Claire Mackay, EAL Teacher at St Andrew's Learning Community in Glasgow, on her school’s international journey
Our world is changing. As teachers, it is our duty to teach children the skills needed to navigate and actively take part in our society, locally and globally. It is important that we leave the next generation capable for the challenges of the future. This is one of the reasons I chose to become a teacher.
International education and global citizenship have always interested me. I have often worked with my learners on international education and, for me, taking part in eTwinning as a pedagogical method for delivering these skills to learners seemed a good next step in my journey.
Taking part in eTwinning has been one of the most positive and motivating experiences in my teaching career. To see children interact with their peers around the world is a sheer joy! Families tells us that pupils often talk about their faraway friends and when a project is finished, they ask when we can start a new one.
I am lucky enough to currently work in a richly diverse school in the East End of Glasgow. Many of our learners are EAL and come from a multicultural heritage. Their experiences add to the classroom dynamics in many positive ways.
As a school, we have identified the importance of international education and have been awarded a British Council International School Award (full accreditation). As a staff, we encourage children to see themselves as global citizens and find their place in our world. So, how did we start our journey?
Our international journey started small, with one eTwinning project. It grew into a whole school project, based around the Olympics with partners in Spain, France and Poland. That project was awarded a UK and European Quality Label.
By being part of eTwinning, we were awarded our Foundation Level award from the British Council. As I had been so inspired by our work as a school, I volunteered as International School Co-ordinator and explored where to go from there.
When I talked to colleagues and did an audit of our international work in classes, it became clear that we had embedded international education in our school without even realising it. It was what our pupils needed and as staff we had responded. All that was missing was someone to highlight the good work, collect the evidence and fill out the paperwork. So we jumped straight to full accreditation, filled out the application and we were successful.
I encourage all teachers to stop and look at the work you are doing with your learners. International education is a gateway for teaching the skills for the future, skills that are essential for our pupils. Start small. Do one project. See for yourself.