Global Learning-More than Just Checking a Box

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Mark Twain


Upper School students visit Peru during a language immersion trip.

Representing the Baldwin School, Kelly Schonour, Assistant Lower School Director, and Cindy Lapinski, Middle School Director, had the opportunity to participate in a conference hosted by the Holton-Arms School outside of Washington, D.C., on September 29-October 1. This conference, Global Gathering: Pedagogies and Passports, invited educators to think about how to infuse global learning in a meaningful way both inside the classroom and beyond. The two attended a number of different workshops, led by speakers as well as participants. One of the most interesting experiences of the weekend was the “un-conference” sessions. These informal sessions were created and led by participants based on certain elements of Global Learning that they wanted to explore further through critical conversation.

Ms. Schonour participated in the “un-conference” about Global Learning in Elementary Schools. The discussion group consisted of teachers and administrators who were looking to share ideas about what global learning looks like for younger students.  Success stories as well as ideas that did not work were shared. One of the most helpful ideas that stemmed from the conversation was that each school is different and needs to define global learning in a way that complements their mission.

Ms. Lapinski attended one of the “twin workshop” sessions focused on authentic assessment. Defined by Jon Mueller, authentic assessment is “a form of assessment in which students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills.” Educators from around the country shared many examples of how assessment methods could be effectively designed to put students in charge of their learning and bring them more fully into their education journey. Diana Gross, Senior Instructional Facilitator for Johns Hopkins and National Geographic Traveler of the Year 2012, guided participants through a multi-step collaborative process to design authentic assessment tasks that had meaning for their schools. It was very interesting to listen to what other schools are doing as well as share examples from the Baldwin School.

Ms. Schonour joined the other” twin workshop,” which explored effective use of Project-Based Learning (PBL), with guest speaker Jennifer D. Klein from the World Leadership School.  Ms. Klein discussed various strategies, pedagogies, tools and resources for infusing project-based learning into academic units in a way that engages students in inquiry and action. She created an open dialogue for teachers and administrators to discuss the difference between projects, which many teachers already do, and project based-learning which integrates deep foundations of academic content.

Inherent in any authentic global learning program is the aspect of travel. Presenters from the World Leadership School led an informative session to guide schools to start and sustain discussion and planning around risk management. Effective strategies for administrators, trip leaders, students and parents were shared.

The weekend experience was a meaningful professional development opportunity that allowed Ms. Schonour and Ms. Lapinski to network, learn and share approaches for teaching global competencies in an increasingly global world. As a result, the pair quickly recognized that the Baldwin School’s Global Initiatives’ approach is positioned well to continue to challenge its students to look beyond what they know and understand, to appreciate differences and to embrace their responsibility to be active, thoughtful, empathetic global citizens.  Baldwin’s mission reinforces this message and its embedded programming ensures that the global experience is much more than just checking off a box on a list.