As our world becomes more interconnected, Adrienne Henck, the Director of Global School First, emphasizes the importance of global education, inclusive school culture, and empowering students to play an active role in their schools and communities.
In her post, Henck highlights the importance of school leaders setting a mission and vision to foster a positive and inclusive school culture, as well as providing opportunities for students to talk about important issues and consider different perspectives.
From Education Week:
One area is particularly critical—school leaders who are able to effectively support the promotion of a global school culture that is democratic and inclusive. When students can voice their opinions, feel a sense of belonging, and play an active role in their school and community, these are the most powerful influences for feeling like they can make a difference in their world. These lived experiences as part of school life are what guide them on their journey to become global citizens. Indeed, developing a global consciousness is not simply a matter of learning, it comes from how we act and perceive the world. It’s a mindset, one that must be embedded throughout a school’s culture.
Extracurricular activities: Extracurricular means extra (inter)connections.
Participation in extracurricular activities helps students to develop the skills of global citizenship and fosters a culture of inclusion at the school level. Students have the opportunity to explore shared interests with others that they might not connect with in the classroom, and these interactions help to form more diverse peer networks. Students also learn to work with others toward a common goal whether its winning a sports competition, completing a community service project, or organizing a club event.
Participating in extracurricular activities is especially important for immigrants and other marginalized groups. Research shows that although immigrant students don’t participate in extracurricular activities as much as other students, when they do they benefit in terms of forming connections with others, developing their identity, and feeling a sense of belonging to a community. Intentional efforts by teachers to encourage immigrant students to join activities that align with their interests are key to fostering a more inclusive school community.
School-community relationships: Change your community, change the world.
Just as the proverbial pebble creates ripples in the water, change often starts with the actions of a single person in a single place. Engaging with individuals and institutions in your community helps students learn about the place where they live and how it is connected to other places both near and far. It also has the potential to effect positive change when schools and the community work together to address shared issues. Students gain efficacy and feel that they can make a difference in their world. School involvement in the community also gives students the chance to interact with adults beyond their family, which is important since students often model their civic identity after adults they are close with.
Along with your students, take a look outside your classroom and see what’s going on in your immediate community. What’s happening, how might things be better, and who is doing something about it? School-community partnerships can be with any institution beyond the school, including other schools, businesses, local government, universities, service providers (e.g., hospitals, police department), and places of religious worship. You may even engage with schools in other countries, state/province or national governments, or international non-governmental organizations. But keep in mind that you don’t have to go far to change the world. Change starts with you and me, right here and right now in our own communities.