Education Leaders, the World is Calling!


The Chicago Forum on Global Cities wrapped up leaving us with a lot to think about. Although the conversations weaved through a myriad of  topics, there were recurring themes that floated to the top.  Two of those, collaboration and  technology, speak directly to my work as an educator passionate about providing students with the skills needed to navigate in an interconnected, global world. The ability to thrive in a dynamic, often volatile, world economy is the very thing that will make the difference between empowered leaders and mere followers in the global arena. It’s not an either-or with the traditional skills taught, it’s a both-and. It’s a shift of understanding and the leveraging of the technology that many already have in their classrooms. In fact, the Common Core calls this out for us.

The Educating for the Knowledge Economy session of the forum was inspiring.  Overall, it calls us to lift our heads up and to pay attention to where we are heading. I found myself nodding while listening to this world-class panel…yes, yes! But, these are not new ideas in education.

  • Creating cultures of collaboration and trust
  • Fostering creative problem solving and knowledge construction
  • Leveraging technology for collaboration, communication, global understanding

How do we translate these common sense ideas into practice? Many teachers can do that, some can even do that globally with teachers around the world. Others can inspire individual principals. But how do we, as a community, bring that understanding to the foundation of education? That’s where conversations about technology and the global implications need to rest. The real question has always been for me: Are we willing to take our seats and bring our educational conversations there? Our youth are depending on it, and for the most part, as a nation, we are failing them.

There is no single answer since it speaks to the complexity of human beings, but technology is a major player. It is not a silver bullet, but it does hold a key to leveraging the type of skills needed in our classrooms globally. These skills are as close as a computer and a knowledgeable teacher. Using real-world problems to solve, collaborating with peers globally, using global sources  to gain perspective and to construct knowledge…these are all not only possibilities, they are being leveraged by classrooms around the world.

I meet virtually on a monthly basis with educators around the world to discuss these issues and more. This morning, the conversation was around getting this understanding out of pockets of classrooms, and into broader conversation. It’s a topic that comes up frequently. It always comes back to this: As educational leaders, what is driving our conversations? Where are we leveraging our resources?  Are we focused on the right things? I am confident that we have the talent, skill and ability to shift these discussions nationally. I’m just not sure if we can all lift our heads up from the countless demands on our time to create a vision and a map for it.  Our students are depending on our ability to do just that.

You Can Only Grow as Big as Your Container









Our ability to think and work creatively is heavily influenced by our workplace….the size of the container. District size doesn’t matter. What matters is group norms and culture. We can’t always control that in our work environments, but we can expand our container by connecting with expansive thinkers.

Intentionally choosing expansive thinkers as thought partners has been the defining element in my professional life. One way I’ve expanded my container is through work with a global team of educators. We only know what we know, and if we limit ourselves to our own district, we are often just reaffirming what we already think. Our global team was asked to keynote at the recent Global Education Conference.

How big is your container? Mine is as big as the world.

Find the recording for all of the Global Education Conference 2014 here.

Every Classroom Matters

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My Interview on BAM!radio for Every Classroom Matters with Vicki Davis, the CoolCatTeacher.

Dr. Ed Gragert, Craig Perrier and I will be talking about the Lesson For All at the online Global Education Conference on November 18th. Please join us to learn more. You can listen to the short interview on the link below.

Global Competence: Changing How Students Think About and Value Education.

The City that Plays Together, Stays Together!



What do you get when you mix 108 amazing Chicago organizations, 4,204 engaging learning opportunities, passionate leaders, higher education institutions, generous funding organizations, and 400,000 youth of Chicago? The Chicago City of Learning! (CCOL) An explosive convergence of possibility all focused on supporting youth in developing self-directed, interest-driven learning and achievement… that connects that learning to college and career….complete with a rigorous badging system. 

Want to be part of something bigger?

You can feel the electricity  in the room during the planning meetings with the vast array of stakeholders involved in bringing CCOL to the youth of Chicago as a network of support that provides 24/7 access to quality learning. This is personalized learning that covers the entire city…every neighborhood, every street, every learner.  And the city is rising up to support the entire effort.

Check it out. If you don’t live near Chicago, maybe your city could use the template to create something in your area.

Is This Your Year?

‘To have empowered students, we need empowered teachers. To have empowered teachers, we need empowered systems.’

October is Connected Educators Month. Are you ready?


Kids from 17 Countries Send a Message

As educators, we have an amazing ability to connect our kids globally and allow them to see each other, not as strangers to be afraid of, but as other kids much like themselves…with families, video games, favorite books, and hope and dreams. We are one. In these three words lie the stability of our world. Educators hold that power to connect unlike any politician, peace-keeper, corporation or humanitarian organization.

Our Global Friendships. From the USA, Taiwan, Ireland, Canada, Singapore, and Malaysia….as a small group of educators from around the world, we meet monthly on Skype to create a better way to educate our students…and it has evolved into a model for other teachers. We create and plan together, and then we connect our students through our own curriculum. The kids collaborate and learn with their peers around the world.

And what comes of all of that? Well, for us, students who understand the global world we live in, and who understand our fragile interrelatedness. Young people ready to lead our world in volitive and complex times. 

“We are one. We’re how we treat each other and nothing more.”

Global Education Day bursts to life at ISTE 2014

GEC collaboration

Is global education ready to hit a critical mass in our education systems? If today was any sign, it may not be long.

The fifth annual Global Education Day at ISTE 2014 burst to life with a filled-to-capacity room that overflowed into the hallway with educators eager to connect, share and learn. The fast-paced Ignite sessions and animated roundtable discussions stretched around the world and back as we exchanged ideas, resources and contact information.

As Vicki Davis said in her Ignite session: It not just about 21st century skills, it’s 21st century connections.

Read entire post on the ISTE Connects Blog.