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Five Tips for Building Strong Community Partnerships to Support Teachers

Tonya Muro, Ed.D., Director of School Outreach and Educational Partnerships, AFS-USA, is a founding steering committee member of the Global Education Coalition of New York City, a community network of global education organizations (including Asia Society) working to support NYC students. Here she shares advice for creating lasting partnerships.

By guest blogger Tonya Muro 

In early March, a diverse group of educators, entrepreneurs, global education non-profits, students, and parents gathered in New York City to hear New York Times author Elizabeth Green. Her 2014 book Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (And How to Teach it to Everyone) examines a handful of rogue lesson plans and innovative teaching tactics that have yielded surprising levels of student achievement. She believes that good teaching is a learnable skill and aims to uncover what really goes on in the classrooms of good teachers and replicate their success on a larger scale, in the process challenging our assumptions about what young minds need.

GEC-NYC Meet the Author.jpg

Her timing couldn't be better. America's youth are on track to be the most educated generation in our nation's history, even though they lack the basic literacy and technical skills needed to compete in the global workforce, according to a recent study published by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Teachers and students are slogging through classroom hours but are seemingly not much better for it, relative to their international peers. 

So how do we accomplish the requisite curriculum overhaul to ensure global competitiveness and collaboration, and still support intuitive professional development for educators? One viable solution is to rely more heavily on the social resources that exist to complement traditional education, such as nonprofit organizations specializing in global education. But in order to connect teachers with such resources, strong partnerships must be forged between the traditional and the non-profit educational sectors.                                                            

Our Model: The Global Education Coalition
The Global Education Coalition of New York City (GEC-NYC), which hosted Elizabeth Green, is working hard to help teachers and students go global. Founded in 2011, GEC-NYC consists of 18 non-profit organizations that are committed to providing professional development opportunities and global learning resources and advocacy to K-12 teachers in New York City and beyond. The resources available from GEC-NYC members are numerous and cannot be understated. By coming together and networking, our groups have strengthened our work and spread it beyond our immediate constituents. Here is how we did it. 

Five Tips to Starting Your Own Global Education Coalition

1. Start small by networking through socializing: The GEC-NYC began as a global education happy hour for over a year. Friendships were forged, but then it was realized that by joining forces support educators could be supported well beyond socializing.

2. Form a steering committee of like-minded organizations and invite other global education organizations to participate: We recommend that three to four interested organizations providing a diverse range of services come together to plan the format and function of the coalition. For example, the GEC-NYC plans open houses to invite interested participants and host rotating monthly meetings at each other's offices where we plan events—namely around professional development activities for both ourselves and educators that we serve.

3. Create a website, with a charter which includes goals and objectives that everyone can rally around: The primary objective of the Coalition is to support educators in the New York metropolitan area in creating globally competent youth. As the Coalition is comprised of organizations with a national reach, New York metro area service providers, and globally-focused recipient organizations, the nature of the participation will vary. Nevertheless, all members contribute to professional development, 21st-century skills-based curriculum design, and innovative global education policy.

4. Collaborate, Communicate, Create, and Critique: The GEC-NYC tries to implement the four C's of 21st century learning by collaborating regularly on events, communicating by meeting regularly, creating professional development presentations for educators, and critiquing our work to continually improve by learning from each other and the educators that receive our resources.

5. Have fun: The GEC-NYC tries to continue the spirit of those happy hours so that we don't lose momentum, because the more we know each other, the more effective we will be in our work with others—because then it won't feel like work!

For our students, the implications of supporting innovations in education and teacher development are enormous. As one example, in a study of the long-term impact of global education on its high school study abroad participants, AFS discovered that over 90% were more likely to go on to college, and over 50% were more likely to attend graduate school. This data demonstrates the importance of global learning for academic and career achievement, which, according to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, are inextricably linked to U.S. economic performance.

The Global Education Coalition of New York City invites you to form your own coalition by checking out our website. Let us know if we can help you to get started!

Follow Tonya, AFS-USA, Heather, and Asia Society on Twitter.  

Photo: Rousseau Mieze, history teacher from Achievement First, and Andy Snyder, social studies teacher, Harvest Collegiate High School (featured in the book) and author Elizabeth Green of Building a Better Teacher entertain questions from the audience. (Sarah Lorya, AFS-USA)

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