I was honored to be asked to speak on the Toddle TIES Future of Learning panel in May 2020. What follows here is the story I told...
I am a small-town girl from the US. As a kid, it was a major life event when a Hollywood movie was filmed 30-minutes away from my hometown. The movie was called Field of Dreams and starred Kevin Costner, some of you might remember it.
In the movie, Kevin Costner’s character believed he needed 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”.
These movie lines were frequently overused in local newspapers and nightly newscasts to describe the most mundane of activities, yet the quotes are still part of me and can add meaning to an appropriate topic like the Future of Schools. Most recently the line “go the distance” got me thinking about the future of our schools. It is our job to “go the distance” for our students by creating real-world learning environments that are true representations of the individuals in our global community. Learning environments in which we make social-emotional learning a priority. Learning environments where all types of learners are represented. Learning environments that are 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 of our 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 include students from all ranges of ability and backgrounds, not just children who fit the standard mold.
The process of creating inclusive schools means creating alternative pathways that cater to all learners and not just those who can manage the IB or IGCSE exams. The first step should be to set the standard that every one of those schools has a common language for SEN and transitions. The second step should involve bolstering all tiered learning support programs and creating more intensive needs programs so families can send all of their children to the same international school. Finally, strong transition programs that include a common mechanism for sharing information should become the norm so that students’ stories aren’t lost when they move from one school to the next.
This vision requires buy-in from the entire school community including administration, management, teaching assistants, teachers, parents, and students, and takes a culture where everyone is valued. Most importantly, in order to create a globally-minded international school system that focuses on the needs of all students, we need to make its development a priority. It will take courage, compassion, and innovation to create the inclusive schools of the future, but “If you build it, he will come”.