Planning International Collaborations
Our middle school spanish teacher and I met with two staff members from Mercy Corps today to lay the groundwork for collaborations between Catlin Gabel students and schools in El Salvador and Guatemala. It quickly became apparent that we have at our disposal so many different options for how to take the first steps in that direction and subsequently deepen the relationships.
Spencer at the Centro Educativo Maya Ixil in Chajul, Guatemala.
Despite our experiences working with schools abroad, we mostly have questions at this time.
When will a satellite-enabled cell phone or laptop modem become affordable enough that we can bring internet connectivity to a remote village in a developing nation and leave it there when we depart? When will video Skype become a standard feature on mobile phones?
When will the numbers of kids in developing countries who are online in social networks reach a critical mass, so that appreciable numbers from an individual school can spontaneously connect with our students? What happens when we realize that students have far more developed competencies for social networks than do the adults?
When should we choose to set up a teacher-teacher professional development relationship with a school rather than going student-student?
Is a highly organized, teacher-led, curriculum-based instruction still the best model for global school-school partnerships? At what point can we turn the leadership of the relationship over to the students, for example by setting up a private social network for the exchange and then letting the kids go at it?
What language-social studies teacher partnerships can we leverage within our school in order to provide both meaningful learning experiences for both second language acquisition and study of world cultures?
How far into our school’s core curriculum does a school’s global education program have to penetrate in order to be successful?
Most of our global relationships are due to the passion and commitment of a single teacher. How does one broaden responsibility so that the school owns the relationship, and it continues after the original teacher departs or alters his/her priorities?
I would add one piece to the last comment about broadening our commitment and having the school steward the relationship as opposed to the individual teacher. I really like the model of individual teachers creating and fostering these international relationships, but we do need some oversight on the bigger picture of how many relationships we can sustain and to which we can dedicate ourselves wholly. Some relationships will naturally form and also end in time. I think this is ok and logical.