4 Takeaways from Global Leadership Week

Posted by: Mark Otter, Chief Operating Officer at VIF International Education

June 2nd, 2016

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Global Education is more popular than ever, and district and school leaders are essential in providing sustained and equitable solutions. In April, Lucy Gray and Steve Hargadon co-hosted hosted the first Global Leadership Week Summit at Edmodo in San Mateo, California, to examine what this form of leadership looks like. Three panels (videos below) explored how technology, exchanges, parents, community outreach, student voice and choice, and other strategies and tools support global education for all students. Throughout those thoughtful discussions, panelists identified four key steps successful global education leaders take:

Step 1. Leaders Create Value.

The panelists unanimously agreed that society is going to be more multicultural, multilingual, and interconnected, not less. Successful district and school leaders need to convey this to their constituents and create a sense of value. Not only value in the approach to global ed, but also in the structure of how it will be executed. Global education doesn’t thrive if it isn’t valued. Global education cannot be perceived as something that is an “add-on” or “more on a teacher’s plate,” a weekend program, or a course only done when a teacher “has time.” Global education should be woven into the look and feel of schools through varying levels of design and instruction. When this happens, opportunities to celebrate students’ family heritage and to interact with peers from other cultures occur organically and regularly.

Step 2. Leaders Set Expectations.

Effective leaders make global education a part of school culture, and set the curriculum expectations students and parents will have. Panelists emphasized the need for time for teachers to collaborate and ask questions. Often times teachers are afraid to admit they don’t know what they are doing, and leaders need to reassure teachers that global integration is a learning process. Effective leaders don’t force teachers to make choices between global and core content. Rather they integrate, reframing global learning as an opportunity to enhance what teachers are already doing and want to do. Global education becomes intentional, purposeful, and engaging– a lens through which to view the “why” of project-based learning, coding, or making.

Step 3. Leaders Distribute Responsibility.

Once global education is valued and expectations are set, what do district and schools do next? Distribute responsibility. Without a clear plan of action or designated roles and duties, global education will fall by the wayside. We all know that administrators and teachers are overwhelmed, but global education, by its nature, shouldn’t be extraneous work. While distributing responsibilities, it is also important to offer resources to educators for collaboration because global isn’t meant to be taught or learned in a vacuum or a silo. While most only think of teachers or educators to distribute responsibility to, it also has the ability to empower students to be leaders and creators in their learning, so be sure to include student leaders in the process.

Step 4. Leaders Define Success.

A fourth point made by panelists: there has to be a strategic plan, supported by leadership, that defines success. Each teacher, school and district will most likely define success differently, but clearly stating what you consider as successful in your school is a positive step in the right direction. But, if schools and districts have an answer to what defines student success, and this answer doesn’t include global competencies, then that becomes problematic. In your definition of success make sure it’s inclusive of all students, and don’t be afraid to publicly define it to parents and the surrounding community as well.

Global Leadership Week participants are thrilled to continue the conversation at Global Education Day at ISTE in Denver June 25, as well as at the Global Education Forum in Philadelphia, Oct 13-15. Momentum is growing for global education and district and school leadership is critical for providing equitable opportunities for all teachers and students to be global-ready. Thanks again to the Edmodo team for hosting and Lucy Gray and Steve Hargadon for leading the event. 

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