Written by Marcela Villán, Global Schools Advocate from Argentina
Nelson Mandela, the first South African president, once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” That was a long time ago. Yet, it is one of the most famous sayings about the value of education worldwide. However, although no one will deny that that is so, I am sure we will all agree on the fact that the kind of education Mandela meant at that time was not the same kind of education we need in today’s world. There is no doubt that the World has been progressing in numerous aspects though at the same time, creating several problems we must urgently work on.
Another very interesting quote is a more updated one by British author Ken Robinson, “The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn't need to be reformed -- it needs to be transformed,” referring to the fact that education has to be personalized and that teachers must “put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.” No need to say we all agree with this one as well. Even UNESCO is calling for transformative education. Specifically, one that “involves teaching and learning geared to motivate and empower happy and healthy learners to take informed decisions and actions at the individual, community and global levels.” And if we do an in-depth analysis of the quotes, the words “transformed” and “transformative” suggest a 180-degree change. That is the complete opposite of what has been done so far.
Consequently, there has been a lot of debate on what exactly needs to be transformed. Being part of the Global Schools Advocate Program has helped to find the answer, and I want to share it with all of you. What I did and what I recommend is just to follow these simple steps and transform the way you teach:
1. Introduce the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals make the perfect framework to transform your lessons. The SDGs, or 2030 Agenda, are an urgent call for action by all countries in a global partnership. You and your students, future adults by 2030, must know what they are all about. In my case, whenever I have a new group of students, I introduce the SDGs through videos generally. Some other available resources you can use are the introduction to the goals by the World's Largest Lesson, and of course, for lesson planning, the Global Schools Program (GSP) has lesson plans for all K-12 grades in more than 12+ languages.
2. Include Social and Emotional Learning in your lessons: Try activities that develop SEL awareness and knowledge. People with good emotional skills can better cope with life generally and be positive about it. Always remember it’s essential for students to recognize emotions first. For example, if you teach the youngest leaders, you can encourage self-reflection by drawing their feelings. Whereas, with teens, you can use journal writing to express how they feel. In all cases, a good day to start your lessons is with fun and easy check-ins of their emotions through infographics of all the feelings, for example.
3. Implement the use of technological devices: Used with a good pedagogical aim, tech tools will keep your students focused on the tasks and create modern, meaningful learning experiences that will be useful for their future. Formative assessment tasks through a Kahoot activity or just a summative test using google forms will be clear examples that will transform the teaching experience.
4. Break your classroom walls: Globalize your lessons. Get in contact with teachers around the Globe and connect through virtual meetings. Collaboration with these teachers will make your students raise awareness of the realities that exist around them. The advocacy program has helped me achieve this goal by connecting with like-minded teachers and educators from different countries.
5. Create cultures of Thinking: Work on thinking skills. Being able to think critically will make your students make big life-changing decisions without worries or regrets. Using thinking routines is a way of developing helpful thinking strategies. I particularly enjoy using the Thinking Routine Toolbox by Project Zero and Harvard University.
6. Make an impact: By positively impacting your students, you will fulfill your essential teacher needs. With teachers, it is different, but you can still make an impact. Even if you sometimes find that not all educators will work your way, just keep trying hard to help the world by transforming education. In my case, my focus was to take the opportunity to make an impact on my peers and teach about all this to other teachers all around the world. I achieved this by meeting with school heads about the main aims of teaching with the global goals framework and delivered several workshops online showing others how to introduce them in their lessons, emphasizing the use of PBL (Project-Based Learning) for that purpose.
What are the benefits?
You will find there are innumerable benefits to following these simple actions. Your students will understand the value of multiple perspectives on different topics. What is more, they will be building empathy towards divergent issues. As a teacher, you will promote the work on equity worldwide and a sense of hope by making your students feel they can change the world. And last but not least, you will be creating active learners, creating active engagement in your lessons, giving students voice and choice, and making them feel valued at all times.
During my time as an Advocate at the Global Schools Program, I was provided with all the necessary tools to learn this. That’s why I highly recommend you apply to become a Global Schools Advocate with the next cohort.
Being the change you want to see in this World starts by joining the Global Schools Program!