In previous articles in this series we looked at the first two elements in the CGC Learning Ecosystem: Define and Design. Now we turn our attention to the Deliver element, asking, ‘How do we teach for learning and create a shared, schoolwide, learning culture?’.
The search for consistent quality of learning, and therefore consistent quality of teaching, is a long and winding road. The usual markers on that road seem to focus on developing ‘standards’ for teachers, and then ‘evaluating’ teachers against those standards. It’s all very compliance-oriented and rule-bound. Even the language around it smacks of the factory floor. In what other profession are we the ‘supervisors’ of our colleagues?
In CGC, we take a very different approach. We believe that schools are learning cultures and that cultures are framed by principles, not constrained by rules. We define a principle as ‘a shared truth that brings order and freedom to a system’. To us, common sense alone dictates that, as professionals, we are more likely to follow a ‘shared truth’ than to attempt to comply with the mind-boggling number of standards that seem to over-populate evaluation systems.
So, where do our Learning Principles come from? We believe that a well-crafted, co-created set of Learning Principles will be a practical synthesis of our shared learning experiences and the most reliable research. As always in CGC, we also believe in simplicity over complexity, so we generally work hard to synthesize our collective wisdom into 4-5 Learning Principles, and we find that this is plenty to guide learning, teaching and leading.
Of course, a set of Learning Principles has no value on its own. Just another wall adornment to nail up by the Mission Statement. The real learning impact comes when Learning Principles are translated into Learning Practices, then into the necessary Teaching Practices to support the learning, then Leading Practices to support the teaching. It’s basic logic, a simple if-then syllogism: If we are living this principle, then here’s what we’ll see our learners doing, here’s what our teachers will be doing in support and here’s what our leaders will be doing to sustain this culture of ‘learning, teaching and leading on principle’. For example, if the Principle is about Self-regulation, then learners, guided by teachers, will be able to set their own learning goals, and teachers will be able to set their own professional learning goals. It’s a system, and the system shapes the culture.
So, that’s the simple idea. A school-wide culture shaped by a few deeply-held shared learning principles that drive practices for learning, teaching and leading, including practices for Self-directed Professional Learning. When it comes to improving our practice, it seems obvious that we learn to improve our practice, so we should be following learning theory not out-moded evaluation practices.
A final point. In our member schools, we have seen rapid transformation by simply working together as a faculty on one collective annual goal of high learning impact for all students. It’s a simpler, more effective use of time and energy than the annual ritual of scatter-shot multiple personal goal-setting by each faculty member, a process we have labeled, somewhat irreverently, ‘Letters to Santa’. It’s one of many Energy Vampires that we would best be rid of. But that’s another story…
This article was submitted by Kevin Bartlett. Kevin led international schools for over 30 years in 4 different locations, while working on a number of fronts to systematize international education. This work included designing accreditation systems including ACE, leading courses for the Principals’ Training Center, initiating and leading the IB Primary Years Programme, and co-founding The Next Frontier Inclusion and the Common Ground Collaborative.continue reading
We are getting more and more members every month. Currently, we have over 19546 (up 4369 members since January 2019). We are definitely the place to go for networking with other international school educators!
Out of these thousands of members, we have teachers who hold many types of positions. Check out our Members’ Job Titles page to see how many we have in each of these positions.
Using the data from this page, here are the current Members’ Job Titles statistics: (8 October, 2020)
39 Activities Coordinators – (up 4)
13 Admission Coordinators – (up 1)
11 Admissions Director – (up 4)
107 Art Teachers – (up 28)
66 Assistant Principals – (up 15)
88 Biology Teachers – (up 19)
28 Business Office Workers – (up 2)
87 Chemistry Teachers – (up 23)
878 Classroom Teachers – (up 146)
19 Communications Workers – (up 2)
106 Counselors – (up 24)
132 Curriculum Coordinators – (up 30)
187 Department Heads – (up 38)
19 Development Coordinator – (up 5)
35 Drama Teachers – (up 4)
59 Economics Teachers – (up 11)
307 English Teachers – (up 58)
260 EAL Teachers – (up 43)
176 Foreign Language Teachers – (up 31)
20 Geography Teachers – (up 1)
117 Heads of School/Directors – (up 24)
78 History Teachers – (up 12)
105 ICT Teachers – (up 25)
7 Interns – (up 0)
75 Librarians – (up 16)
33 Marketing Workers – (up 5)
213 Math Teachers – (up 42)
90 Music Teachers – (up 16)
6 Nurses – (same)
303 Other – (up 58)
121 P.E. Teachers (up 33)
61 Physics Teachers – (up 13)
134 Principals – (up 33)
18 Psychology Teachers – (up 8)
95 Science Teachers – (up 12)
9 Secretaries – (up 3)
75 Social Studies Teachers – (up 12)
98 Special Needs Teachers – (up 23)
9 Speech Pathologists – (up 0)
44 Teaching Assistants – (up 14)
Biggest increases: Dept. Heads, Classroom Teachers, English Teachers, EAL Teachers, Math, Foreign Language Teachers and Principals.
Want to get a job at an international school in one of these positions? Log-on to International School Community and start contacting our members to get answers to your questions. Many of our members definitely know about the life of an international school teacher at the schools they currently work at and the schools they have worked at in the past.
So where in the world do our current members live? The members, who have stated so on their profile, currently live in the following regions of the world:
419 that are currently located in Asia – (up 99)
53 that are currently located in Caribbean – (up 9)
61 that are currently located in Central America – (up 15)
851 that are currently located in East Asia – (up 177)
201 that are currently located in Eastern/Central Europe – (up 36)
549 that are currently located in Middle East – (up 93)
116 that are currently located in North Africa – (up 25)
1007 that are currently located in North America – (up 114)
166 that are currently located in Oceania – (up 19)
758 that are currently located in South East Asia – (up 142)
172 that are currently located in South America – (up 38)
248 that are currently located in Sub-Saharan Africa – (up 68)
807 that are currently located in Western Europe – (up 109)
Looks like North America is still in the lead! We recommend that all our members keep their profile as up to date as possible, so that their networking possibilities can be at their highest. Update yours today.continue reading
The story so far…
In our last article, we defined the CGC’s interactive helix of Conceptual, Competency and Character Learning as the DNA of learning. To extend the metaphor, a DNA does not live in a vacuum. It shapes a body. So another question presents itself. “What body of knowledge is important for these learners, right now?’. As we set out to identify learning that really matters, we framed our DESIGN question like this: ‘What’s Worth Learning and Why?’. Our response to that question works on multiple, connected levels:
It’s worth learning about our human common ground…
As our principal content organizer, we have identified 6 Human Commonalities, which preserve the essence of traditional disciplines e.g. Physics, while opening the door to emergent ‘proto-disciplines’ e.g. Innovation. The Commonalities encourage both deep disciplinary learning and the exploration of broad, powerful ideas that transcend disciplinary boundaries. They provide ‘The Why’ behind the disciplines and are framed by pairings of universal concepts, amplified by ‘We all’ statements expressing our common ground.
The Human Commonalities provide the vertical organizers for a Learning Matrix comprising powerful Learning Modules, organized for connection and coherence.
…and Horizontal Connections
We then add horizontal connections via three Thematic Questions, which spiral through the developmental bands, providing an annual connecting focus:
It’s worth learning to be experts…
CGC develops learning experts, both child and adult. Experts have a deep conceptual understanding of the ideas of their knowledge domain, and high levels of competency in domain skills. To complement conceptual and competency expertise we are committed to producing expert human beings, with strong, positive moral character.
Consequently we identify specific Domain Conceptual and Competency Learning Goals in every Learning Module. We also provide Character Learning Goals. These are ‘domain agnostic’, and used in all Commonalities.
It’s worth learning to be experts in contexts that really matter…
We recognize that it is possible to become a technical expert in a domain without engaging with vital issues like justice, equity, freedom, and the use of power. In order to ensure that CGC learners engage with these issues, we use them to shape the Compelling Questions that drive every CGC Learning Module.
It’s worth learning to tackle complex challenges that demand urgency and agency…
CGC learners become learning experts in the context of modules that matter. These may be grounded in one Commonality but draw from others in natural ways that connect and complement learning.
As a further extension and application of their learning, we have also designed a systemic way for learners to tackle challenges and opportunities that are so pressing and so significant that they demand a multi-disciplinary approach, a collaborative methodology and a commitment to taking action. These are the CGC Complexity Challenges.
We envisage teams of learners, teachers and potentially, external experts, working on these Challenges as a passion project in their preferred domain. They collaborate to find solutions and plan actions, then come together to share their learning with other teams and with other community learning stakeholders in a major Learning Demonstration.
Complexity Challenges are planned using the Compelling Questions model, extended across the Commonalities. Here’s an example:
What’s worth learning and why?
In CGC, we believe that it’s worth learning about our human common ground, that it’s worth learning to become experts in important knowledge domains, and that it’s worth learning how to build our expertise in the context of substantive content that really matters. Ultimately, it’s worth learning how to exercise our agency and work with urgency, to take action on the pressing challenges and opportunities that face humanity, right here, right now.
That’s what’s worth learning…and why.
This article was submitted by Kevin Bartlett. Kevin led international schools for over 30 years in 4 different locations, while working on a number of fronts to systematize international education. This work included designing accreditation systems including ACE, leading courses for the Principals’ Training Center, initiating and leading the IB Primary Years Programme, and co-founding The Next Frontier Inclusion and the Common Ground Collaborative.
At International School Community, we now have over 2150 international school profiles listed on our website!
Traill International School (Bangkok, Thailand)
Olive Tree International Academy (Hangzhou, China)
North London Collegiate School (Singapore) (Singapore)
Leeds International School (Galle, Sri Lanka)
The British College of Brazil (Sao Paolo, Brazil)
American International School in Egypt (Main Campus) (New Cairo City, Egypt) – 30 Members
Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 24 Members
Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 23 Members
International School of Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 22 Members
International School Manila (Manila, Philippines) – 22 Members
British International School Moscow (Moscow, Russia) – 70640 Views
Colegio Granadino Manizales (Manizales, Colombia) – 38970 Views
American International School of Budapest (Budapest, Hungary) – 20524 Views
Bodwell High School (Vancouver, Canada) – 5255 Views
Haileybury Almaty (Almaty, Kazakhstan) – 4288 Views
International School of Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 4217 Views
Kyoto International School (Kyoto, Japan) – 63 Comments
School of the Nations (Brasilia) (Brasilia, Brazil) – 41 Comments
International School of Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 135 Comments
Deutsche Schule Kobe – European School ‘s Wall(Kobe, Japan) – 50 Comments
United Lisbon International School (Lisbon, Portugal) – 0 Comments
But check them all our yourself! Get answers to your questions about the international schools you are interested in by clicking on the geographic region of your choice. It’s a great way to learn about different international schools around the world and gather information!
International School Community has the following 2171 international schools listed on our website (last updated on 27 September, 2020)
Central America (45)
Central/Eastern Europe (114)
East Asia (325)
Middle East (293)
North Africa (68)
North America (109)
SE Asia (335)
South America (100)
Sub-Saharan Africa (175)
Western Europe (325)continue reading
In a previous article we looked at how the Common Ground Collaborative (CGC) set about creating a complete, connected, Learning Ecosystem, using Four Guiding Questions. The first of these, ‘What is Learning?’, the CGC’s ‘Define’ question, has provided an answer far more powerful than we anticipated. Now read on…
What is learning and how do we do it?
When we set out to re-engineer learning, it felt like common sense to start by defining it. We’re all in the learning game, so wouldn’t it be sensible to decide what learning actually is before we start trying to make it happen?
Of course, there are lots of statements about learning out there, some of them presented as ‘definitions’. Eventually, though, as our own definition of learning evolved, we realised that it was ‘different’. Rather than cozy generalizations about, for example, ‘lifelong learners’, ours was a practical definition of the actual learning process, designed to drive the teaching process.
We worked backwards from an understanding of the behaviours of experts, based on the common sense notion that an expert has probably learned well. We determined that experts have a deep understanding of the ideas of their domain and the relationships among them and that they are highly competent in the skills of their domain. We were also committed to the importance of developing expert human beings, with strong, positive values and dispositions.
With this in mind, we felt our definition needed to address the learning of ideas, skills and personal traits. Since we are also committed to simplicity, we turned this raw material into the powerful, memorable CGC Learning Definition, known in all our member schools as ‘the 3 Cs’: Conceptual, Competency and Character Learning.
The reason for separating out these forms of learning was not just to give us a simple, memorable definition. We knew we needed to think differently about building learner capacity in conceptual understanding, competency and character because the pedagogy required to build each of these capacities is different.
From learning process to teaching process
Knowing this, we unpacked each form of learning into a clear methodology that is simple enough for large-scale applicability in multiple school contexts, yet deep enough to genuinely drive learning. For example, we believe that inquiry-based learning is fundamental to building conceptual understanding but we were wary of over-complicating inquiry-based methodology or falling into the trap of presenting one inquiry-based process as dogma. Our own approach is to strip things down to their essence, making them, in the words of Einstein, ‘As simple as possible and no simpler than that’. Hence our take on building conceptual understanding as a process of Connect-Construct-Contribute. For Competency Learning: Deconstruct-Identify-Practice. For Character Learning: Consider-Act-Reflect.
Having built our learning definition we set out to ensure that it drives our learning model. We developed learning standards for each of the 3 Cs, each with their own, simple sentence stems, as follows:
These standards drive all CGC Learning Modules, so that the learning definition shapes the learning goals and the teaching methodology. Within this ecosystem, teachers plan, teach and assess for conceptual, competency and character learning. When students self-assess, they do the same:
Just as we had hoped from the outset, we had found a ‘process’ definition that shapes everything that follows. We realized, of course, that our definition is, like all ‘curriculum’, simply a human construct. We realized that, with any kind of authentic learning, any and all of our 3 C’s may be in play, although one or other may be more dominant, depending on what is being learned. We saw each kind of learning, not as a cycle, returning to its original starting point, but as a spiral, constantly evolving, one step leading to the next, throughout a lifetime of learning.
The DNA of Learning
The idea of three spirals, constantly interacting, evoked a powerful image. The 3 C’s as a living construct, a triple helix, the DNA of learning. It’s a bold claim, to claim to discover a learning DNA, and it’s obviously purely a metaphorical one. But the metaphor works. It works to explain, and to remember, what’s happening when we’re learning, and to remember to plan, teach and assess for what matters. It brings teacher clarity and collective teacher efficacy. It helps in our quest to build our young learners into experts, with deep conceptual understanding of important ideas, high levels of competency in key skills and strong, positive moral character. We think that matters.
In the next in this series, we’ll extend the metaphor. A DNA doesn’t live in a vacuum. It shapes a body. So we’ll be asking questions about the 4th C: Content…a body of knowledge that really matters. We’ll be asking, ‘What’s Worth Learning…and Why?’
This article was submitted by Kevin Bartlett. Kevin led international schools for over 30 years in 4 different locations, while working on a number of fronts to systematize international education. This work included designing accreditation systems including ACE, leading courses for the Principals’ Training Center, initiating and leading the IB Primary Years Programme and co-founding The Next Frontier Inclusion and the Common Ground Collaborative.