The past month brought many reminders of our global interdependence. As many communities around the world continue to be impacted by the outbreak of COVID-2019, we see the interconnectedness of our world. In our common humanity, we have the potential for incredible empathy; however, in some cases a fear of the unknown may also lead to xenophobia. The current response from governments and news media is an opportunity for us to learn, and provides teachable moments with our students. Here is a helpful classroom activity from the Morningside Center, helping students to build empathy and challenge discrimination as a result from this situation.
February also brought together international schools from around the world at the annual AAIE Conversation. Thought leaders, scholars and global school directors engaged in dialogue around the 2020 theme: Diverse on Purpose, Different by Design. And indeed the conversations this year were palpably different. Groups of leaders explored questions about diversity, equity and inclusion. Kevin Bartlett and Kristen Pelletier of the NFI Design Team led a discussion of how schools would be different if they addressed the truth that all children learn differently. A panel of young leaders posed hard questions, about how we define diversity, how as educators we can take a stand on equity, and how we honestly unpack our own bias and privileges. There were calls to action for positive change-making and honest conversations with our school communities. WIDA co-facilitated sessions challenging schools to view diversity as an asset: not only linguistic and cultural diversity but also neurodiversity. And together with NFI we shared insights on how voluntary global networks can help sustain the development of not just inclusive programs but inclusive identities.
In an increasingly interdependent and multilingual world, WIDA has committed to promoting social justice and serving the global education community. Building on our international network of schools and scholars, we share ways to both learn from and contribute to dialogue with the wider education community. We bring you opportunities to connect with the resources at the University of Wisconsin, like this month’s spotlight on one of our School of Education colleagues, Lesley Bartlett, a researcher and advocate for multilingual learners around the world. This month we also celebrate connecting with new member schools from four continents in the WIDA International School Consortium. Join me in welcoming these educators, in many languages, to the conversation.
Jon Nordmeyer, Director
*Chinese: I wish you well