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.
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.
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.”
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.
Dr. Ed Gragert, Craig Perrier (via Skype), and I leading a session on the Lesson For All, a set K-12 units focused on the right of education and the barriers that youth around the world experience when trying to access that right.
VUCA. Anthony Jackson, Vice President of the Asia Society, introduced the Partnership for Global Learning conference with his view of world we are living in. VUCA: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. With dynamic world leaders like Dr. Tererai Trent, the conference plenary keynote speaker, we are challenged to look beyond barriers to prepare our students for a VUCA future. Born in Zimbabwe and denied an education, Dr. Trent went on to earn her PhD and now challenges us all to see: It is achievable.
A couple take-aways from this empowering conference:
Columbia University is offering a graduate level certificate for educators called GCC, Global Competence Certificate. Teachers College, Asia Society PGL and World Savvy are the collaborating partners.
Leadership is action and not position (Dr. Trent)
3 major shifts in the Common Core ELA Standards if we look beyond the controversy (Maryann Woods-Murphy in Making the Shift to Global Content Using Big Ideas)
Building knowledge though content rich nonfiction
Reading, writing, and speaking & listening grounded in evidence from text, both literary and informational
Regular practice with complex text and its academic language
Avoid the risk of the single story by offering a variety of viewpoints and perspectives (Woods-Murphy)
There are amazing schools leading the way into the VUCA world. Check out the International Social Studies School Network, ISSN.
I have been part of the moment toward empowering our students though global understanding for years… and for the first time, I felt that we as an education system were really starting to see the value and act.
Information on the Lesson For All, the presentation we did in the photo above, can be found here. I have written posts about it the past, they can be found here, LFA.
‘The Asia Society Partnership for Global Learning annual conference is dedicated to preparing students to be globally competent and ready for college. The event connects educators, business leaders, policymakers and resource providers to share best practices, build partnerships and advance policies to ensure the next generation is ready to lead in an interconnected world. ‘
Nearing the end of the fast paced, often crazed, multi-layers of multitasking…planning and grading, teaching and re-teaching…what is it that kids remember of their school year with you? What do they find meaningful and lasting from your time together?
It’s worth stopping to see, because it’s the glue that holds all the rest together.
I had that opportunity when Mrs. Patterson, a retired teacher, took over my 5th grade class when I went to a meeting. She had my students write me a thank you/memory letter. And just what is it that really made an impact after our nine months together? The hours spent putting together that cool project? Those math lessons taught three different ways until they all got it? No…my black boots with the blue zippers!
Here is one comment pulled from each letter.
I like when you freak out when something good happens.
You are not grumpy, like if someone says a word to you, you won’t shout “GET BACK TO YOUR SEAT!!!”
I still remember the bunch of times you said, “I can’t follow you around your whole life.”
You played a huge role in teaching us how to be good human beings and the ways that we can do that.
I truly didn’t even know what a web 2.0 tool was before this year.
You aren’t so quiet and boring. You are kind of loud actually.
I think that you are funny, and I love that about you.
I let my brain run free and have a say!
You know how to keep people going, and you don’t give up on yourself. I never gave up because of you.
You always make it seem like we are a team
I loved watching Carl on CNN Student News.
You always like to swing at recess.
I love being able to do stuff that my sister, brother, dad, and mom can’t do on the computer!
You are very funny, but in a good way. Thanks for making us laugh.
Our classroom feels like home to me.
I love blogging, can we still do it over the summer too?
You have great taste of style! I love your black boots with the blue zippers.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard of some of the places in the world that we worked with or skyped.
Even though you won’t be there personally, you will always be with me.
Well, I only have a minute to gather my life and get to the bus so…THANK YOU!
Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.
Does knowing this help me with all of the work ahead for next year? No…but it sure puts things in perspective. You may want to give it a try before they’re gone for the year.