A new journey: Fostering Future Friendly Schools & Social Innovation in Europe!

October 9, 2015

Earlier this year, our team at TakingITGlobal was thrilled to launch our fourth professional learning course, Education for Social Innovation, with our partners at the Toronto District School Board. The new course, co-designed with a group of lead educators at the TDSB, brings together elements of our Student Voice and Global Citizenship e-courses with new content infusing topics of social change, entrepreneurship, and technology for pedagogical documentation. Several of the most engaged schools also participated in our Future Friendly Schools program, gaining new perspectives on their strengths and opportunities though a survey of their stakeholders. Here's a look at some of the outcomes generated through the words of participating educators and students:

In March, I was honoured to be asked to be a keynote speaker at the Central and Eastern European Schools Association (CEESA) annual conference. Up until a few years ago, I was unaware of the large network formed globally by International schools, originally founded to serve children of diplomats but many now serving local students and dedicated to leveraging the resources and networks they bring together to create positive social change in their communities. I have especially been most impressed by many dedicated educators I have met from these schools, who have built their lives on travelling between countries and regions, with a goal of developing their students, with more than the average level of resources within their reach, into forces for good in the world. Programs like the Global Issues Network have created structures that make this a regular occurrence, hosting conferences that challenge and inspire students to go further in their commitment to problem solving. Our founding Future Friendly School, the American School Foundation of Monterrey (Mexico) is one of the leading schools from this community that we've been pleased to work closely with over the last 18 months.

The response to my presentation was a positive one - which is one of the reasons why I love working with educators. The commitment we have at TakingITGlobal to positive youth development is one shared by almost every educator I've met. But something was different - something was special with this group - they immediately asked "What's next?" and followed up on that question with me after the conference. As a result, we designed a new cohort of the Education for Social Innovation course launched with the TDSB for CEESA's schools. One of the most important aspects of the offered is the blended nature of the learning, with educators collaborating and forming new professional bonds in person, and then continuing that offline. I was thrilled that schools in 6 countries committed to sending teams to Warsaw last month for a full day, in-person orientation at the American School of Warsaw on a sunny Saturday.

In addition to the course, all of the participating schools will gain insights into their strengths and opportunities for growth through membership in the Future Friendly Schools network. We hope to complete the stakeholder surveys before the holiday season to ensure the insights can inform project development and support community engagement, and welcome these new schools into the community in 2016.

With the course kicked off, we'll continue with four online sessions, the second of which I'll host remotely from Tashkent International School in Uzbekistan next month, as educators reflect, gain new insights (from us and from each other) and co-design social innovation projects with their students. Finally, we'll all come back together in Istanbul next March at CEESA's next summit and share what we've learned and how far we've come.

I'm excited to see the innovative ideas that come from students across the region, and to make connections with the classrooms and challenges here in Canada. A big thank you to CEESA and Kathy Stetson for following up on the interest in the region, our partners at the TDSB, Cisco Foundation, and Ontario Ministry of Economic Development who made the new course development possible, and our friends at Fluidsurveys who have kindly donated their platform to support outcome evaluation for educators and students!

Michael Furdyk Michael is the co-founder of TakingITGlobal
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