Lessons from Across the Globe

I am fortunate to serve as a Commissioner at the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) for the Commission on International Education. This role allows me the opportunity to learn from a variety of schools across the globe as I read reports from international schools and serve on visiting teams during accreditation reviews. These experiences often prove to be some of the best professional development I have experienced in my career, and I continually try to bring lessons learned from these and other school visits to my work here in the Upper Valley. 

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If I were to boil down the key insights I have gained from best practices in education while serving as a Commissioner, it would include the following:  

  • For educators to maximize engagement in their classrooms, coursework has to be meaningful for their students and whenever possible, connect to real-world issues.
  • We also know that much of the knowledge and skills students need are very hard to evaluate through traditional testing methods. For example, successful twenty-first century citizens will need to be creative problem-solvers and clear communicators, be able to collaborate with diverse groups of people, and analyze data critically to determine what is relevant and what needs to be disregarded.
  • The best classroom environments are structured to foster student learning and knowledge that is deep, readily retrieved, and practiced over time—not crammed into short-term memory.
  • High functioning schools are continually enabling their students to develop into self-directed, lifelong-learning adults. Skilled teachers heighten students’ curiosities by allowing them to explore their specific interests and self-evaluate their academic progress. Furthermore, when students are able to teach their peers what they have discovered, it fosters greater accountability. 
Of course, there are many other essential practices that high-performing schools maintain across the globe and each time I serve as a Commissioner for a different school, I deepen my knowledge in these areas and widen my understanding of others. But I find myself circling back to these four points quite often and thinking about how the successful methods of teaching at these schools can be applied to what schools do here.

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