International Friendship Day need not be reserved for a special time slot in the calendar. Internationalism - with all of its diversity, cultural richness and opportunities for vibrant community and world connections - is intrinsically linked to our everyday existence. It is the thread which creates potential for a dynamic tapestry of multi-disciplinary learning across schools and communities. It combines our own uniqueness with an interconnection of beautiful perspectives on what it is to be human in an outward looking, forward-thinking, inclusive world.
When we help our learners to become global citizens - to see themselves as players in a universal team that plays for the world, where everybody matters, where diversity is celebrated and where there is cultural respect and understanding - we open doors to real everyday international friendship. Here, we support the development of many important skills, including empathy, curiosity, courage, confidence, tolerance and creativity, skills which are key to unlocking and unleashing present and future potential for a peaceful, unified planet. In fact, these skills were manifest in abundance during the recent Thailand cave rescues, where a whole host of people came together from across the world with a common purpose; to share expertise in order to rescue the boys and their coach who were trapped. Hope and trust led to a very successful internationally cooperative operation in which any differences were irrelevant to the combined humanity of the group.
The following ideas are not exhaustive and are merely suggestions. They may well have occurred in your school already - if so, you can no doubt supplement them to support reflection and dialogue about your school’s internationality and interculturality. I am also making mention of UNESCO’s Rethinking Education: Towards a Global Common Good here, as it is a very insightful read and certainly gave me as a teacher, learner and citizen of the world much to think about.
We need not look far to unearth international gold in our schools and communities. There will always be young people, colleagues and families with direct or indirect connections to different countries, diverse nationalities, languages and invaluable cultural stories. By embracing these naturally occurring opportunities, learners can gain international perspectives in their own local contexts and see that their worlds are interconnected. They can also learn to celebrate and embrace diversity and differences.
Thanks to @kkidsinvt and @JenWilliamsEdu for pushing me to dive back into school stuff with the #MicrosoftEdu Teaching Sustainable Development Goals course! #CelebrateMonday #TeachSDGs https://t.co/hcYx5xmWYQ via @MicrosoftEDU— Sara Holm (@SaraHolm15) August 6, 2018
While historically or traditionally, international education was perhaps more associated with cultural study trips abroad, exchanges, or with the languages department, today’s international is not abroad or confined to one particular curricular area. International is here, and there, and you, and me, and them. Our world is composed of a series of international experiences we may not recognise at first. They are in our food, where it comes from and how it arrives, they are in our shops, our art, our music, our words, our films, our books and our everyday exchanges and our friends. We are all international, but to develop an international mindset and outlook in our learners, we as teachers can contribute in our own contexts every day and everywhere. We can help our society towards a more equitable, tolerant, kind and accepting world by actively supporting our learners to develop into and to see themselves as dedicated global citizens.
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I write this at the start of April, whilst enjoying a view some may call “paradise”: sat on Long Beach, in Pulau Perhentian Kecil, with the South China Sea lapping up against my toes. It’s been a well-needed ‘switch off’ after the last three-to-six months (the last three in particular). The added benefit of five days without working WiFi was not lost on me. Whilst naturally there were those who worried about my radio silence, being blissfully ignorant of literally everything going on outside of a 1km stretch of beach has been quite refreshing! So how has this benefited me as an international educator?
I write as we head towards the business end of yet another academic year, it is somewhat scary when the realisation hits that I am also coming to end of my first two years as an international educator. With this also comes the clarity that the students whom I have been responsible for teaching over the last cycle are now also coming to the end of their courses, and the inevitable terminal exams.
How can teachers and leaders take advantage of what’s beyond their schools’ walls? In the Innovate My School Guide 2018/19, an eclectic selection of educators share their own community-oriented successes - here’s a sneak peak...
‘Powerful professional learning helps children succeed and teachers thrive’ is the first message on the front page of the Teacher Development Trust website. Yet when we look at other countries that are seen as successful at education, commentators often focus on issues such as their culture (Finland or Estonia), teaching methods (‘Chinese Maths’ in Shanghai) or use of external tutoring (Japan or South Korea).
Sue Cowley is a teacher, author, presenter, traveller, presenter and chair of a preschool committee, which she has helped to run for eight years. Given that Sue has enjoyed a wealth of international experiences across her career so far, we sat down to discuss behaviour, travel, being an author and more.
This article will look at my transition from UK Secondary SLT to becoming an international school educator. Having spent over 10 years working in UK education, with a wide experience-base of whole school, pastoral and SLT responsibilities in different school contexts, as well as two concurrent school governor roles, the following outline pattern may paint a familiar picture to many other senior educators out there:
I tweet and blog a lot about my network and how being an outward-facing leader who is connected to a wider educational community fuels me. It the last few years - through Twitter, StaffRm, #womened and now #bameed, through #teachmeets, #leadmeets and #researched - I have met a plethora of fantastic educational contacts who have inspired me, empowered me and connected me. Through these connections I have ended up meeting brilliant educators and collaborating on some fantastic projects. These collaborations have reignited my passion for my profession.
At Nottingham Girls’ High School we have a great reputation for presenting extraordinary opportunities which have the potential to take our students to a whole new level of confidence and achievement. As head of Outdoor Learning, it’s my job to inspire a love for the outdoors and a passion for exploring it in our girls and support them in that process, creating new and exciting opportunities for them.