March 21, 2017
by Emilia Carrillo

Those “eat me, earth” moments in our online-teaching career, that we all know too well!

This is a super busy time for us at Pamoja Education with reports, grades, IB assessments, etc, and so I wanted to take this opportunity to share something to get our minds off of the to-dos for a moment.

As online teachers, we are very familiar with online conferencing programs and software. When we are online teacher rookies we prepare for those conferences hours ahead of time, we take into account every  possible detail, do a practice run with someone else in the house and go the extra mile to ensure conference perfection. When we are more experienced online teachers, we still prepare ahead of time, we still do the practice run and ensure our surroundings are spot on. After all, this is the time when we meet our students synchronously and we want to make the most of the moment, get the most information across, motivate conversation and avoid distractions.

But, oh those moments, when the universe conspires against our intact professionalism and something unexpected and horribly unforgettable happens. Those “eat me, earth” moments that we will carry with us as ‘happy/embarrassing/incredible/unbelievable/why my?’ anecdotes for the rest of our lives….

Well, my fellow colleagues, be reassured that we are not the only ones. Please enjoy this video and let go of your “eat me, earth” moment. I assure you this will top it…thankfully!

And well, parodies and jokes need to appear after any respectable online “eat me, earth” moment, so please enjoy this one as well:

Now, I invite you to share your moment and help our community de-stress. Please leave your moment in the comments below: …..



February 21, 2017
by Emilia Carrillo

Work-life balance: using your upcoming Pamoja break to re-energize your teaching!

We all know that a balanced life includes time to spend with family and friends, working, exercising and sleeping, yet many of us have this balance tipped towards the time we spend on work-related activities.

work life balance in online teaching-t5iasu

For those of us in education the notion of having set working hours and a 37.5 hour week has always been a fantasy. However, how many times have you heard someone make a comment about the long holidays and short working days teachers have? It’s amazing there aren’t more people retraining to be teachers! In the online environment it can be even more difficult to manage the time we devote to our students, their work and our colleagues. At least in a face to face school the janitor will tell you to leave when they are trying to lock up the school and they are generally open only five days per week. In the online environment who tells you it’s time to log off or that Sunday mornings really are for having a lie in?!

“You can love your job but your job won’t love you back.”

Cathy Black


Forget those New Year resolutions, let’s all make an end of semester resolution – to log off and step away from the computer. I know most of us won’t manage that for three full weeks (if you’re like me you’re not very good at keeping resolutions!) but take some real time out for you and yours.

“You can’t do a good job if your job is all you do.”

Artefact Uprising


Reconnect with yourself – have a real conversation with a friend or relative you have neglected; go for a walk without your earphones plugged in; take a scenic drive; write just for the sake of it; stay away from technology; catch up on your sleep; do something you love.

Imagine the well-rested, content, mindful and relaxed version of you. Imagine how inspired and inspiring that version of you can be. Imagine how that person can support their students and colleagues in the new school-year.

How do you start? Have, at least, one off-line day!

It’s time for each of us to stop imagining and start creating that version of ourselves and that will only be achieved if we take some time to re-balance our life. Tip the scales toward yourself and have a happy, healthy and harmonious year and years to come.



This post was written by Pamoja Education Business and Management teacher Ruth West.








Image Credit – Flickr Commons

January 23, 2017
by Emilia Carrillo

6 Must Know Strategies for Implementing an Online Blended Learning Community

[Download our Infograph – “6 Powerful Reasons for Creating Online Learning Communities” at the end of this post]

Schools around the world have dedicated time and effort to develop online blended learning communities or Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) with varying degrees of success.  One of the key challenges most school communities face is not the lack of good ideas from good educators, but the lack of time for creative collaboration.  What if online strategies allowed you to “flip” your PLC, forming blended communities that harness great ideas and put them into action? This blog will explore how online tools and strategies can enhance your Professional Learning Community.

Online Blended Learning Community-1x719o4Image Credit – Flickr Commons

From The Flipped classroom to the Flipped Online Blended Learning Community (PLC):

Flip teaching (or flipped classroom) is a form of online blended learning in which students watch lectures online and work on problem sets with other students in class. This approach allows teachers to spend more time interacting with students instead of lecturing. This is also known as backwards classroom, reverse instruction, flipping the classroom and reverse teaching


Flipped Professional Learning Communities:  Flipped PLC’s have the potential to allow for real time collaboration with all the prep-work already completed through strategic material presented online beforehand.  This allows schools to really get to the heart of issues during the precious time they have together.  One of the important tricks is creating a space for this collaborative to start before and continue after any collaborative time. The online blended learning community provides its participants the time and the distance necessary for critical reflection and nuanced thinking.


Online Blended Learning Community Strategies:

The content below will introduce you to a set of strategies that can be used or may form the rationale for why to form an online blended learning community within your school, department, or work group. This will serve as the initial overview for these strategies. The strategies will be reviewed and considered further in subsequent blog posts.


Strategy 1: Avoiding Professional Development burnout:

How do you offer Professional Development in alternate ways from the full agenda one-hour meeting that keeps teachers out of their classrooms or beyond the end of their exhausting day?

  • Push vs. Pull PD: An online community lets teachers go to the information and pull down what they want or need, digest it, and creatively give back. The Email all function pushes agenda, tires out teachers, and gets very little traction. Pull communication is initiated by the teacher at a time and place that they are comfortable and engaged.
  • Leveraging Communication Channels: allow members to arrive at meetings informed and ready to discuss. By flipping the agenda a little bit you allow the one hour faculty meeting to gain more ground as opposed to simply presenting information that could have been disclosed before they arrived.


Strategy 2: Ubiquitous community: The convenience store of PD:

Allowing members to access the agenda anytime, anywhere, empowering them to think and take action when it is best for them.

  • 24-hour community: Speaks to the ability to have 24-hour coverage for question and answers, a constantly updated resource library, and access to peers.
  • Just in time support: Just in time learning or performance support. Delay is decay. Allow hard working teachers to access the standards and policies they need to do their job from anywhere at any time in an online blended learning community.


Strategy 3: Standardization Practices in Online blended learning communities:

How do you guarantee that teacher marking is standardized when you have multiple teachers of one subject or grade level?

  • Providing dynamic and enduring standardization practices: Allow teachers to have a plethora of examples year on year for how assessment and feedback worked. Allow new teachers to immediately gain experience from the Veterans teachers from recorded and archived standardization sessions. Avoid suitcase teachers from leaving with all of their wisdom by allowing for easy archiving and sharing.


Strategy 4: Supporting Members on the Fringe

Who has not been invited into the community?  Why?  What walls have been built that need to be torn down for the sake of transparency and better collective support?

  • Access: Create an environment that is inclusive and helps community members who might normally be involved find their voice. Is there a place for you to include parents in the planning process?


Strategy 5: Highlighting teacher initiatives and contributions:

Allowing colleagues to applaud the day-to-day achievements they see in the classroom and the hallway as a means of promoting togetherness and community. With all the hoops that admin and teachers have to jump through these days the amazing accomplishments get lost in the wash.

  • Feedback for your teachers: Historically teachers have not received feedback, particularly on their achievements. Colleagues can provide each other with Feedback and support recognizing hard work that might otherwise go unnoticed.


Strategy 6: Gaining Mileage to your Message:

The limits of time create short meetings and hurried agendas.  Online blended learning communities allow for further conversation, ideas, and group-think.

  • Extending your message: Why do important agendas end with the physical walls of the school building? The use of online PLC environments can extend the conversation, draw out those who might otherwise not participate, and bring home important announcements and policy changes.

In future posts we will explore each of these strategies in greater detail as well as explore the technical functionality and design involved with online blended learning communities.


6 Professional Development Strategies for Online Learning Communities-2bahlvx



This post was written by Pamoja Education Faculty Advisor John Willoughby

John Willoughby







Download blended learning infograph-15p61vz

December 7, 2016
by Emilia Carrillo

In Memory of Stuart Cipinko – Pamoja Education Psychology Teacher and Faculty Advisor

Stuart was a central person in our community sharing his knowledge, wisdom and support. We will miss him dearly!

Stuart C

A collection of some of his wonderful writing


A collection of thoughts from the community to Stuart and his family


November 4, 2016
by Emilia Carrillo

Don’t miss out on online PD opportunities!!! – What Pamoja Education’s new teachers have to say about their summer training

[Download our “Guide – 5 Free Online Places for Teacher PD” at the end of this post]

As teachers, we have to keep up to date with the ever changing education world. Constant professional development is a must in our endeavor as educators. Pamoja Education teachers go through a professional development course before starting their online teaching, this is what this year’s cohort (2016) have to say about it…

Pamoja Education Online Professional DevelopmentImage credit – Flickr Commons

Pamoja Education Teacher Mary H.

The experience I have had training with Pamoja has been life changing. I came into it with some skepticism about the online education format, but was quickly surprised by how warm and supportive this type of system can be. It has been so refreshing to be a part of this educational paradigm shift. I am looking forward to continued involvement! -Mary H.-


I found thOnlina Pamoja Teacher Joseph Be summer training for Pamoja extremely useful in preparing me for online teaching. While I have used some of the tools under different platforms than Canvas, it was ideal to have all of these resources combined into one central site. Without the training, I do not believe that I would be prepared to adequately meet the needs of our online students as they balance the requirements of both a traditional and digital offering of the IB program. While I expect that there still may be a learning curve when I start my first online class, the training and feedback I received has provided me with the essential knowledge of how classes are delivered via Pamoja. – Joseph B.-


French IB TeacherIt was intense with lots of very useful information. It was also an opportunity to meet experts from different backgrounds and cultures, to talk to them, collaborate, share ideas and thoughts and learn from them. It was also a pleasure building relationships with colleagues. The last 6 weeks were a worthwhile new experience for me, very enriching! It made me think about my teaching style and strategies. I enjoyed all parts of it, the readings, discussions, chats, collaboration and Live lessons. This course will definitely have an impact on me, it will help me grow as an IB teacher making first steps to become an online teacher. Online teaching destroys the geographical barriers site-based schools impose on us as teachers. Thanks to this invaluable experience, I feel like a global teacher, capable of reaching and supporting students and education everywhere. -Amel L-


I am in thOnline IB ITGS Teachere final two weeks of the Pamoja training course, having completed the 6 week starter course and two of the four weeks of the foundation teaching course. All I can say is WOW! Pamoja has come a long way from its early days when it was working with the Virtual High School in the US. How do I know? I was there in the early days and taught one of the first ITGS courses and helped establish and write some of the content and curriculum.

After a few years away, I am glad to be joining back up with Pamoja as I can now see that the technology, the pedagogy and the support structures are all fully in place to really ensure students are successful in their online learning of their IB Diploma courses. The two training courses are now so comprehensive I feel so much better prepared than my first time teaching for Pamoja. Whether it is the Big Blue Button, the chat, the forums, the interactive content – students are going to thoroughly enjoy their experience in the coming years and almost as importantly learn so much for their future lives in their virtual professional careers.

So no excuses now for any student anywhere in the world to not study the best IB Diploma course of all – Information Technology in a Global Society. Just give it a try! -Alan P.-


Pamoja IB online teacherThe Pamoja training course really kept me on my toes! The course was an incredible amount of work and reading, but it was very rewarding, in that I learned so much in the technical realm. I feel that I have a lot of new tools to use in my f2f teaching as well as in the online world. I have had other teachers in my school ask me to give them tutorials on some of the tools we learned in the Pamoja course, such as Jing. I feel that I’m as prepared as I can be for September! -Melisa H.-


This summPamoja Education teacherer I have been lucky enough to take part in the Pamoja training course, learning how Canvas can be used to deliver an online curriculum to students from around the world, representing different countries, different cultures and interests. From the Learner profile to Approaches to Learning, I have been getting up to speed not only with the International Baccalaureate requirements, but also the philosophy and best practices that are employed within the world’s only IB approved online school. Learning how to navigate the BBB was a lot of fun, once I had made 2 – 3 videos and understood how it works and what it looks like for both student and teacher.

Completing all the modules on time, did provide challenges as I did not always have suitable online access due to my summer travels. However the support I experienced was fantastic and whenever I had issues I was supported with understanding, patience and generosity and for that I am grateful.

I am now excited to get started, only then do I feel will I truly get a full understanding of the way the system works. -Steve C.-

IB online teacher


The 6 weeks training course designed by Pamoja is really helpful for teachers who are new to online environment. The course modules take you through the processes and systems followed at Pamoja. The syllabus is wisely devised, giving the opportunities to understand the jargon used at Pamoja and also practice the various tools used by Pamoja teachers. It certainly gave me clarity on the teaching process followed at Pamoja and also the hands-on experience of creating assignments, announcements and conducting conferences. I also got to know about various online tools which can be used to give effective feedback in online as well as f2f environment. The faculty advisors were always available to guide and it really was a big support throughout the training course. -Aprajita V.-


Online educator‘Intense’, ‘thought provoking’ and ‘extremely rewarding’- these three phrases could encapsulate the true essences of my journey through the Pamoja Education Training in last 6 weeks. I was thrown into the ocean of challenges, which initially looked daunting. But as each week progressed by, I found more foothold. I was quite convinced that online education is the future and I wanted to learn more about how online content could be delivered. Over the last 6 weeks, I didn’t only learn the rope of the game, I also have gone through several cut-throat research papers on education, have seen some of the best videos and have skimmed through some of the most well-designed presentations.

I appreciate the prompt responses and feedback provided by the trainers and my wonderful colleagues. PJE faculties showed patience when I had to juggle my time between my IBEN commitments, moving house and family holidays and not being able to submit an assignment on time. Thanks PJE for giving me the opportunity. I am looking forward to delivering the course soon! -Tanusankar C.-


IB teacherThe Teaching Foundation Course provides the opportunity to connect and reflect with our future colleagues, both new and leaders, as we go deeper into the workings of Pamoja courses. It was particularly useful to participate in or listen to the recorded conferences, as that was a great opportunity to be a part of the Pamoja community. Our leaders also used the conferences to give us detailed answers to specific questions — and it’s great to hear a voice with a name.-Kris K.-


Online education traineeThe PAMOJA training gives an extensive knowledge of the web based tools. When I started with the training I was under the impression that whatever I was going to learn would be restricted to the “Online Classroom” but I have learnt a lot of teaching strategies and ideas which would help making the classroom teaching very focused, innovative and interesting.

What came across as a very interesting aspect of the whole teaching was the idea of sharing knowledge and building upon it with the help of your colleagues rather than being on your own. Every week there was something new that I learnt and it’s a great feeling treading a great distance with PAMOJA TRAINING COURSE. -Sonia S.-


The Pamoja Training course 2016 was very well organised, effective and very useful. Although I was familiar with most of the tools, the course has introduced a strategic way of using all of them in order to help the student.Online educator

All the Pamoja colleagues made their best to train us and helped us to feel comfortable during the whole process.

Finally the Canvas environment is perhaps one of the best tools to be used for this specific purpose of online teaching. -George K.-


Pamoja online teacher traineeI found the Teacher Foundation training course to be be very helpful in developing the virtual ‘mindset’ of the teaching environment I will be expected to work in as a Pamoja educator. The course is a simulated class similar to what the students will experience. I found this opportunity to be very helpful. Our advisors held us to similar standards as a Pamoja student with helpful support and check-ins. This modeling got me thinking about my role and responsibilities as a Pamoja educator. The opportunities to practice the tools and interact with colleagues was invaluable as well. -Angelia C.-

IB Educator


I have recently completed the Pamoja Education induction course which I found to be challenging and enjoyable in equal measure. The biggest thing that I took away from the course was the quality of the tools available and their ease of use. I do not claim to be an expert, but I feel that I have all the skills I require to go on and start working with the software on a near daily basis. I find the videos are enormously helpful and I know that help was and is just around the corner, or a few clicks of a mouse anyway. -Christopher J.-


Clara G IB Spanish teacher

Pamoja Education 2016 summer induction course certainly kept us engaged as busy and productive bees. We learned by doing, interacting and modeling from our own instructors. In other words living the XXI century UNESCO Education mandate with innovation for quality and inclusion. Whenever we felt confused, there were always many ways to receive feedback and clarification. If ever we had experienced stage fright, we certainly conquered it by rehearsing or repeating our recorded scripts until we managed our objective. Once the screencasts were published a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction took over. Every bit of information turned out to be worthwhile, especially if our goal is to become online facilitators.

Best six weeks training in a long time: looking forward to the real hands-on adventure with IB students from many different countries! -Clara G.-


yanfen-s I think this course is the best practice of a modern multimedia online learning and teaching course.
Designed with a simple, straightforward with informative video tutorials and explanation that allow students to flow easily between topics and modules, along with the discussion board are some of the best features of this course. Really enjoy the learning experience. -Yanfen S.-



During six weeks of teacher orientation I have seen just how much my novice skills for integrating technology has been revamped and redesigned to that of advanced-beginner for long-term memory storage. The facilitated training was very intense coupled with PJE mentoring was genuine, creative and motivating. But all my deliberations would be for naught if my PJE teachers did not have the patience, availability and open communication dedicated for my success. –Julius W.-


charles-sThe teacher training course is a bit hectic but rewarding, I learnt so many pedagogical skills. Honestly I realized that teaching on line is fun, the collaboration that is facilitated by canvas makes teaching and learning fun. I have always been looking for a way of emphasizing international mindedness, Pamoja and its online education gives me this experience as I will get this information straight from the students coming out of a diversity of cultures. -Charles S.-


I found elisabeth-vvery useful tools for teaching online. The PLC can help us a lot, we can learn from each other. Even if we belong to different subjects. Pamoja has a superb learning environment, to concentrate in teaching the student and not the subject. BBB is an extraordinary way of communication. Being able to use blogs, wikis, etc. can be very helpful for the student to share information, and points of view. The student has to be committed but we have plenty of pathways to engage them. -Elisabeth V.-



I have found the Teacher Training course a real challenge as well as very useful. I managed to complete all the assignments even though sometimes I was a bit overwhelmed by the expectations but as I made it I realized I am a risk taker….I felt had a lot of help and support all though the course and I am very grateful for this.

It was really interesting to be an online student in order to sympathize with my students in the future when I’ll be their online teacher. It gave me a good insight of the difficulties they will encounter.

At the end of the course I felt quite proud and more confident. Thanks for this opportunity. -Myriam I.-


I came igautam-knto the training a tad scared for I was not very comfortable with online education. However, now I feel that this is such a powerful medium for learning. Not only is it more engaging, it also provides a gateway to all the rich digital content that is there on the internet. Besides, the help that one gets from the community is just unbelievable. I never found such camaraderie from men and women in flesh and blood in any of the schools that I taught in. I am really looking forward to welcoming my first batch of students and to having a great year at Pamoja. -Gautam K.-


I have had an extremely busy summer break. At the very last minute I was invited to take part in the 2016 peter-mOrientation for Teaching Online. I had already booked a summer holiday with the family in The Philippines. I spent two weeks searching for cafes on the island of Palawan for an internet connection so I could complete the first 2 modules. Once home I had to start packing, as this summer I changed jobs and moved from Cambodia to China. By the time the orientation course had finished I was living out of a suitcase in a hotel looking for somewhere to live in Shanghai. Just as I settled in Shanghai the 2016 Teacher Foundation Training course started and I found myself working through the modules as I also started work at my new school. I hope the coming months are not as hectic. I look forward to teaching online for Pamoja. I have been an online facilitator for HL mathematics for the past 6 years and have enjoyed mentoring and challenging my peers online. Teaching students will be a big change and it is something that I think will be very rewarding. I look forward to the new Pamoja academic year. -Peter M.-


The Teacher Training course was really effectively organized in all aspects but also very student friendly- in this sally-fcase teacher friendly! It was also well balanced with links to videos and resource materials and each module was carefully thought out and planned and really fulfilled the aim of motivating teachers to this new method of online teaching! It is also designed to facilitate easy reference for later on in the course when further questions may arise. Congratulations to Pamoja for this course which was very productive and inspiring! -Sally F.-



I would like to point out a couple of things that I found most remarkable about the course. One is the technologies that Pamoja uses, which are, in my opinion, state of the art in Education; and the other is the access to a community of practice where teachers (and students) can share and collaborate with peers in the same course, which is not always an easy task in the IB due to its international nature. -Requel P.-


I enjoyed every minute of my training at so many different levels. First of all, the Pamoja team felt like a family. They were thloreto-aere every step we took to help us, support us and encourage us. I felt so supported, welcomed and cared for by all the Pamoja team.

Also, the training gave me the opportunity to get to know tools that will be help students learn better. We were given the opportunity to use these tools and familiarize ourselves with them.
Finally, we were introduced to the expectations on collaboration and communication at different levels.
Thank you so much to the Pamoja team for making this an amazing experience. -Loreto A.-


I started the Teacher Training Program this June, very apprehensive and unsure if I would survive it. I was a hemalatha-rcomputer dinosaur, and very stressed about having to learn new computer skills. Today, we are into the last week of the 10 week course, and I could not be more self satisfied. I am so much more computer savvy now, and the whole process could not have been better. Meeting colleagues from around the world, and working with amazing FAs, mentors and Help Team, what more could I ask for. I started out a hard core believer of f2f teaching, having done it for 20 plus years, but today, I am not so sure, and I may be a convert. The whole learning environment has been encouraging, positive and very collaborative. I am so glad I talked myself into doing it. I think that as a result of this training, I will be able to bring more to my f2f teaching. -Hemalatha R.-


“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

-Dr. Seuss-


Guide Online Prodessional Development for Teachers


Pamoja Education Heads of Departmet Meeting

April 22, 2016
by Emilia Carrillo

2016 Heads of Department Face to Face Meeting in Oxford

It was that time of the year for the heads of departments, located around the world, to pack their bags and head to Oxford for the annual face to face meeting. This year’s meeting was scheduled in March (18-21).

It was very exciting to see everyone during that time. We were caught up with each others’ news, met new staff who joined Pamoja Education during the past year, shared reports about progress in our departments, and most importantly, we heard about what has been happening in Pamoja offices (behind the scenes) and what is to come.

One of the highlights of this meeting, in my opinion, was the future direction of Pamoja Education: being able to provide quality education opportunities, not only to privileged students, but also to those who can’t afford a good education. Mr. Edward Lawless, the School Principal, laid out multiple strategies that are designed to reach the main goal; providing access to quality education to all students!

Another exciting aspect of the meeting was the future plans of the continuous improvement for the platform we are currently using, to provide a better user experience for our teachers, students, and SBCs. The course development team is busy working along with the subject matter experts to give our current courses a new look and feel. The addition of high quality media asset is one example of these changes.

I see Pamoja Education leading the way but not limited to online education, there are so many opportunities for our organization to expand and we are here to go along the adventurous ride!

I leave you with one photo of some of our wonderful HoDs!

Pamoja Education Heads of Departmet Meeting



This post was written by Pamoja Education ITGS teacher and Head of Department Zena Taha

Zena T


IB Online Teaching

March 16, 2016
by Emilia Carrillo

Where in the world…?

One of the major attractions of becoming an online teacher is the flexibility this type of teaching affords us.

The major benefits I see are: we don’t have to physically travel to an educational establishment; we can work at any time of the day or night that suits our lifestyle; the differences in our time zones are beneficial rather than problematic as these differences allow students to access expert teacher response 24/7; we can fit work around our lives rather than lives around our work and we are not constrained by a physical work environment – we are truly melting the classroom walls.

As a veteran Pamoja teacher I have enjoyed a variety of virtual offices and thought I would share with you a recent ‘school’ I worked in…

My office

IB Online Teaching

The view from my office

Online teaching Pamoja education

Some work colleagues

Online education pros

The staffroom

Online staffroom PLC

I would love you to share some images of the places you have been on your Pamoja journey so please upload your images. We could create an amazing global gallery of virtual offices.


Ruth West

Ruth W






February 3, 2016
by Emilia Carrillo

Online Teacher Training and Professional Development at Pamoja Education

Online Teacher Training and Professional Development Pamoja Education

If any of you veteran teachers are at all like me, your memories of professional development and training are most decidedly mixed. I can vividly recall being excruciatingly bored, virulently angry, and/or emphatically insulted depending on whether the presentation (whatever its intention or content) was poorly constructed and or irrelevant to what really mattered in the classroom; was so wrong about fundamental pedagogical truths that only the willfully ignorant could ignore; and/or so superficial and simultaneously condescending that one wondered how the presenter could possibly expect intelligent adults to take seriously what they were being told. I could provide examples from 40 years of classroom experience, but I’m sure you know what I mean.

Teacher training and professional development at Pamoja Education have been very different. I went through my own training in 2010 in a course designed and facilitated by an agency outside of Pamoja Education, and was astounded at how much there was to learn about online teaching, and how attractively that knowledge could be communicated. That astonishment has continued through the iterations of the Teacher Training Orientation and Foundation courses that have been designed and facilitated by members of the Pamoja Education community, culminating in the November Foundation course now in progress for new teachers. My feelings are shared by those at the receiving end of these programs, who responded with comments I had never heard in previous venues:

This orientation course has, by far, been a remarkably well organized and thought-provoking opportunity. Despite the demands of every week, from marking papers to writing reports to staff meetings, I came to find this project as a welcome break. Thank you to all of the facilitators for an excellent job of supporting us.

I just finished the six week course Pamoja Education ( requires for online IB teachers. It was some of the best IB related professional development I’ve done. Does your work bring you into contact with them at all?

I am proud to have been one of those facilitators, but that would not be worth writing about for people who have better things to do. I do think some reflection on why that praise was forthcoming might be useful, and it is focused on precisely those dire characteristics of the more usual PD practice mentioned above.

Pamoja Education teacher training demands that students actually do things rather than simply watch or listen or read. This is, I suppose, an example of differentiated instruction, but it is also, and more importantly, a recognition that teaching is a praxis as well as a practice; it combines theory with action through which that theory is instantiated. So playing games is not enough; nor is listening to a presenter read from the same PowerPoint being looked at. Training that engages people in ways that mirror the complexity of what they are being trained to do is never boring.

Pamoja training makes the research which informs it available to students so that they can draw their own conclusions about what is meaningful and what is merely fanciful. And it encourages candidates to challenge and critically discuss what the research provided claims. The anger and frustration evoked by unsubstantiated or merely incorrect information being presented as true cannot arise when truth is explicitly recognised as negotiable, and research understood as provisionary and open to question. As one person in the summer session insisted: You can prove anything with research; and for that reason, data must be critically considered and conflicts amongst them honestly confronted. The research skills we want our IB students to master must be deployed in the preparation for their instruction.

Finally, Pamoja training treats its participants as intelligent adults who prefer complexity to simplicity, and for whom difficulty is seen not as an impediment to understanding, but as a foundation for it. The discussions in these courses were often riveting exercises in critical thinking because students were provided the time and the space necessary to exercise serious thought rather than the call-and-response so often expected in other PD programs. The online environment makes this necessary, thus demonstrating one of its signal strengths as a learning platform.

What makes good training is the same thing that makes good classroom time: providing the opportunity both to act and reflect, and then to articulate the outcomes of that reflection for others to share and comment on. Good training helps make good teachers better; it’s gratifying to have that fact acknowledged.





This post was written by Pamoja Education Psychology teacher Stuart Cipinko

Stuart C


Image Credit – Flickr Commons

January 21, 2016
by Emilia Carrillo

Growth Mindset in our Pamoja Education IB Courses

Mindset Pamoja Education Online Courses


For the last two years, I have had the honor of being part of the team that facilitates the Teacher Orientation Courses for Teaching Online which, I must admit, it has been one of the most fascinating experiences as an educator for two main reasons: it becomes the perfect “arena” to make connections with our future online colleagues and because, in my personal opinion, it brings us with an additional opportunity to reflect on our own practices and procedures as experience online teachers.

This year, I was particularly focused on Feedback and its impact in our students and colleagues. It is not uncommon to find in our Courses several students and educators new to the studying and teaching/ facilitating in the online environment. We go through the process of becoming familiar with the Learning Management System (LMS) and all our students, teachers and colleagues that will be a participant in our learning. Several of them will join with the uneasiness feeling of lack of previous knowledge or, always popular, insufficient IT skills for learning and facilitating in this new setting. This uneasiness can provoke a predisposed attitude of “I am not sure about this”. This is where Feedback plays such crucial role. Feedback is one of our most important interactions. It serves different purposes such as praise, recommendations for time management and improvement, etc., but, today, I will like to focus on its impact in Mindset.

“Mindset: a particular way of thinking : a person’s attitude or set of opinions about something”

Marriam- Webster Dictionary

Unlike our f2f classes, body language is not part of the communication when giving feedback. In Canvas, our new LMS, we have tools to write or record our feedback and, let’s not forget, screencasts and screenshots. In Pamoja, thanks to moderations and multiple opportunities of Professional Development, we have worked on making our Feedback meaningful and a vehicle to trigger, among our students and PLC, a Growth Mindset.

Is this our aim? It certainly is. We aim to provide Feedback that will help our learners and colleagues to reach their full potential by developing or strengthening skills and mastering content that will help them find a new gear in their learning and repertoire. We make sure that our comments include clear guidelines, options for correcting errors, differentiation, point out those areas where improvement has been observed, etc., and, achieving this in a welcoming and respectful environment where it is evident to all participants that we are commenting on their assessment or production and not the person.

I have had the immense fortune of getting the key question for success: How can I do this better? It goes beyond a grade or collegial observation but a genuine aid to reach mastery and exceed the initial goals. At the beginning of each cohort, as a language teacher, I got plenty of “I am not good with languages” and “I am not sure that this will work”. Through our carefully prepared feedback, our learners begin to realize the possibilities and flexibility of demonstrating their knowledge and skills. It is interesting to see how they reach new goals by dedicating the necessary time to study the complete lesson, practice, and apply their new knowledge with and effective way of connecting content from previous modules.

As educators, with our new model of collaboration, we are fostering a PLC where the feedback is welcome and the opportunities of learning from each other increased exponentially. We are now eager to show our products and practices so that we participate in conversations where we grow together. We are finding ourselves asking “how can I do this better?” and seeking opportunities to continue with our life-long learning and improvement.


This post was written by Pamoja Education Spanish teacher Laura Locker.

Laura L









Image Credit – Flickr Commons

Pamoja education PLC community

November 16, 2015
by Emilia Carrillo

The Countdown to Christmas and the Pamoja Education PLC Community!

Pamoja education PLC community“Hey Miss, it’s only 41 sleeps until Christmas” calls out one of my students at my face to face school as I stand on playground duty sweltering in the heat and humidity of the Australian climate. As I patrol my area I am thinking that this doesn’t feel like Christmas to me and my mind goes back to the cold, dark evenings that led up to Christmas in the UK – how different it is from the experiences of my childhood.

Later the same day I log into to the Pamoja Education Learning Space to see an amazing array of students and teachers from around the world. For all of us there are only 41 sleeps until Christmas but what does this mean for each of us in this international community we work in?

For many, Christmas is a festival celebrated in other cultures, for some, the most important religious event of the year, for others a chance to get together with friends and family. For all of us in the Pamoja Education community the Christmas holiday is a chance to take a break and reflect before starting the New Year and new term.

I don’t know about you, but I have given up making New Year resolutions that I know I am never going to keep. Shockingly I never have competed in a triathlon, I still cannot speak Portuguese and don’t have Grade 8 piano, despite these being New Year resolutions from past years. However, I do still make resolutions but only ones I believe are achievable with the support of those around me.

As members of the Pamoja PLC let’s make a joint resolution…a resolution to create the most international and dynamic learning community that meets regularly, shares expertise, and works collaboratively to improve teaching skills and the academic performance of students.

I will see you in our PLC discussion forums, our PLC blog and our PLC twitter!



This post was written by Pamoja Education Business and Management teacher Ruth West.



Image Credit – Flickr Commons

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