clip_image002Alessio Bernardelli teaches in Croesyceiliog School in Cwmbran, Wales, in this blog post he describes his journey with the Innovative Teachers Network programme, how it has transformed his teaching and his views on education as he has developed his own professional learning network.

These are his thoughts…..

Back in 2006, I took part in a Partners in Learning project with Welsh Assembly Government called “Excellence in Science and ICT”, to develop examples of the use of technology in science. At first I thought it would just be about the free software I would receive. But it became clear that this experience was to become an opportunity to learn a lot more than just about some amazing software to use for teaching and learning in the classroom, like Photo Story 3, Photosynth and personal favourite, Plex for PowerPoint. But, it was that contact and discussion with like minded individuals that sparked a series of ideas in my head, it felt like I had been in the darkness until that moment.

In that first meeting my mental framework radically changed and my focus shifted from teaching to learning, from directive lessons to active learning opportunities for my pupils. I felt very blessed in having been chosen to take part to this project. But it was pure luck that I became involved, a chance meeting between a friend of mine and Stuart in a gym, (amazing I know, Stuart in a Gym!). But it lead to a series of events that changed the way I think about my own teaching. I was encouraged to submit one of the resources I created to the UK Innovative Teachers Forum. Even though I am Italian living here in Wales, I had the honour to be chosen to represent Wales in the Worldwide Innovative Teachers Forum 2007 held in Helsinki, to my absolute surprise and joy I received an award there. Thanks to this achievement Microsoft invited me to an Innovative Teachers Event in Redmond, Seattle. There I met even more innovative teachers from around the world and one of the highlights there was meeting Bill Gates. At this event I had the opportunity to participate to seminars and workshops from leading Educators Worldwide. In terms of Professional Development one could not ask for more. But, professional development should not just stop, so I have tried to build my own professional learning network, through the Partners in Learning Network, Twitter and my own blog. This has meant further opportunities to work on other projects and with other organisations, such as the Institute of Physics. As well as contributing to the Partners In Learning Network through projects  as the Innovids Summer Camp and the most recently Peer Coaching Programme.

So, my journey began in a very random way, it could have been so easily an opportunity missed. But, the Partners in Learning Network and its contribution to my own professional learning network has provided the perfect portal to connect with Educators from all over the world. This has transformed my teaching. I have also watched the Partners in Learning Network move forward a great deal. There have never been so many members and the free resources available in the network. The quality of which is increasing every year. Proof is the fact that it is so much harder than when I started to get in the top ten at the U.K. Innovative Teachers Forum. So, I really got there at the right time!

So, what has caused the transformation in my teaching? Quite simply two factors mainly.

1. The great resources available free of charge on the Partners in Learning Network which really open up opportunities for the learners to become more independent in their education

2. The willingness to push the boundaries and try innovative approaches with my classes which I have learnt from the  innovative Educators within the network and beyond.

Thanks Partners in Learning Network for opening my horizons to explore new frontiers.

You can follow Alessio on Twitter at http://twitter.com/asober and follow his Educational Blog at http://alessiobernardelli.wordpress.com/