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Snapshots: March/April 2020

Principal, March/April 2020. Volume 99, Number 4.

Nurturing a Global Mind

Teaching students to be global citizens—or moving them beyond a preliminary understanding of culture—means helping them learn to empathize and form connections with people from all sorts of backgrounds.

In the first study of its scope, a team at Research Schools International examined global competency from 150 Round Square Schools, a global network of public and private schools that have an expressed commitment to global citizenship. From these assessments, researchers identified five learning activities that correlated significantly with the development and enhancement of global competencies such as awareness, respect, self-efficacy, adaptability, attitudes toward immigrants, interest in other cultures, and openness to diversity.

The following are the five learning activities, with tips for implementing them in your school:

1. Volunteering services to help people in the wider community. Before engaging in volunteer work in a community, students need to be aware of the challenges the community is facing and empathize with its members. Service activities should be frequent and allow students to form real bonds with community members.

2. Participating in year-round events that celebrate cultural diversity. Events can range from conferences to holiday celebrations, but they should work to spark curiosity in students and promote respect. Contextualize events so they are part of a larger educational strategy; have a learning goal or objective. Create opportunities for students to become curious about other cultures to create intrinsic motivation for participation.

3. Learning how people from different cultures can have different perspectives on some issues. Offer activities inside and outside the classroom that focus on other cultures, such as international exchanges, diversity clubs, and forums. Provide professional development opportunities to teachers to train them how to support discussions and instruction around diversity and diverse perspectives.

4. Participating in classroom discussions about world events. Set aside time for discussion of what’s happening in the world today. Read news sources from around the world and discuss current events; talk about bias and trust.

5. Learning to solve conflicts. Create activities that promote collaboration and lead to opportunities to resolve conflicts. These activities might include whole-class discussions, Model United Nations, reading and discussing world literature, group presentations, performances, and debates.

Key Takeaways

Consider the amount of exposure students have to other cultures and languages in the school setting, and devise opportunities to expand it.

Students still need structure and context around experiences with other cultures—whether that’s in the existing curriculum or volunteer work. Opportunity for meaningful discussions is key to ensuring engagement.

Conversations around global issues help facilitate meaningful learning. Teachers also need professional development opportunities to ensure they can structure discussions effectively and explore complex and difficult topics around global issues.

This article was adapted from “Nurturing a Global Mind: What Educators Can Do to Help Students Become Global Citizens.” To read the full report, visit gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/20/01/nurturing-global-mind.


Inequities in Advanced Coursework

When black and Latinx students are given the opportunity to take advanced coursework, they excel. So, what’s keeping that from happening? A new report from The Education Trust explores why these students are shut out, how widespread such practices are, and what leaders in education can do to increase these students’ access to advanced learning.

The Barriers

When students miss opportunities to take advanced coursework throughout their K–12 education, it can hinder their success in college and career. These are some of the barriers the report highlighted:

  • Some black and Latinx students attend a school without any advanced courses.
  • Others might attend a school that enrolls too few students in advanced coursework overall or one with inequitable course assignment, meaning black and Latinx students in particular are denied access.
  • In a particular state, problems accessing advanced courses may differ for black and Latinx students.

How Educators Can Help

Identifying barriers is a starting point to enable leaders in education to make real change when it comes to supporting black and Latinx students. The report outlines five things leaders can do to make a difference:

  • Set clear, measurable goals for advancing access to, and success in, advanced coursework, and commit to publicly measuring state and district progress toward those goals.
  • Use data to identify the barriers that prevent students of color and students from low-income backgrounds from enrolling in advanced courses.
  • Invest money to expand advanced coursework opportunities in schools serving the most black and Latinx students.
  • Expand eligibility and increase access so that black and Latinx students have a fair chance to take advanced coursework.
  • Provide sufficient support for students to prepare for advanced coursework and for their success once they are enrolled.

Read the full report, “Inequities in Advanced Coursework,” at The Education Trust’s website, edtrust.org/resource/inequities-in-advanced-coursework.


My Two Cents

What are a few telltale signs that a student is suffering from depression or anxiety?

Jay Nichols (@jaynicholsvpa): The key is to know your students well. When students act differently than their norm, that can be a sign. Making sure every kid is strongly connected with at least one adult is key to making sure students feel supported and safe.

Michelle Fortunado-Kewin (@mfktherapy): I make sure that the @CrisisTextLine info is in different locations at the school, such as bathrooms. Students are more likely to text for support than ask IRL (in real life).

Erica Natalicchio (@EricaMcCabe4): Fight, flight, or freeze! Some students may elope from the classroom or building, [and] others may hide under the desk (flight), put their heads down/sleep (freeze), or become angry and defiant (fight).

Chris Wooleyhand (@principal64): Changes in behavior, attendance, peer relationships, demeanor, willingness to engage in discussion.

Want to connect with your peers? Contribute to the converation by following @NAESP on Twitter.


Copyright © National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP's reprint policy.

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