The ultimate goal of any school improvement plan is to pave the way for students to be career-ready and successful in a global marketplace. If you weave a global focus into your school improvement plan, you’re intentionally making global competitiveness your why.
Indistar identifies these essential functions that leadership teams need to keep in mind as they create school improvement plans:
- School leadership and decision making
- Curriculum, assessment, and instructional planning
- Classroom instruction
- Personalized learning
- Family engagement
That’s a lot for schools to consider, and it can be challenging to see how these diverse puzzle pieces fit together. A school may have to implement multiple initiatives adopted by the district yet be at loose ends when it comes time to integrate them as part of a cohesive plan.
A school improvement plan designed with global competitiveness in mind can weave a common thread into each of these core functions. It is this thread that provides a compelling why to the entire school community, from students to parents to teachers: helping students develop global competencies which will help them be competitive in the global marketplace. Participate Learning’s Global Leaders partners are aligning their school improvement plans to a global focus across all five Indistar functions and are seeing positive implications for the school community as a whole, from increased parent and teacher engagement to community support.
The Profile of a Global Leader is a handy resource for schools to consult as they strive to ensure students develop the skills they need to be successful in school and beyond. You can imagine how using a resource like this could promote global readiness and bring a unique and powerful focus to a school improvement plan. Classroom rules and procedures could be built around the same global competencies outlined in the resource above.
Let’s see what designing a school improvement plan with global competitiveness in mind looks like.
Curriculum, assessment, and instructional planning
One of Indistar’s effective practices is developing standards-aligned units of instruction. A school improvement plan developed with student global competitiveness in mind prioritizes the infusion of global elements across the curriculum. Researcher Ariel Tichnor-Wagner mentions the complex factors that come into play when doing this work: “Fostering global competence in students requires a pedagogical shift in how learning takes place in schools and a dispositional shift toward situating oneself, students, and community in an interconnected web of local, national, and global affiliations.”
Global Leaders prepares teachers to design rigorous learning experiences that foster global competence, which helps to bring about that pedagogical shift. This shift comes about when teachers incorporate global teaching practices in their planning and teaching.
Using the UN Sustainable Development Goals to drive this kind of action-driven learning fosters a sense of purpose in students and teachers alike because it focuses everyone on how to apply academic skills to tackle real world problems. This approach increases teacher and student engagement and agency.
It’s not surprising that Indistar has a long list of effective practices in the area of classroom instruction. Here are a couple of them:
- The school promotes social/ emotional competency in school rituals and routines, such as morning announcements, awards assemblies, hallway and classroom wall displays, and student competitions.
- All teachers establish classroom norms for personal responsibility, cooperation, and concern for others.
When you take a look at the Global Leaders school-wide behavior matrix below it is easy to see how it supports those effective practices in terms of social-emotional learning, classroom norms, personal responsibility, and community/family connections:
School leadership and decision-making
Distributed leadership is at the heart of any school improvement plan. Why is this so? This approach to leadership ensures buy-in and a shared commitment to the plan and its implementation. Investing in teachers and their professional growth must also be at the core of school improvement plans. Indistar identifies distributed leadership as a key effective practice in the area of school leadership and decision making:
- The principal develops the leadership capacity of others in the school.
Because of the essential role of distributed leadership in leading change, it is embedded in how we work with schools who have adopted our Global Leaders framework. A leadership team known as a global committee creates a vision for global learning in their building, with the support of a Participate Learning Strategy Coach. This committee often overlaps with the School Improvement Team, and the goals of the school improvement plan and the implementation of global are strongly aligned. Since a global framework implies a new way of teaching, learning, and community and staff engagement, it’s important to build your team’s capacity by allowing them to be learners first. Their preparation might include an investigation of global teaching practices or integrating global competencies into individual classrooms as well as the whole school community.
The investment in their learning will pay off as they develop a deeper understanding of the value of a global focus and feel empowered to lead their peers. They will be ready to help design a plan that reflects the strengths, needs, and areas of growth of the teachers they’re leading. This kind of capacity-building is like planting seeds that will help your plan take root and flourish in your building.
Last but not least, successful schools cannot exist without supportive – and supported – families. For true family engagement to happen, parents and caregivers need to feel that they belong to a community that welcomes them regardless of their background, home language, or family situation. Anchoring your school improvement plan to a global focus will do just that.
With respect to family engagement, here are some of the focus areas identified by Indistar:
- Professional development programs for teachers include assistance in working effectively with families.
- The school provides parents (families) with practical guidance to model and encourage respectful and responsible behaviors.
The Participate Learning Global Leaders schools that adopt a global framework often report an uptick in parental engagement and involvement. Why is that so? Having a global framework in your school means that communication, empathy, flexibility, and valuing differences are among the principles that guide everything you do. Applying these global competencies to the ways in which you engage parents and other stakeholders will help them feel more connected to the school community–and connection drives engagement.
Creating a school improvement plan is complex work. When you use a global framework to pull all the pieces of your plan together into a coherent whole, not only do you streamline the planning process but you inject new energy and a renewed sense of purpose into your school.
Click here to learn more about Participate Learning’s Global Leaders framework and how it might help your team design a just-right school improvement plan. Then connect with Participate Learning on Twitter to see more examples of global learning in action.