“We are becoming the world’s citizens!” – Johnson Monari, Kenya
Teacher of English Language & Literature and Theory of Knowledge
Aga Khan Academy Mombasa
Just a year into his teaching profession, MIE Expert Johnson Monari was feeling bored. He had heard about the Microsoft Educator Community as an online educators’ platform, so he signed up with the intention of making strides toward transformative teaching.
“I started using online collaborative tools, and at first things did not work out,” Monari tells us. “At one time, my lesson was being observed by the vice principal and I wanted to really show that I was using technology. Students were working online and they unfortunately lacked netiquette and kept deleting their colleagues’ work. This made the class chaotic and the lesson fell apart.”
But that experience didn’t dissuade Monari from his dream of becoming a more innovative educator. Instead, he gradually learned how to make tasks more authentic and to create more meaningful and smaller task-oriented groups.
“I took risks and introduced some tools like OneNote, Sway, and even a class blog,” Monari says. “Teaching and learning became more interesting, especially when we started connecting with classrooms across the world through Skype. From the Microsoft Educator Community, I can quickly find innovative educators from any part of the world and Skype with them. Learning has gone beyond the barriers of my classroom walls and we are now working on doing collaborative projects with students from two different continents. We are becoming the world’s citizens!
One recent “lesson hack” Monari created required students to learn persuasive language. They worked in groups of three to design an authentic advertisement of their choice with at least four advertising techniques which would persuade their target audience. The students could advertise an existing product or service in an entirely new way or create their own product. The ad had to be catchy, concise, comprehensive, and convincing. The final product was a video clip of no more than 120 seconds. They then prepared presentations analyzing their own work with a maximum of eight minutes to critique the purpose, techniques used, and the target audience.
Monari’s teaching has changed since those first days of joining the Microsoft Educator Community. Even so, he acknowledges there are challenges that need to be overcome. “Instead of setting the pace, it seems like teaching and learning have to catch up with our dynamic society,” he tells us. “Students learn a lot about the past and the present, but they are not being involved adequately in creating the future. This is a tragedy!”
About Johnson Monari
- Educational background: Bachelor of Education, Masters in Project Planning and Management
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: Skype in the Classroom
- What is the best advice you have ever received? Great teachers are great learners.
- Website I check every day: https://www.ted.com/
- Favorite book: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie