“Lessons are not only in the school anymore: they are everywhere, allowing every student to practice and consolidate their learning.” – Maria Jose Sanchez Garcia, Spain
When we first visited Julio Verne Bilingual School in 2012, we learned a lot about how the school was integrating technology to support its unique cooperative learning approach. Three years later, school principal Maria Jose Sanchez Garcia confirms that those efforts continue to pay off.
Maria Jose, whose leadership helped the school become recognized as a Microsoft Pathfinder School, is still innovating with a 1:1 learning approach. “Getting the most out of every student thanks to our methodology (based on cooperative learning) is something I feel very proud of,” Jose says.
Part of getting the most out of students is engaging them in collaborative projects like the Global Enterprise Challenge, a worldwide competition introduced at the 2014 Microsoft in Education Global Forum. For Jose’s students, the challenge has been a thrilling experience. For the school, it also supports an important goal: preparing students for 21st century jobs.
But according to Maria Jose, “The main tool we have [to prepare students for careers] is the wonderful staff in Julio Verne Bilingual School. Our team encourages entrepreneurship and is ready to innovate and to accept the challenges of this ever-changing world we are living in.”
Spoken like a true school leader! Enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Maria Jose Sanchez Garcia.
What inspired you to become an educator?
Since I was very young I have always loved the world of education. I find it a fascinating world of discovery with plenty of new challenges every day. I enjoyed helping my classmates and I’ve even got a very special memory about one of my teachers when I was only a toddler: her way of speaking, her sweetness and always helping the students to get the most out of themselves. Since that very moment I knew that I wanted to be a teacher, I also knew that I would use a different way of educating: more fun, more challenging, more stimulating.
What was a defining moment in your career when you felt proudest to be an educator?
I have always felt very proud of being part of this world. I often think about my first job as a primary teacher. It was a class with children of different ages which was a real challenge. That is when I started to read a lot about education and tried to use the resources that were available to me at the time. I got the students working at different levels with a lot of passion, and — very important — with the help of the families. I sometimes meet some of those students and they still remember that special atmosphere that we were able to create.
Another milestone in my career was when I became principal at Julio Verne Bilingual School, and we got the recognition from Microsoft as a Pathfinder School as a reward for all our efforts over the past few years.
Why do you feel passionate about innovation and technology in the classroom?
Technology plays a very special role in education in the variety of ways it provides students and teachers to improve their motivation of the learning process. The opportunity they have to access the information 24/7 is one of the most important changes in our world. Lessons are not only in the school anymore: they are everywhere, allowing every student to practice and consolidate their learning. Students are playing the main role in this process.
Whether it’s a day-to-day challenge or larger problem, what’s the biggest obstacle you or your country or region has had to overcome, or will have to overcome, to ensure a quality education for students?
I think that schools have to develop their own curriculum to allow it to cater to their students’ needs and strengths.
In terms of education innovation, what are you most excited about for the future? What is your biggest hope for today’s students?
The school has to be a place for learning, creating and investigating — a brilliant minds factory ready to explore new knowledge areas.
That is why it is of the utmost importance to adapt the learning process to 21st century skills and to offer students all the tools they need for an integral education to prepare them for a global world.
What is the best part of the Global Enterprise Challenge so far for your students?
This project is an amazing opportunity for our students. That is why we have joined it. I would say that the main points are:
- Contact with other students in other countries.
- Knowledge of the financial world.
- Personal satisfaction in the recognition for the effort and work when their customers buy their products.
About Maria Jose Sanchez Garcia, Principal, Microsoft Showcase School Leader
Julio Verne Bilingual School
- Birthplace: Valencia, Spain
- Educational background: Teacher and Master’s in Educational Management
- Website I check every day: SharePoint Grupo Sorolla
- Favorite childhood memory: The summer with my parents.
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: OneNote, SharePoint
- What is the best advice you have ever received? The most important person in your life is yourself.