Some of the best teaching moments are really just moments of facilitation. It sure makes teaching sound unromantic but really, we facilitate opportunities for our students to learn and grow. If we work hard, and the facilitation is successful we are happy to watch from the sidelines as our students become the lead actors in the journey of learning and growing.
One of my happiest facilitation moments came when I put one of my students, Alejandro Gómez, here in Guadalajara, Mexico in touch with a friend running a conference in Toronto. My friend, Payam Zarin runs an initiative based out of the University of Toronto, called Beyond Sciences, which offers a platform for scholars from around the world to come together “to promote cultural understanding and academic and personal growth”. Their main event is an International Remote Conference based out of Toronto, which this year included participants from Delhi, India; Poznan, Poland, Kampala, Uganda; and Guadalajara, Mexico among many others.
My student was researching Mexico’s vaccination program for his AP Capstone Independent Academic Paper. Since his research was science and medicine related I suggested he check out BSI and get involved in the conference. I talked to Payam about it and he fully supported the idea and that was my moment of facilitation (okay, I may have sent an intro e-mail, reminded Alex to get his abstract in on time and I checked that Payam received it and I may have done that an annoyingly amount of times along the process but that’s just part of the facilitation follow through).
Alex was the only high school student involved in the conference and up ended up winning the 2017 BioLegend Award for Best Poster Presentation. Here’s Alex’s take on the experience:
Overall, I believe Alex had a great learning experience – he even saw my little sister present her research from Poznan, Poland, where she’s studying medicine from Guadalajara, Mexico at a conference based in Toronto, Canada – and he was able to contribute knowledge on a very international stage, giving him a taste of how powerful research and knowledge can be.
Mindfully seeking moments of facilitation and inspiring our students to take advantage of these kinds of opportunities can really give students a real life learning experience.