00:03:14] Greta Sandler: And he said, you need to talk to Olga. And we connected right away. And it turned out we were both EC community leaders. I didn't know that. And so it's like, we have to start doing things together. That's how it all started. 

[00:03:33] Olga Kazarina: Yeah, that was a very beautiful story in beginning of our collaboration because I was struggling a little bit with my EC certification process and sometimes it seems like a paramount task that you have to work every month, and there was just one standard I couldn't understand.

[00:03:48] Olga Kazarina: So I reached out to Greta and she has been a very lovely mentor to me, so she helped me out and this is how we met each other and well, you know, the Chile, Argentina, we share the same border, so we are basically just around the corner. And before I saw Greta also on LinkedIn and I think also as a community leader, but we didn't get a chance to talk and now we are so globally connected.

[00:04:11] Greta Sandler: And we get to see each other for the very first time in person at ISTE. So that's amazing. After working together for so long, we get to meet. 

[00:04:22] Jessica Pack: Oh, my gosh, I love that so much. You guys have done so many wonderful projects together, and we just love every time we get to talk to you, learning more about global education.

[00:04:32] Jessica Pack: As we're heading into ISTE Live, what is the role that you see affinity groups playing at this year's conference? And what motivated both of you to become involved in the Latino Latina Affinity Group. Olga, can we start with you? 

[00:04:49] Olga Kazarina: Sure. So about the first question that you, Jessica, asked how we see affinity groups during ISTI Live.

[00:04:56] Olga Kazarina: I think we both would like to see special gatherings and special events held for both English and Spanish speaking community. So it can be truly bilingual and all the language speakers could be included as well. Because I also honestly feel like when somebody speaks to you into your, in your native language, it can get so much deeper into your heart, even though it's not a semantic or it's not a linguistic aspect.

[00:05:23] Olga Kazarina: It's just, you can connect to the other person in so many different levels. So I think it could be such a beautiful opportunity also to connect to each other in a professional setting, if there, there would be some representation in Spanish language. What do you think Greta? 

[00:05:40] Greta Sandler: Yes, I couldn't agree more. I think it's not our case because we are bilingual, but language is a huge barrier for Spanish speaking educators, well, Spanish speakers in general, and nowadays we have access to To PD in Spanish, but it's not the same.

[00:06:02] Greta Sandler: We don't have the same possibilities. So, you know, being able to connect during Eastie with other Latino and Latina educators will definitely help us not just learn new things, but also think about different possibilities on how we can reach other educators and help them, you know, remove that barrier.

[00:06:26] Greta Sandler: Because really, It's a lot. Like, I work at a bilingual school, and when I have to work with Spanish teachers, and I have resources in English, it's frustrating for them. So, it's very hard and I really wish there was more there were more, Things provided for us in Spanish so that we all have the same, you know, learning possibilities because in the end, what matters is our students and I think we would have a bigger reach if we could access that

[00:07:04] Georgia Terlaje: in what ways do you think technology can empower and uplift the Latino and Latina community and education and beyond? 

[00:07:14] Olga Kazarina: I was just sorry, Greta, you go ahead. No, no, it's okay. You can go ahead. I was just thinking about it. I completely agree with Greta that sometimes there's so many great materials in the professional setting, professional space, but they are in English.

[00:07:28] Olga Kazarina: And I wouldn't say fortunately or unfortunately, it's just the way it is. And sometimes having that a huge benefit of being bilingual, understanding things, both in English and Spanish just gives you so much benefit and just puts you like one step ahead. And we just wish everybody had the same opportunity.

[00:07:46] Olga Kazarina: To access the, the materials and the information in both languages. And in regards to your question, Georgia I was just thinking that technology can play a very big role in providing these accessibility to different language speakers, for example, subtitles, right? A simultaneous translation.

[00:08:04] Olga Kazarina: And now it's so much more automatized through artificial intelligence that it really removes the barriers between different people from different countries. What do you think, Greta? 

[00:08:16] Greta Sandler: Yes, I agree. And I also think that technology helps us connect. Like, I'm connected to Olga. Olga is in Chile. I'm in Argentina.

[00:08:25] Greta Sandler: I'm connected to you that you are in the U. S. And I think, like, the pandemic as hard as it was, also helped the, like, well, everybody in the world, right? But we are talking about Latino and Latina, that they helped us, you know, connect. And we were forced to learn. And I was really amazed, like the Hispanic community is huge.

[00:08:51] Greta Sandler: Like through Google groups, for example, we met tons of educators and we started supporting each other and that wouldn't happen before the pandemic. So after that, everybody began learning and growing. So. I think providing better opportunities probably, I don't know, it's super important because it's the best way we can remove these barriers.

[00:09:20] Greta Sandler: And I also think artificial intelligence, as Olga said, it's playing a key role here because, I don't know, whenever I need to write something, I like to do it. Santipiti, can you correct this? Sometimes, you know, writing an email, even though I'm bilingual, I struggle because I want to think properly. I don't want to mess up what I, like, if I have to say something that it's not really something harsh, but I want it to sound polite.

[00:09:48] Greta Sandler: So all these things are like, they are easier now, but at the same time, we need to provide all these tools or help educators learn about these tools, too. So,

[00:10:03] Jessica Pack: That's fabulous that you've been able to connect during the pandemic and then also continue those relationships into the current space. Can you share a success story from your work with other Latino, Latina educators, some maybe collaborative project that you've done together?

[00:10:21] Greta Sandler: We are hosting Spanish webinars like the ISTE community leader webinars. We are hosting them together with Perla, Samora, Olga and I. So we try to provide good PG for free. It's not just for ISTE members. It's open to everyone. So I think this is amazing. It's amazing. Such a powerful way of getting educators, you know, to learn about ISTE too, because this is something that happens.

[00:10:50] Greta Sandler: They say, Oh, ISTE, it's English. I cannot access that. So it's like, we are bringing ISTE in a more accessible way. And we are also, you know, amplifying the voice of amazing educators who otherwise didn't, wouldn't have. this space. So I'm, I'm super proud of what we are doing. I don't know what you think Olga.

[00:11:16] Olga Kazarina: Yeah, I completely agree with you Greta. Like, with the webinars in Spanish, it gives the Spanish speaking educators the voice as well within the ISTE community, so they also feel included, because I truly believe that ISTE can provide such a great community and professional experience. Learning network where we can all thrive together.

[00:11:38] Olga Kazarina: And I think that's why it has been so successful as well. It's just sometimes it's a pity than some educators just because they don't speak the language that in this case, it's English for them. It's not. sometimes becomes a big barrier that they wouldn't get the access to the information, but these webinars we definitely consider it being a success story.

[00:11:58] Olga Kazarina: And adding there also, I've met some people in Chile that they're going to EC conference to present and their English is not very fluent. So they've been putting a lot of effort into basically daily exercising and improving their language skills and repeating the script just in order to, to, to go to the conference and to show the expertise in, in the language that's required.

[00:12:24] Olga Kazarina: Even though probably the other people also who speak Spanish or who would understand the same presentation in Spanish. So we are currently working on that, trying to provide also professional developments, Greta mentioned in Spanish language and elevate those educators basically around the world.

[00:12:40] Georgia Terlaje: And hopefully with these conversations and the affinity groups, like you had said, Greta, who the person you were talking to, they thought it's D in English. We have to start. Really working like you ladies are to not have that be the case. And I know it's like baby steps in early days, but I think the work you're doing really is impactful so that, you know, people that are coming to ISTE where Spanish is their main language and they're uncomfortable, they will have this group to hopefully help them navigate because just navigating this ISTE is difficult.

[00:13:14] Georgia Terlaje: So I think that's really exciting. What are some other things you have planned for it? See this summer in regards to the Latina Latino affinity group. Anything you can share at this point?

[00:13:28] Greta Sandler: I know there's gonna be a meet up. I'm not sure because I don't know if it's been confirmed yet, so I don't know exactly when it will happen, but we will be sharing about it on the community. Twitter handle, and probably Istioficial will be sharing about it too. And Many of us are already connected. So we will find also moments where we can get together.

[00:13:59] Greta Sandler: There won't be like any session in Spanish or maybe there, if there is, I don't know about that, but I don't know, maybe it's, as you said, Georgia, these are baby steps and who knows, maybe next year we could even have like a playground in Spanish or, you know, a space for educators to, to connect in. They are native for Latino and Latina to connect in their native language, so that would be great.

[00:14:27] Greta Sandler: Right, Olga? 

[00:14:28] Olga Kazarina: Yeah, that would be an ideal scenario, but I also agree there's a baby steps and every day or every time we try to to to put from our part and our friend, Perla Zamora, she's going to host some Spanish speaking campfire, if I'm not mistaken, so she's going to offer two sessions, one in English and the other one will be in Spanish.

[00:14:51] Olga Kazarina: But I will keep the topic secret. So there is some, some surprise to be discovered. 

[00:14:58] Jessica Pack: I love that you are going to be leveraging and your counterparts in within the affinity group, but leveraging those informal conversational spaces like the campfires to just be able to, you know, get everyone involved and amplify more voices.

[00:15:13] Jessica Pack: Are there any other challenges that you've encountered as You advocate for Latino, Latina representation and equity in the ed tech space. Well, I 

[00:15:25] Greta Sandler: think the cost of different, you know, technology, not just PD, but also apps devices I, Argentina, for example, it's going through a huge economic crisis, and it's very difficult to get good devices, even for kids.

[00:15:44] Greta Sandler: For, for schools that are like privileged background schools. Like last year, it was impossible to get good Chromebooks. And the ones you had to buy, you had to pay a lot of money and they would. They wouldn't be, you know strong enough to last more than a school year. So that's probably one of the biggest challenges we have.

[00:16:05] Greta Sandler: Paying for PD, paying for resources It's like, for example, I tend to join like every community I can and see how can I get something back so I can get that. like the service or the app for free. So it's, but it's really demanding because you have to work a lot harder to get those things, but it's very difficult.

[00:16:30] Greta Sandler: And probably like when we find out like a free app is not free anymore, that's like a really big time. I mean, it's a big challenge for everyone, but it's frustrating because I know. There will be a lot more things that we could do if we could access Better technology at, I don't know, cheaper price.

[00:16:57] Greta Sandler: And you know, Olga, what do you think? 

[00:17:00] Olga Kazarina: Yeah, that's very true. Like financial constraints. I think that's the biggest challenge. And the other thing I would definitely mention is the way devices are deployed. I know that in the United States it's Kind of common that students have one device for for themselves, like one on one, the schools where I have pleasure to work both private and public schools, not very common to see one on one device deployment.

[00:17:24] Olga Kazarina: It means that the normal devices are shared. And that also brings a certain, that's an element of, of challenge to, to both teachers and students. Yeah, I would like a common vetting policies. I know also in US schools, like there is a vetting process. There's certain data policies and it just makes the things more structured and organized.

[00:17:46] Olga Kazarina: And sometimes because we, in certain schools, we have different devices, different levels of of, let's say, tech skills or digital skills, it definitely presents a challenge when we talk about tech integration. And particularly what Greta mentioned, also, I've heard nightmares about Argentina and right, and dollars and how difficult it is to, to get things done just because of different factors and it becomes a big obstacle for both educators and students.

[00:18:17] Greta Sandler: Yes. I wanted to add that, for example, private schools here in Argentina are mainly bring your own device, which is a huge challenge because you have some kids who might have an iPad. Others who might have a Chromebook, others with a Windows device, and then you have a MacBook.

[00:18:37] Greta Sandler: So it's It's really challenging for educators, but it's the only way like schools could provide like a one to one experience, especially private, the private sector. And these are schools that Probably parents pay a lot of money to get their kids in and still schools can't provide like a solid technologies strategy.

[00:19:05] Greta Sandler: So I think that is a big challenge and the divide between, you know, private and public education is huge. So. It's like you even have differences, like I live in the city of Buenos Aires, and it's probably different than most of the, like the rest of the country, but there are some provinces where kids don't even have access to the internet.

[00:19:33] Greta Sandler: So. That's very difficult. And it's really difficult to reach those teachers and help them because there's no way we can connect with them. So, I, I would say probably that's the biggest challenge. And I know I speak about Argentina, but I know this happens in mostly all Latin America. 

[00:19:56] Olga Kazarina: Yeah, that's very true, Greta.

[00:19:58] Olga Kazarina: And I will just add that again, it's not only Argentinos in Chile, there is some remote areas as well as in Colombia, and there is no access to Internet. So some companies or some, let's say, state solutions have been to have satellite Internet. So there are some satellites that they share internet. So the schools could have access to internet.

[00:20:17] Olga Kazarina: So students could have internet on their devices because maybe sometimes they would manage to have devices like through different financial options or through donations, but then there is no internet to get connected, right? So that presents another challenge that connectivity, because even though if you take a look at late in America is a very big let's say continent with a different levels of development.

[00:20:39] Olga Kazarina: Still, we have to remember there are some areas that's a very remote and they were quite big population. 

[00:20:48] Georgia Terlaje: Well, and I'm just, I'm just thinking like big idea. Like if we, you know, it's D is a chance to talk to some of these corporate people creating these ed tech. Apps that there needs to be. It sounds like differentiation in even like how they approach, you know, like South America, like it's not really maybe equitable to be charging the same amount that you charge in the United States.

[00:21:14] Georgia Terlaje: Maybe they need to look at partnering like you're talking about with how to get access, internet access to some of these remote areas. So, and I, and I think, you know, you. Certainly you two ladies, because I know you are like power brokers. We need to talk this up because it isn't, it is an equity issue.

[00:21:35] Georgia Terlaje: And if we want to be a global organization, you know, companies need to be global and you know, we need to help each other out. So I don't know, we just need to keep talking about it. And I guess whoever we talked to in the exhibit hall, we can maybe bring that up. So what are you doing for other countries to make it a more equitable You know, roll out we're, you know, we're kind of coming to the end.

[00:21:56] Georgia Terlaje: I didn't know if you ladies had anything else you wanted to make sure that you added or we talked about before we close ourselves out.

[00:22:04] Greta Sandler: No, I'm just really, really thankful for this space. And it's always a pleasure talking with you. And yes, just thank you, because we are beginning these conversations, again, the baby steps. And I think it's really important. And there's an I in ISTE that stands for international. And that's what we are really advocating for.

[00:22:33] Olga Kazarina: Thank you so much for having us. And I really agree with George on that. I think it's called you a neutral approach, right? For different pricing, right? Depends on what each country can afford, depending maybe on like Gini index or different index of development. And we truly believe there is a huge potential among Spanish speaking community and Spanish speaking educators.

[00:22:56] Olga Kazarina: So hopefully one day they will So get the more access and more equity to, to edtech. And thank you so much for having us here. That was a real pleasure. 

[00:23:07] Jessica Pack: Well, this has been such a great conversation. Thank you both again for being here today. We appreciate your time and your message. Before we let you go, where can listeners connect with you to continue this conversation or find out more about the Latino Latina Affinity Group?

[00:23:23] Jessica Pack: Greta? 

[00:23:25] Greta Sandler: Yes, we have the Latino Latina Affinity Group space in Connect, which is open for Like not just 60 members, but also for everyone. So that's a great place. you know, to start having these conversations together. And of course we are on social media. We are all over the place. Just reach out to us and we will be happy to, you know, open a call, start a conversation and see what we can all do together, you know, give more opportunities for the Hispanic community.

[00:24:03] Jessica Pack: And your handle is at Gret. Yes, at Gret. 

[00:24:08] Olga Kazarina: Perfect. And Olga? And we hope to see you in one of our Spanish speaking webinars hosted by community leaders as well as at the campfire that's going to happen at the conference. And my handle is Olga Kazarina on LinkedIn and it's Olga Mikhailov in Instagram.

[00:24:28] Olga Kazarina: So I hope to get connected to you. And I post their both in Spanish and English. Try to keep it bilingual. 

[00:24:35] Jessica Pack: Perfect. Well that just about wraps up this episode of the Edge podcast. We hope you had a great time. My name is Jessica and you can find me at Pac Woman 2 0 8 on X threats and Instagram. 

[00:24:49] Georgia Terlaje: And I'm Georgia Slahi.

[00:24:50] Georgia Terlaje: And you can find me at Georgia Slahi on X. And you can find Jessica and I both at storytelling saves the 

[00:24:57] Jessica Pack: On behalf of everyone here at ISTE'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.