Superintendents in the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools are some of the most forward-looking and innovative district leaders in the United States, committed to pursuing innovative methods to improve opportunities and outcomes for students — from competency-based education, to personalization for all students, to maker learning.
One area where many League districts are focusing is global learning: helping students understand the complexity of an interconnected world, communicate effectively across lines of difference, and take action on local and global issues.
During Global Leadership Week this year, we sat down and talked about the priority of global learning with three League district superintendents: Eric Williams, Superintendent at Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia; Linda Clark, former Superintendent at West Ada School District in Idaho; and Ned Kirsch, Superintendent at Franklin West Supervisory Union in Vermont. All three panelists have both rich personal histories with international engagement, and deep commitments to global learning.
Through the conversation, three major themes emerged.
1. Global learning is authentic, student-driven, and relevant.
All three panelists described the importance of rooting learning in real, relevant global issues. In Ned Kirsch’s district, for instance, students learn about environmental issues affecting their local community as well as many others around the world, and take direct action to make a difference. Eric Williams and Linda Clark both gave examples of student-driven initiatives that help create a sense of buy-in among a whole community, including parents.
2. Global learning benefits from a deliberate culture of innovation in a district.
Giving educators the freedom to innovate can help allow global learning to flourish, like in Linda Clark’s former district, which has long invited teachers to build their own professional learning plans. Eric Williams’ district invites educators to participate in creating shared goals and milestones along with district leaders.
3. Global learning is integrated across the curriculum, including standards.
Global, project-based learning shouldn’t be an “add on” — and in fact, panelists agreed, it is less effective when viewed that way. Rather, it should directly connect with district curricular goals. In Ned Kirsch’s district, for example, part of the district’s action plan involves engaging community partners. The district decided to deliberately expand the definition of “community” to include engagement with local, regional, and global partners.
Watch the whole panel recording here, including panelists’ reflections on equity, global learning in rural districts, and what’s next in their district roadmaps.
If you know an educator, school, or district whose efforts in global learning should be highlighted, submit it to the Global Story Map!