Collaboration: Across the hallway and across the globe
As the weather begins to cool off here in Madison, Wisconsin, the new school year continues to unfold. Students are settled into their new classes, and teachers focus on the important work of communicating with families. For multilingual learners who are still developing English proficiency, EAL teachers often provide a crucial bridge. As we learn about new students and collaborate with their families, we have an opportunity to hear their stories and connect them to our community. These connections make schools stronger, smarter and more inclusive. Teachers who take the time to find out about students’ passions, experiences and interests – as well as their home language skills – gain a more complete picture of their students. At WIDA, we believe it is essential to develop and share asset-based student portraits with all teachers: to collaborate and build on what each student can do.
Many teachers are also getting to know new colleagues, and starting new co-teaching partnerships. This collaboration provides immense potential for reciprocal professional learning. Likewise, within the growing WIDA network of international schools, we are happy to welcome new schools every month, and this growing diversity in our membership helps us collaborate as a consortium. In our globalized and networked society, we have unprecedented opportunities to exchange ideas with other educators: both across the hallway and across the globe. Through Twitter chats and online courses, educators share ideas around the clock. We can ideate, innovate, and iterate to learn from and build on each other’s ideas.
"Good schools depend heavily on cooperative endeavors. Relational trust is the connective tissue that binds individuals together to advance the education and welfare of students. Improving schools requires us to think harder about how best to organize the work of adults and students so that this connective tissue remains healthy and strong." – Anthony Byrk, 2003
The WIDA International School Consortium continues to integrate these opportunities into our research and professional learning. We are excited to announce a new WIDA collaboration workshop with Andrea Honigsfeld in Rome on March 7-8. The WIDA Symposium also harnesses the power of reciprocal learning. So as we build new ways to utilize networked improvement tools and multiply these connections, we hope you’ll join us for a Symposium – in Seoul, Vienna, Quito or Singapore – to build on what WIDA and your school can do.
Jon Nordmeyer, Director