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Better Together: 9 Benefits of Team Learning

Collage of group photos of the educators who attended ISTE together.

(Image credit: Lisa Nielsen)

More than two dozen educators from across New York City schools experienced the benefits of team learning when they descended upon Philadelphia, PA for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference.

You can read the insights of these attendees below to discover the benefits they realized as a result of participating in events as a team. If you like what they shared you can click on their name to learn more about them and follow them on Twitter.

Better Together

Being together as a NYCDOE team made such a difference. The discussions went on all day and night about how we can all be better. I loved being part of our team. It made ISTE 100 times better.

--Eileen Lennon

Overall the level of support, technical assistance, and collective knowledge made us all more effective.

--Sean Arnold

Supportive Environment

I felt supported and welcome in the group. The conference was not isolating or overwhelming like I imagined, I had a group of people I could turn to when I needed help, directions, advice, session ideas. ISTE with #NYCSchoolsTech inspired me more than anything else in my teaching career.

--Serena Robinett

It was powerful and energizing to know that we have each other for support, collaboration, and good conversations. 

--Cindy Wong

Having a team there enabled us to attend one another’s presentations and provide a supportive environment for colleagues. 

--Jackie Patanio

Deeper Discussions

We discussed what we learned, what we shared, what help we might need, what we will do when we get home. All of those discussions happened in Philly when they couldn't have happened anywhere else.

--Eileen Lennon

We had in depth discussions that I would not have had with strangers- the tech trends we foresee in NYC, different ways to foster community among teachers, and how to implement more digital inclusion in our practice.

--Serena Robinett

A Part of Something Bigger

In my school I often feel very isolated, an island struggling to make connection with the mainland classroom. The group always give me a sense of being part of something bigger. 

--Nick Rubinfier

Making District-Specific Meaning 

It was most important to turn to my colleagues and say ”what do you think of this... in nyc?” To grow we need to collaborate on a level beyond the day to day. Being there as a group helped us to do that.  

--Clay Smith

This atmosphere allowed for conversations tied to relevant and current content which we could discuss in terms of how it relates to or work at the NYCDOE.  

--JoAnn Westhall

Conferences are a chance to learn from others and bring back actionable practices to your school, but attending as a group is so much more fulfilling. At one point I mentioned something I was considering doing at my school and was given advice and model schools in NYC to look to for inspiration and best practices.

--Serena Robinett

Attending ISTE as a group meant being with like-minded and bold educators with a vision to prepare students to be future ready. 

--Cindy Wong

Benefits to Non-Attendees

Attending as a group allowed DOE members to record my sessions and allow DOE staff not in attendance to benefit from being able to view the material. 

--Sean Arnold

Strengthen Relationships

Meeting colleagues/collaborating from across the NYCDOE from our online PLN (#NYCSchoolsTech group) in person helped me feel closer to the community, gave me a sense of who to seek for crowdsourcing. There are so many incredibly talented educators within this group each with a unique skill and experience.  

--JoAnn Westhall

Awareness

The group helped me find sessions that I might not have considered which benefited me greatly (I even sprinted to a session!).

--Serena Robinet

Being a part of the group enabled me to be aware of sessions and learning opportunities I didn't have time or the availability to make.

--Sean Arnold

A Sense of Belonging

I attended the last ISTE in Phili years ago, and felt very detached. This year, it was the opposite. I felt closer to the whole Network of NYCDOE Tech people, and to EdTech as a whole.  I came back so much richer than I went.  It also helped me clarify what I want to do with the next phase of my career. 

--Eric Kollin

This was my first ISTE and being a part of the group made this experience non-isolating and helped expand our network to share ideas and resources. 

--Cindy Wong

Your Turn

What do you think? Have you attended a learning opportunity with others? If so, did you realize any of these benefits? Anything missing? What are some strategies you’ve put in place for successful team learning?

Lisa Nielsen (@InnovativeEdu) has worked as a public-school educator and administrator since 1997. She is a prolific writer best known for her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator. Nielsen is the author of several booksand her writing has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times,The Wall Street Journal, Tech&Learning, and T.H.E. Journal.