The Future of Learning is Inclusive
In May 2020, I had the honor of speaking on the Toddle TIES Future of Learning panel. I shared my thoughts on the ideal scenario for inclusive learning within international schools, and the steps we can take to make it a reality. This is the story I told:
I am from a small town in the US that wasn’t well-known outside our corner of the world — that is until a Hollywood movie was filmed 30-minutes away. This was a major life event for me as a kid, and I still think about it often.
The movie was called Field of Dreams and starred Kevin Costner; some of you might remember it.
Kevin Costner’s character believes he needs to build a baseball field in the middle of an Iowa cornfield. He hears a voice seemingly coming from the clouds telling him, “If you build it, he will come” and “go the distance.”
Local newspapers and nightly newscasts frequently overused these lines to describe the most mundane activities, and they’ve stayed with me. Most recently, the line “go the distance” got me thinking about the future of our schools.
Going the Distance for Our Students
Our job is to “go the distance” for students by creating real-world learning environments that are true representations of the individuals in our global community.
Environments in which we make social-emotional learning a priority.
Environments where all types of learners are represented.
Environments connected from school to school, so students’ stories aren’t lost.
We have consistent curriculums across our schools, but we have not yet solved the full scope of needs for globally mobile families. It is our duty to serve all students and, in doing so, create globally mindful graduates who have been educated in an environment that is representative of the real world.
The future of successful schools will include comprehensive learning environments that support learners who fall outside of the general education bubble. These schools will consist of students from all ranges of ability and backgrounds, not just children who fit the standard mold.
3 Steps to More Inclusive Schools
The process of creating inclusive schools involves building alternative pathways that cater to all learners and not just those who can manage the IB or IGCSE exams. We can achieve this in three steps:
1. Set a common language within each school for SEN and transitions.
2. Bolster all tiered learning support programs and create more intensive needs programs so families can send all of their children to the same international school.
3. Include a common mechanism for sharing information so that students’ stories aren’t lost when they move from one school to the next.
Creating a globally-minded international school system that focuses on the needs of all students requires buy-in from the entire school community (including administration, management, teaching assistants, teachers, parents, and students) and a culture where everyone is valued. Most importantly, we need to make its development a priority.
It will take courage, compassion, and innovation to create the inclusive international schools our world needs, but it’s worth it. Building these schools is one way we can prepare all students for a more inclusive and diverse world – and after all, I’ve always believed that if you build it, they will come.
If you’re looking to build inclusion in your school, or navigating the international school system with a child with unique learning needs, I’m here to help — Let’s chat.
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