October 27, 2015

Global Education Forum builds connections between educators

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Educators from across the country and around the world gathered at Penn this month to explore how schools can help their students become engaged global citizens.

The two-day Global Education Forum allowed educators to learn from one another, with an ultimate goal of developing a vibrant education ecosystem for teacher learning, said Mike Johanek, director of the Penn GSE’s Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership.

Every society educates children, Johanek said, and some teaching concepts are universal. Other approaches are rooted in a place or a culture, but can be translated across the globe. The forum, Johanek said, is “a place where we can have a conversation” about how different ideas can compliment one another.

This year, the forum expanded as part of a co-sponsorship between the Mid-Career Doctoral Program and the Asia Society. The event drew about 370 educators from 28 states and 15 countries, including Fullbright Teacher fellows recruited by the U.S. State Department. Educators spent the time looking for ways to broaden their students’ understanding, Wiley said.

“We hope that this is the beginning of an ongoing dialogue among educators around the world to continue to learn with and from one another about what works in preparing students for a global society,” said forum co-chair Brandon Wiley.

The forum featured panels on global education practices, meet-ups for teachers to trade stories and approaches, and IGNITE-style talks.

“How can we help students understand their place in the world, the issues that face us as a global society, and how they can upon those issues to make the world a better place,” Wiley said.

Understanding that teachers across continents in a myriad of ways, this year, organizers also expanded social media outreach during the forum, and are working to post a series of podcasts based on Q&A sessions with key speakers. The discussions went well beyond pedagogical approaches, with panels on technology, water rights, student safety, and student voice.

“By discussing globally significant issues, we can begin to bring a purpose to learning,” Wiley said. “One of the key tenets of developing a globally competent student is that they see themselves as an actor in the world, that they can take action to make a difference in the world, either locally or globally.”

Events like the forum, Johanek said, create bonds between educators that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Over time, they can develop into an ecosystem of teachers and student that can work together to tackle significant problems.