Educational Leadership for Social Good
After the ISTE conference last month I asked our team what they saw that might be most important for school leaders. Our teammate and Events Director, Al Thomas, a former principal himself, ran the Education Leaders Network Playground, which featured 28 sessions for leaders by leaders, and one session in particular stood out when we talked about it… a session called Leading EdTech Initiatives for Social Good by Jennifer Williams, author of Teach Boldly.
The title of her session alone resonated with me. EdTechTeam is a California Benefit Corporation, dedicated to effecting positive change in schools, and currently supporting a number of advocacy programs including the Our Voice Academy and the nonprofit Student Voice Foundation. I wanted to learn more about Jennifer’s perspective on edtech for social good, and after an introduction from Al, she was kind enough to meet with me via Hangout to share more of her work.
I was impressed by Jennifer’s background as a classroom teacher, speech pathologist, and principal with interests in global studies, cross-cultural collaboration, and a peace curriculum. An early adopter of iPads Jennifer remains dedicated to using technology in schools for a social purpose. She has aligned her recent work with the Sustainable Development Goals produced by the United Nations in 2015 (as an agenda for moving forward to 2030). The goals include eradicating poverty and hunger, and reducing inequalities world-wide… as well as providing for quality education, sustainable cities, and strong institutions, among others. There are 17 audacious and awe inspiring goals… that despite their significant challenges just might be realistic over the next decade. But the planet will need all hands on deck, especially in countries where educators have the resources that allow them to be reading this post.
Jennifer has been doing her part to get all hands on deck, working with the UN since 2016 to connect schools to these goals in meaningful ways. What started as a small group of 4 teachers has grown to a vibrant community of over 30,000 educators around the world, all dedicated to helping their students contribute to these global goals in their own ways. I’ve always said that focusing 12 years of student labor on turning in papers for a grade is a huge waste of resources, and we should establish permeable classrooms to allow a bit of the world in, and a bit of our students’ efforts out… and I can think of no better focus for student effort than the Sustainable Development Goals.
If you’d like to learn more about Jennifer’s efforts, how you can become involved, and what practical ideas you can jump right into with your colleagues and students, you might begin by exploring the resources below:
- TeachSDGs: School leaders and educators can take the pledge to TeachSDGs! Join with a community committed to the Sustainable Development Goals and to developing global competencies.
- The Goals Project: Join a team for the September 2019 global collaboration project! Schools or individual classrooms can sign up to participate.
- Leadership Opportunity: Facilitator roles are available (to lead teams of 17 global classrooms).
- The Climate Action Project: Sign up to participate in the October 2019 global collaboration project!
- Innovation Lab Schools: Learn more about yearlong connections with school programs and refugee camps in Africa and South America (coming in 2020) with Jane Goodall.
FRAMEWORKS AND STANDARDS
- High-quality Project Based Learning (HQPBL) Framework (Buck Institute)
- Global Competence Outcomes and Rubrics for leadership, math, science, arts, social studies, & ELA (Asia Society)
- ISTE Standards (ISTE)
You might also pre-order a copy of Jennifer’s upcoming book, Teach Boldly, Using EdTech for Social Good. You can connect with her directly at JenWilliamsEdu.com and @JenWilliamsEdu on social media. School leaders are always welcome to message her for more information on school-wide programs (social good, global competencies, alignment to the SDGs), or to share what is working in their school communities. Check out Jen’s website https://www.jenwilliamsedu.com/ for more ideas, resources and inspiration.
Other relevant books from EdTechTeam Press include Bring The World to Your Classroom (using Google Geo Tools), The Martians in Your Classroom (thinking a step beyond global goals), and my own team-inspired More Now: A Message from The Future for the Educators of Today, which showcases what’s possible today and encourages you to dream up the world you want to live in.
Mark Wagner is a former high school English teacher that has since served as educational technology coordinator at the site, district, and county levels. He is now President and CEO of the EdTechTeam, a global network of educational technologists that provide professional development and consulting services to learning institutions, nonprofits, and for-profit education companies. The EdTechTeam is a California Benefit Corporation with a mission to improve the world’s education systems using the best technology and pedagogy available and aims to inspire and empower other educators to do the same. Wagner earned a Ph.D. in Educational Technology with doctoral research focused on video game use in education, specifically massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) as constructive learning environments. He also holds a master’s degree in cross-cultural education. Outside of work, Wagner plays hockey, practices martial arts, and obsesses over his ’62 Beetle. He enjoys songwriting, nature, and exploring the world. He lives in Irvine, California with his wife, Eva, and boys, Clark and Finn. Naturally, he’s a U2 fan.