• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Your blueprint for nurturing globally connected students The World Class Learners series provides the most complete information available on designing twenty-first century schools poised to leapfrog into the future! These practice-oriented books expand on Dr. Yong Zhao’s acclaimed World Class Learners, which presents a new framework for cultivating creative and entrepreneurial students. Now, with this third book in the follow-up three-volume set, Zhao reveals how to help students learn and prepare for a globalized world. The third book in the series outlines how to:  • Transform students into strong, responsible global citizens  • Leverage experts, networks, and partner school relationships  • Implement a “glocalized” Global Campus or classroom Implement Zhao’s new paradigm shift one phase at a time, starting with any book. Better yet, read all three volumes ...

The Global Supply Chain Others as Partners
The Global Supply Chain: Others as Partners
Homa Tavangar

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”

—Henry Ford

“Partners are for longer-term collaboration rather than a one-time transaction. Partners offer complementary skills and knowledge.”

—Zhao (2012, p. 220)
Principles for Global Supply Chain for World Class Learning
  • Collaborate
  • Innovate
  • Source
  • Oversee
  • Deliver
  • Craft personalized products
  • Tap the strengths of partnerships

That jacket comes to us through a process that involves multiple iterations of production, diverse expertise, far-flung locations, and curation of the best and varied technologies. Li & Fung sets the world standard for what an effective global supply chain should look and operate like. And their business model can teach some powerful lessons for setting up effective partnerships in a 21st century, creative, entrepreneurial, global education model.

The company’s values statement reads:

We are a diverse global multinational with Asian roots and a proud entrepreneurial heritage. Our values guide our business every day. At our core, we are entrepreneurs with our customers’ best interests at heart. We are humble, resourceful and innovative. Our people are at the center of our success and the source of our expertise. Building long-term relationships with our stakeholders is important to us. We care for the communities in which we live and work and they are an integral part of our extended family. (Li & Fung, n.d.)

If you replace just a few words to suit your own heritage and educational environment, the statement could read:

We are a diverse global multinational [learning community] with Asian [can be replaced with your local identity] roots and a proud entrepreneurial heritage [or whatever heritage you care to highlight: heritage of excellence, inquiry, close-knit community?]. Our values guide our business [teaching and learning] every day. At our core, we are entrepreneurs [teachers or learners; or just keep “entrepreneurs”] with our customers’ [students’] best interests at heart. We are humble, resourceful and innovative. Our people are at the center of our success and the source of our expertise. Building long-term relationships with our stakeholders is important to us. We care for the communities [or, our community] in which we live and work and they are an integral part of our extended family.

Your class, school, or district might not adapt this values statement verbatim, but it illustrates that this global supply chain leader holds values quite similar to a thriving, entrepreneurial learning community. Perhaps even more telling for comparison to entrepreneurial learning and global partnerships is the company’s “What We Do” principles:

  • We collaborate.
  • We innovate.
  • We source.
  • We oversee.
  • We deliver.
Collaborate and Innovate

Looking at these principles in light of an entrepreneurial, global classroom, school, or district, certainly World Class Learners collaborate and innovate. In the case of Li & Fung, collaborating and innovating are essential to their long-term success as a global supply chain leader, placed at the front of their action list, not just an afterthought of a tradition-bound organization.

Source and Oversee

By “source,” the third item on the “What We Do” list, they mean:

We source great products from suppliers around the world. We evaluate factories based on their capability to supply the right product and based on their commitment to quality, safety and compliance. We work with over 15,000 suppliers in multiple ways to meet our customers’ needs.

In an education environment, the parallel idea could be to “curate,” as in sourcing and choosing the best resources from a large pool of global innovation and always being on the lookout for better sources. The parallel to “oversee” for education comes from the vital role of teachers and other guides of the learning, discussed throughout this book and the series.


The final step, “We Deliver,” is described: “We’re not just about moving things from one place to another. We analyze each customer’s needs, anticipate challenges, design options and set up contingency plans so they never have to worry about the journey.” Delivery, in this case, seems closely parallel to product-oriented learning: The goal in the final step is not a simple handing in of an assignment with few implications for wider learning, but creating a product for an authentic audience you care about.

Craft Personalized Products

Li and Fung’s case represents a global supply chain model on a massive scale that’s been continuously improved over decades, reaching millions of customers. At the other end of the spectrum lies another growing production trend—crafted-with-pride, small batch, creative, often personalized artisanal items such as those sold on the popular made-by-hand marketplace Etsy.com, or services for exchange such as those available via Taskrabbit.com or Airbnb.com. These might involve one person working out of their home who loves the product or service they sell or trade, reciprocating with another person they’ve never met, who also loves the product. The sales can be one-off, or they often create a community of enthusiasts whose crowd-sourced feedback on possible product improvements and pricing, as well lasting correspondence, social media mentions/endorsements, and reviews create a global supply chain reflecting the tastes of a new generation in a new form of commercial exchange. Indeed, some of these ventures fall under the Collaborative Consumption movement, where consumer values prioritize access, networking, sustainability, and relationships over ownership. In this model, “entire communities and cities around the world are using network technologies to do more with less by renting, lending, swapping, bartering, gifting and sharing products on a scale never before possible” (http://collaborativeconsumption.com/about).

Tap the Strengths of Partnerships

This spectrum from massive-scale to small-batch enterprise can light a way for a veritable education supply chain that can mirror—and question—the world’s best practices as driven by market preferences. Among the key elements of their success is the ability to tap the strengths of partnerships for meaningful networking and exchange resulting in the best possible final product. As educators, we can consider how meaningful partnerships can help fuel the best possible learning, showing us that all the knowledge and skills don’t need to come from within our own classrooms, but a collective sharing adds depth, beauty, higher standards, and new avenues for creativity to a complex process. This can involve tapping various networks, creating meaningful partnerships with organizations located across town or across the planet, breaking down cognitive processes into specialization areas, and communications made more effective through diverse channels to launch a process of “borderless learning.”

Principles for Establishing an Effective Educational Partnership
  • Reflect on the principles of clarity, reciprocity, and engagement
  • Prioritize solidarity over charity
  • Make at least a 1-year commitment
  • Set goals and integrate them
  • Connect classroom to classroom, not just pupil to pupil
  • Consider common learning and action themes
  • Measure success by how well the class does when handling tech glitches

Just as some of the most respected business publications have studied best practices of developing a global supply chain; likewise, effective educational partnerships are beginning to be studied and identified by coalitions that want to see these efforts work. The National Network of Schools in Partnership has developed the following useful framework that shows the crucial overlap of strategic engagement, reciprocity, and clarity of purpose to the strength of a relationship. As partnerships—near or far—are pursued, determine their value or strength by the intersection of these three simple guideposts.

The excellent questions for reflection under each of the principles, which fall under the headings Clarity, Reciprocity, and Engagement, offer an ideal starting point for your team to fill out as you begin an effective educational partnership. Here are a few more issues to consider before setting up an educational partnership:

SOURCE: National Network of Schools in Partnership (2014).

  • Prioritize solidarity over charity. When engaging in school-to-school partnerships, consider those in the partnership as your peers, where mutual learning will take place. A desire for charity may naturally emerge from interaction, but if you begin with the position that you will “help” the other children, your students will assume a superior, benefactor role, which is not conducive to collaboration and learning from each other.
  • Make at least a 1-year commitment. By making a longer-term commitment, you will set out to get to know your partners and deepen the learning and relationship beyond a one-off fascination of those who seem so different.
  • Set goals and integrate them. Identify a few tangible outcomes (academic as well as social) you hope to realize from the partnership, and where you can integrate the partnership and collaboration into the general curriculum. For example, if students create a video in the foreign language they are learning, students in the partner class can evaluate it, and conversation also can be practiced in videocalls; lab reports for science classes can integrate observations of global partners experiencing a different climate; product assessment, out-loud reading, or book discussion can take place with the partner class.
  • Connect classroom to classroom, not just pupil to pupil. Even if you are engaging in individual projects or pen-pals, make this a united, group effort. You’ll begin to see variations across people in their classroom, work through any individual disappointments, better sustain the partnership, and be able to encourage individual efforts from among your students.
  • Consider common learning and action themes. For example, you could have a joint project related to peace, the environment, or creating more inclusive classrooms (antibullying), concerns that children on both sides of the partnership will share. This can serve as a proactive platform for working together, and it helps get to know each other on a deeper level.
  • Partnership shouldn’t depend on the technology; in fact, success might be measured by how well the class does when handling glitches. Be ready to plan around asynchronous time zones, lack of adequate bandwidth and Internet connection, sound and video limitations, long delays in receiving replies to letters or e-mails, and general miscommunication. Discuss these possibilities; look for backup solutions (Tavangar & Morales, 2014).
What Can an Educational Partnership for Global Learning Look Like?

This chapter’s opening story traced the production process of a jacket you might purchase at a store like The Gap. As products get more complex, the global supply chain grows with it. For example Boeing describes the production process of its 787 Dreamliner, its more fuel-efficient jet:

More than 50 of the world’s most capable top-tier supplier partners work with Boeing to bring innovation and expertise to the 787 program. They all have been involved since the early detailed design phase of the program and are connected virtually at 135 sites around the world. (Boeing, n.d.)

Even an industry behemoth like Boeing acknowledges that effective partnerships among many suppliers are crucial to the best possible final outcome. Almost no industry or innovation can afford to have its people or components operate in isolation. Likewise, engaging in K–12 education partnerships isn’t just a more interesting way of learning; it’s a crucial part of building the skills needed to contribute to the new economy, whether as an entrepreneur or a corporate employee.

Like the various supply chain models seeking to create the optimal product quality and price, educational partnerships can take on many forms, varying by levels of intensity and engagement, and these depend on a number of factors, including willingness of leadership and teaching staff on both sides to engage in partnerships, perceived benefits to students, how parallel the partnering schools may be to each other as far as socioeconomic conditions, academic demands, and technological capacity.

Here are some examples of partnership strategies in the context of World Class Learning according to setting: For classroom teachers, school leaders, and system leaders; as well as consideration of different realities—thinking (beginning), implementing (intermediate), and expanding (advanced) are outlined in the next section.

Strategies for Establishing an Effective Educational Partnership
In the Classroom
Skype in the Classroom and Mystery Skype (Thinking About Partnerships—Beginning)

If you’ve never tried a global class-to-class partnership, consider starting with Skype in the Classroom. This popular platform contains thousands of lesson plans and ideas so that the conversations with other classrooms can be integrated into broader learning. Skype in the Classroom showcase features some of the best lesson plans for global education (http://education.skype.com/collections). Teachers or entrepreneurial students also can create their own project that suits specific circumstances and interests. Second-graders in Atlanta might share their show-and-tell with a classroom in Accra. Middle schoolers in Mexico City can construct antibullying and other social-emotional learning strategies with their peers in New Delhi. Classes reading Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars (or fiction set anywhere that isn’t their hometown) might Skype with students in Denmark for an ongoing book discussion to get a sense of the place they are reading about. And if time zones pose a problem for real-time learning, stay within your hemisphere, record your conversation prompts and results, or seek other creative ways to connect. MysterySkype offers a simple guessing game for communicating with another class: “The aim of the game is to guess the location of the other classroom by asking each other questions” (MysterySkype, n.d.). Once you’ve played with the other class, you might decide to take on more meaningful projects together, and launch a longer partnership.

Pen Pals (Thinking About Partnerships—Beginning)

Whether through exchanging e-mails or handwritten letters, pen pal correspondence with individuals or classes around the world can serve as a beginning step in building a global partnership, since it starts with the building block of personal communication; but this can grow to more impactful exchanges to benefit learning. Writing to pen pals can improve reading and writing, while offering opportunities for making lifelong friends and dispelling myths about places and cultures we may never have had personal contact with. Your own (or colleagues’) network of friends and family with ties to schools around the world might serve as the best starting point for locating pen pals. Or, reputable organizations like ePals, World Wise Schools, a program of the U.S. Peace Corps, People to People International, School-to-School International, and Students of the World can help facilitate partnerships via pen pals.

Classrooms on Twitter (Thinking About Partnerships—Beginning or Intermediate)

Just as the world’s most admired entrepreneurs interact on Twitter, so do entrepreneurial classrooms. The 140-character limit has not inhibited meaningful interaction, even among the youngest students. For example, kindergartners in Heidi Echternacht’s class in New Jersey have “play partners” in Cairo, Egypt, with whom they communicate through Twitter and occasionally via Skype. Starting with simple conversation prompts like “What do you play at recess?” or “What do you see out the window?” kids living in such different cultures and environments become demystified and relationships might grow from there. Other #kinderchat prompts include the #LookingClosely hashtag and project, inspired by Frank Serafini’s Looking Closely book series. Collaboration and communication via Twitter helps students take a closer look at their natural surroundings, ask questions, and use their imaginations. These can serve as stepping stones to becoming alert to possibilities and needs—the foundation of entrepreneurial learning. For more, see The Looking Closely collaboration site. For high school students, Twitter serves as an ideal way to connect with current events and activists they might be studying (as in the DeforestACTION project highlighted later in this chapter), to begin a dialogue and personalize issues that otherwise would feel far-away, and model a productive use of social media.

Global Read-Aloud (Implementing Partnerships—Intermediate)

The Global Read Aloud (GRA; n.d.) is a worldwide book club that started in 2010 and as of 2014 had grown to more than 4,100 facilitators in 30+ different countries, translating into roughly 244,000 students, representing 100,000 more participants than the previous year (http://www.globalreadaloud.com/2014/09/the-1-month-countdown-has-begun-for.html). Students from kindergarten through college level read a pre-determined book during a set 4-week period, while making as many global connections as possible. Teachers can choose any communications platform for their class collaboration, such as Twitter, Skype, Edmodo, the Global Read Aloud wikispaces page, e-mail, regular mail, or Kidblog to connect with one, two, or more classrooms from around the world. Dynamic conversations on books, creative products for sharing the love of the literature, and discovering new ideas across boundaries represent just a few of the ingredients that contribute to GRA’s popularity.

Joint Science Project With Various Schools Around the World (Implementing Partnerships—Intermediate)

The Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE) at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, in partnership with the Edison Venture Fund and NJ Technology and Engineering Educators Association set up a “telecollaborative project” to introduce students in Grades 9–12 to systems engineering. Stevens Institute provided the curricular content for background knowledge; then students were to create reassembly instructions and diagrams that partner classrooms worldwide used in attempting to reconstruct the device. We consider the reconstructing activity to be on the “intermediate” level of partnership, and in the cases where materials provided by the project would be used by teachers and students to create more advanced collaborative designs, this would be more advanced, demonstrating how global supply chain in an education setting can work.

DeforestACTION, Mapping the Mangroves and Online Model U.N. (Classroom, School or District, Beginner, Intermediate, or Expanding—Advanced)

DeforestACTION, a project of TakingITGLobal (tigweb.org, which hosts numerous collaborative, global learning programs), serves as an educational and action platform for meaningful, global, collaborative problem solving by exploring issues of deforestation in Borneo, engaging thousands of students from around the world in this very real environmental crisis. We found the suite of possibilities through this program could serve an individual classroom, or could be embraced by entire schools or districts, whether just starting out with global partnerships or ready to go deeper with an integrated partnership.

The program contains teacher resources, examples of student projects, and the DeforestACTION Virtual Classroom with K–12 lesson plans and learning activities for those just starting to think about global partnerships, or wanting to add-on to current curriculum to more advanced commitment. As part of the program, Earthwatchers marries exciting technology with unfolding science and environmental activism. Here students can monitor the rainforests of Borneo through satellite imagery, mark changes in land patterns over a period of time, and report disturbances via a collaborative website and social media. Collaboration and partnership aren’t add-ons in this program, but integral to “Earth watching,” to taking real, not simulated responsibility for saving sections of the rainforest. The Earthwatchers Promo Video of students from Cleveland District State High School in Australia (2012) who have been so impacted by their participation in the program conveys the entrepreneurial learning and profound impact this project has had, guided by the wisdom and commitment of a terrific teacher.

Other elements of the program include the DeforestACTION Collaboration Centre, a space for students and youth to dialogue, blog, share photos, connect with the “Eco Warriors” and collaborate with peers from around the world; online events in real time, and additional action tools for students to extend their learning through further involvement.

Mapping the Mangroves, a project of the Qatar Foundation International in partnership with Conservation International, like DeforestACTION, focuses on raising awareness, conversation, and action around environmental preservation of threatened ecosystems using GPS tracking technology so that student learning and outcomes revolve around vital, real global needs.

Online Model United Nations (O-MUN): While Model U.N. conferences can be cost-prohibitive or pose other logistical challenges for many students to attend in person, O-MUN is committed to democratizing this popular academic program, “keeping the focus squarely on mentorship, discussion, collaboration and high academic standards” (Online Model United Nations website welcome page, n.d.). Students come together virtually to debate and collaborate around the world’s most pressing issues in an open, social, participatory environment. An O-MUN video conveys the infectious enthusiasm for this collaboration that isn’t bound by location or resources (O-MUN, 2013).

In the School
School-to-School Partnerships Among Disparate Schools (Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced)

When the Packer Collegiate Institute, a top, independent K–12 school in Brooklyn, New York, embarked on a school partnership with the Ndonyo-Wasin Primary School in the Samburu region of Kenya, a part of the world that is about as different from Brooklyn as can be imagined, school leaders knew the venture would take patience, imagination, and long-term commitment. Ndonyo-Wasin has limited access to electricity and no Internet, so real-time communication between students is impossible, and the typical school connection platforms aren’t an option, either. Instead, students from both schools write letters, paint portraits made from photographs, and make videos to exchange with each other. Students in New York learn a few words of Samburu, the local language, Swahili, one of the national languages, and about the geography of the Samburu region of Kenya. By learning about everyday life of the Samburu, they are able to reflect on their own life circumstances, as well as on disparities of life within New York City. So, while learning about such a remote area that even most Kenyans will not visit, the Packer students build their appreciation of the diversity of life in their own city and in the wider world. A small nonprofit, The Thorn Tree Project, dedicated to this remote region of East Africa, also supports the partnership.

Teachers and administrators reached a consensus that building a relationship and learning about Kenya would be systematically integrated into the scope and sequence of the lower (elementary) school. With teacher input, Packer undertook a redesign of the curriculum. For example, the kindergarteners learn about family structures in this community: that they are nomadic, and that their parents are herders, and so the children board at school. The third graders study the native tribes of the local, New York City area, and make comparisons between the Lenape American Indians and the Samburu tribe, their reliance on the land and livestock, and why one culture dies out and other doesn’t. Results from both schools are self-published into books that the schools share with each other. Teachers at Packer are careful not to exoticize this society where warrior-age men still dress in traditional clothing with beads and bright colors, and maintain rituals and cultural customs that are essential in their culture. By keeping the learning grounded in empathy, humility, and appreciation, the children can understand more profoundly the challenges and joys of a starkly contrasting way of life.

School-to-School Partnerships Among Schools With Common Courses of Study (Intermediate)

Connect All Schools, an initiative spurred by the historic speech by President Obama in Cairo, Egypt, in June 2009 to encourage all schools to engage in global partnerships by 2016, highlights examples of global connections at various stages of sophistication throughout its website. These can be simple, such as two high school economics classes from two sister cities sharing and discussing economic realities in their local environments to deepen knowledge of what economic decisions can look like in practice. Despite the relative simplicity of working on economics homework or discussing chapters in a textbook between Seattle, Washington, and Christchurch, New Zealand, the exchange adds value by shedding light on concepts like central banking, money supply, and inflation based on diverse decisions government leaders and the public make.

Partnerships can grow in complexity with specific projects and assignments, such as those facilitated by Challenge 20/20, which pairs two or more schools of any type of background (public or private, one from the United States and others outside the United States) to work on projects that help find local solutions to one of 20 global problems. Challenges are set up so they are age-appropriate for K–12 participation and work best when classrooms feel that they are doing real work that contributes to global solutions.

Before-, During-, or After-School Vegetable Garden Cultivation—Global Partners, Local Customers (Beginning, Intermediate, or Advanced—Depending on Level of Participation)

The ANIA Children’s Land Project/Tierra de Niños, facilitated by global partnership leader iEARN (www.us.iearn.org), brings together participants from over 20 countries, ranging from Australia to Yemen, for collaborative learning with facilitators in Peru and the United States to share home or school gardening experiences, and learn from the agricultural wisdom of indigenous people of Peru for developing local, sustainable gardening practices. Launched by Peruvian organization, Tierra de Niños (TiNi), partners plant a TiNi (“teeny”), which is a plot of land divided into three parts to benefit the environment (“la naturaleza”), the community (“la comunidad”), and one self (“mi mismo”).

The TiNi is exciting as a product-oriented partnership model. While cultivating a garden, participants in the iEARN program share best practices, encouragement, and build a virtual community around their shared activity. They apply learning in science, Spanish, language arts, and/or social studies to a very real product. In the Jardin por Jardin video (2011) made by 12-year-olds in Seattle, we see the creation of a video in Spanish itself, as well as the garden, serve as reflection of product-oriented learning in the context of a global partnership.

In the School System
Exchange Programs Sponsored by National Governments (Beginning, Intermediate or Advanced—Depending on Level of Participation)

Teacher and student exchange programs facilitated by national governments, like those in Denmark, Australia, and the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms program that links schools in the United Kingdom to other schools in over 40 countries, might serve as an excellent partnership resource for a school system or district. Participation can offer professional development, teacher exchange across countries, programs for students, curricular material that spurs connection across borders, and schoolwide resources that can shift the whole school or district’s culture. The U.S. State Department offers more narrowly focused programs specifically for teachers or individual students, as nonprofit organizations facilitate most of the school and student exchanges in districts across the United States. Check with the the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel to help U.S. high school students to study abroad or to find reputable organizations that facilitate students from abroad to study in the U.S. high schools can make the welcoming and hosting of exchange students from various countries one of the milestones of a broader global learning and partnership plan.

School-to-School, District-to-District, or Sister-City Exchange Programs (Beginning, Intermediate, or Advanced—Depending on Level of Participation)

The Marlborough School of Los Angeles and Beijing No. 4 High School, both prestigious schools in their respective cities, engage in student-to-student exchange where students from each school attended classes at the “sister school,” and students reside with host families during their stay, in addition to their partnerships with other schools in geographically and demographically diverse cities. For example, Marlborough has run immersive exchanges with a school in Paris and another with Northlands School in Buenos Aires, and Beijing No. 4 has a long-standing exchange with the University of Chicago Lab School. The exchanges make up one prong in a larger, strategic global education initiative of the schools, where administration and teachers at both schools have made adaptive, long-term revisions to curriculum, including added depth of global issues and diversity of literature, as well as reflecting on further means to integrate culturally relevant topics.

As Marlborough Dean of Student Life and Spanish instructor, Regina Rosi explained,

Our goal is to streamline exchange programs and foreign travel. With the exchanges, teachers and students bring back new awareness and depth to global and language studies, so it’s a more effective educational experience and significantly less costly, as students participate in homestays, and cultural experiences occur in the context of student life at the high school and being part of a local community; instead of paying for the pre-arranged activities of a tour operator. (Rosi, 2014)

Students from Marlborough who participated in the most recent trips lead discussions and meetings for peers and faculty with the intention of inspiring further collaborations. A visual arts teacher is building a visual art exchange to involve Marlborough students posting their art online and Beijing No. 4 students using that art as an essay writing prompt; and vice-versa, with Marlborough students interpreting art posted by Beijing No. 4 students.

Global Nomads Group

Global Nomads Group (GNG) is an international nonprofit organization that engages and empowers young people worldwide through interactive videoconferencing, webcasting, social networking, gaming, and participatory filmmaking. The use of multimedia serves as a vehicle for global awareness and peace making. GNG’s semester and year-long virtual exchange programs between students in North America and their peers in Sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South East Asia, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) encompass work on rebuilding efforts in Haiti, science collaborations in the Gulf nations, and a participatory arts project to cover the National Mall in Washington, DC, with 1,000,000 handmade bones to raise awareness of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Participants in these social impact partnerships are also brought together in virtual town hall meetings via videoconference to discuss and debate international issues.

Overcoming Challenges

As we considered the biggest challenges in establishing successful school partnerships, the term asynchronicities wove through them, as a common theme. Awareness at the outset that you will be overcoming so many asynchronous conditions can help you to (1) know you’re not alone, and (2) know that you can overcome barriers since so many others have before you. Often, just knowing these two facts can help one overcome big perceived obstacles. Here are some of the challenges you might encounter:

Challenges of Time
  • You are likely in different time zones, so one group of students might be starting out the day, and the partner school is at a different part of theirs, so they may be tired, or have other demands.
  • If you are on opposite seasons, your discussions of a budding spring or hot summer may not be relatable—but you can turn this into an exploration with the partner class.
  • The other class might have a very different way their school day is organized, such as in long blocks, whereas your day may require switching from subject to subject every 45 minutes.
Challenges of Culture
  • Can you tolerate partnering with a single-sex school, or one that has clearly delineated roles for boys versus girls, or requires girls to wear certain coverings that boys don’t wear? Would your girls cover their arms or head out of respect during a videoconference or is this out of the question?
  • Do the holiday periods in the partner school get in the way of your desired period of interaction?
  • Communication styles in the culture of the partner school may call for avoiding eye contact or might regard enthusiastic hand-raising or waving as ill-mannered. To you this may seem to slow down the flow of conversation over a short 20-minute video chat. To smooth any misperceptions, try to familiarize yourself with some of the communication styles of that culture beforehand, especially by trying to poll adults with knowledge of the culture, either through personal interactions or even through blogs, reaching out via Twitter, or cultural communication experts at local business schools. Erin Meyer (2014) shares communication lessons she learned as an American living in Paris instructing Japanese students in her New York Times article, “Looking Another Culture in the Eye.”
Challenges of Language
  • Do you need to speak the same language fluently to accomplish your partnership goals?
  • Are accents or speaking styles clear to each other?
  • Or, would you prefer to not speak the same language fluently and practice foreign language skills with the partner class?
Challenges of Technology
  • Is it crucial that the partner school or class has a reliable source of electricity and Internet?
  • Does the Internet connection need to be high-speed, broadband in order to support clear video chatting, cloud-based collaborative work, the newest software applications, and real-time sharing?
  • When you send an e-mail or other form of communication, how quickly do you expect the reply? Be aware that e-mail culture can vary widely from country to country, and this can take some adjusting on both sides.
Challenges of Curriculum and Learning Culture
  • Are you looking for a partner that shares a similar curriculum, such as IB, AP, or Montessori?
  • Are you looking for a partner that shares a similar level of academic rigor and academic expectations?
  • Do you want to work with a partner that has joined similar networks (like Challenge 20/20, iEARN, or Taking-ITGlobal) or whose teachers have received some of the same training as teachers at your school?

Knowing that these asynchronicities are possible can test your resolve, but they also can prepare you realistically for challenges. As you know yourself, your class and your school or district culture, you will begin to realize which of these factors you can tolerate, and which might pose too great a barrier for a successful partnership. For example, consider if communicating with students in certain time zones will be too disruptive for the flow of your class. This can help pinpoint a location from which to seek a partner class. Do you prefer to meet students who have a similar view as far as gender roles, or would you like to open your students’ eyes and show them how differently other cultures see the roles of boys and girls and have them grapple with those worldviews? Would you like to work through an intermediary organization to facilitate the partnership or be independent of an outside agency?


The world’s most successful businesses have figured out that partnering with diverse companies to build their global supply chain helps maximize results to construct the best possible product, whether it’s a jacket or an airplane. Imagine what results would occur if we took the best know-how in the world, collaborated with diverse learners, and partnered to solve problems together: This might result in fostering the best learners. Why not learn from these best-practices to create successful educational partnerships?

While supply chain leaders like Li & Fung and Boeing look to minimize cost and maximize efficiency and productivity, benchmarks for successful school partnerships, determined by the strength of relationships, are found at the intersection of clarity of purpose, reciprocity of value, and engagement of key stakeholders. In other words, as each example in this chapter showed us, whatever the role of technology or demographic profile of participants, partnerships ultimately rested on the human relationships that came from working together; how fruitful interaction was perceived to be, and what meaning the participants got from their engagement with each other. More than ever, with the shifting needs of a connected, global economy, these factors are no longer “nice-to-have,” but become essential, or “need-to-have” skills and experiences. How does partnership help advance your vision of a global learning experience?

Activity #1: Planning Considerations for a Strong Partnership

Participants: Teachers, school administrative teams, or district-level educators

Objective: Chapter 5 shares a “Framework for Effective Partnership” that can help serve as a planning tool for any school that is considering beginning a partnership with another school, or already has one in place, and would like to strengthen it. This exercise offers a chance for filling in and envisioning the Framework to advance your particular circumstances. When you have achieved some clarity around purpose, reciprocity, and how you will engage with stakeholders, then a global partnership makes sense: It can help advance academic objectives and not feel like one more add-on that is isolated from the core of learning. This activity offers the time and space for filling in a framework that makes sense for your school or district.


  • Colored markers
  • Flipcharts for each group

Organization: Groups of four to six

Process (60 minutes total—or this could extend into a half-day staff retreat)

Have each group answer the questions that accompany the Framework for Effective Partnership. When answering these questions that fall under three general categories, try to answer them based on your actual circumstances, as well as your ideal scenario (minimum 30 minutes):

  • Clarity of Purpose
    • How does your school’s mission inspire the work of partnership?
    • How do you articulate why your school engages in partnership?
    • How do you assess the impact of your partnerships?
  • Strategic Engagement of Stakeholders
    • How does your strategic vision encompass partnership and community engagement?
    • How many stakeholders are involved in the success of your partnerships—students, faculty, administrators, alumni, parents, trustees, school board members, wider community members like businesses and civic organizations?
    • How does the work of partnership enrich learning?
  • Reciprocity of Value
    • What is the value for each partner in the partnership?
    • Where does the partnership occur—in single or multiple locations?
    • Is the partnership framed around collaboration, rather than helping?

Reflection and Next Steps (minimum 30 minutes): Share the results of your small-group discussion with the other groups. How much divergence and how much overlap do you find in the responses? Are you ready to integrate the best or consensus responses into one coherent Framework for your school or district? Once the groups come together to share, are the divergences rooted in fundamental differences of vision or are they easy to overcome? Reflect on the process you’ve just undertaken and how this can benefit your school and your students.

This exercise can be repeated with high school students, in order to assess their stake in meaningful partnerships and compare outlooks on the value of the partnerships.

Activity #2: Reach Out to Potential Partners/Grow Your PLN Via Twitter (45–60 minutes)

Participants: Teachers, school administrative teams, or district-level educators

Objective: Twitter can serve as a powerful and substantive tool for building partnerships for your school as well as for your own professional learning, in spite of its 140-character limit per tweet. The experience of using social media toward productive and positive outcomes also can serve as a model for your students, who by age 13 almost inevitably are active on one social media platform or another. The objective of this activity is to open a personal Twitter account and begin to follow admired colleagues, join a Professional Learning Network (PLN), and find other schools or classes preferably in another country that might share learning goals with yours. If you already are active on Twitter, this is a chance to deepen and widen your networks and engagements.


  • Smartphone, tablet, or computer that are Internet enabled to start tweeting.


  • Orientation of basic Twitter guidelines as a group; then work individually—opening a Twitter account, exploring various accounts on Twitter, engaging with others. Then come together and share experiences.


Ten-Minute Twitter Tutorial (10 minutes): Get to know how to contact someone; use hashtags; look for topics of interest. For those who are brand-new, take a few minutes to open an account.

Twitter Exploration (approx. 20 minutes):

  • Get a little lost in the world of Twitter.
  • Try to determine an objective (e.g., Do you want to connect with other English teachers? The design-thinking community? Makers? Kindergarten teachers/classes? STEM enthusiasts? Or would you like to enrich your study of the Arab Spring? Understand diverse perspectives on the marijuana legalization debate? Or explore how to get involved in a social issue you care about, or help after a recent natural disaster?)
  • Once you’ve determined a topic or two of interest, begin following key accounts.
  • Engage (i.e., send a tweet, ask a question, respond to something recently tweeted) with people you admire or care to debate with.
  • What have you learned during this short time?

Reflection (approx. 15 minutes): Share what you learned with the larger group. Were you able to find a PLN to connect to? Will you be joining a Twitterchat around a particular topic or group? Does this seem like a worthwhile way for you to begin engaging with new partners? Would you share some of this learning with your (high school and up) students to model meaningful social media interaction? Set a specific time, like 30 minutes per week if possible, to dedicate to building your network and learning via Twitter.

Next Steps: Determine one area of activity which you will decide to pursue, either for developing a classroom or school partnership, or for your own professional development. Be ready to share this with the larger group. By sharing with the group, there’s a much greater chance the activity will “stick,” for longer-term benefit.

Boeing. (n.d.). Boeing 787 dreamliner provides new solutions for airlines, passengers. Retrieved from http://www.boeing.com/boeing/commercial/787family/background.page
Collaborative Consumption. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.collaborativeconsumption.com/about/
Earthwatchers Promo. (2012, July). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nj1r383vVRk
Jardin por Jardin [Video]. (2011, July 26). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-0lWr5I2sI&feature=youtu.be
Li & Fung. (n.d.). Our values. Retrieved from http://www.lifung.com/about-us/lf-at-a-glance
Magretta, J. (1998, September). Fast, global, and entrepreneurial: Supply chain management, Hong Kong style. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from http://hbr.org/1998/09/fast-global-and-entrepreneurial-supply-chain-management-hong-kong-style/ar/1
Meyer, E. (2014, September 14). Looking another culture in the eye. New York Times, p. BU8. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/jobs/looking-another-culture-in-the-eye.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C%7B%221%22%3A%22RI%3A8%22%7D
Mystery Skype. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://education.skype.com/mysteryskype
National Network of Schools in Partnership. (2014). NNSP Partnership Framework. Retrieved from http://schoolsinpartnership.org/framework
Online Model United Nations Welcome Page. (n.d.). http://onlinemodelunitednations.org/
Rosi, R. Personal communication. (2014, October 6).
Tavangar, H., & Morales, B. (2014). The global education toolkit for elementary learners. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Zhao, Y. (2012). World class learners: Educating creative and entrepreneurial students. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

ANIA Children’s Land Project/Tierra de Niños, https://collaborate.iearn.org/space-2/group-87/about

Beijing No. 4 High School, http://www.bhsf.cn/index.php?id=103

British Council, Connecting Classrooms Programme, https://schoolsonline.britishcouncil.org/programmes-and-funding/linking-programmes-worldwide/connecting-classrooms

Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE), http://www.ciese.org/

Challenge 20/20, http://www.nais.org/Articles/Pages/Challenge-20-20.aspx

Connect All Schools, connectallschools.org

Council on Standards for International Educational Travel, http://www.csiet.org

DeforestACTION, http://dfa.tigweb.org/

ePals, http://www.epals.com

Global Nomads Group, http://gng.org/

Global Read Aloud, http://www.globalreadaloud.com/

Global Read Aloud wikispaces page, http://globalreadaloud.wikispaces.com/

Global School Partners, http://www.globalschoolpartners.org.au/what-we-do/

iEARN , http://www.iearn.org/

Kidblog, http://kidblog.org/home/

Kinder Chats, http://www.kinderchat.org/#!PROJECT-POND/c1z4y

Looking Closely Collaboration website, http://kidblog.org/LookingClosely/

Mapping the Mangroves, mappingthemangroves.org

Marlborough School, http://www.marlborough.org/

Meyer, E. (2014). The culture map: Breaking through the invisible boundaries of global business. New York, NY: Public Affairs.

Mystery Skype, #MysterySkype, https://education.skype.com/mysteryskype

Online Model United Nations, http://onlinemodelunitednations.org/

People to People International, http://www.ptpi.org

School-to-School International, sts-international.org

Skype in the Classroom, https://education.skype.com/

Skype in the Classroom showcase, https://education.skype.com/collections

Students of the World, http://www.studentsoftheworld.info/menu_schools.php3

TakingITGlobal, https://www.tigweb.org/

Thorn Tree Project, http://www.thorntreeproject.org/

U.S. State Department Exchange Programs, http://exchanges.state.gov/us/exchange-experience

World Wise Schools, http://www.peacecorps.gov/wws/about/

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