The way we communicate and engage with one another has definitely taken a big turn since our engagement in social media. Social networking is reshaping our world, so much so that it is speculated that about 3 billion people will be on social media by 2020 – that is a third of earths’ population! Consequently, internet language has also evolved considerably. One common way of communicating has been the use of emojis and hashtags. If overused, they can be annoying. However, it’s hard to deny that using digital images and catchy connotations can help convey ideas in a way that text alone sometimes lacks.
I personally use a myriad of emojis to express my “in the moment” feelings, but I also like to use hashtags to express my ideological views, especially regarding education. Just like a picture can say a thousand words, hashtags can sum up our feelings and relatable experiences.
I often use my favorite hashtags #eabhconnection and #ittakesavillage in the context of our school. The “EABH Connection” is an expression we coined to capture the essence of our school culture. It’s targeted to EABH community members that experience our school ethos by engaging in daily school affairs and special events that involve all stakeholders.
“It takes a village to raise a child” is an old African adage that encapsulates the communal effort of caring for a child. Today’s fast-paced world is filled with instant information and pressure-packed moments. The age-old village model where people work together to help each other out has never been more necessary than it is today to achieve our mission to “prepare students in a well-supported international setting for a fulfilling life as world citizens.”
At EABH, we work hard to establish strong community partners for our village approach. It’s hard to ignore the dangers our children face today, and it’s easy to want to build a barrier to protect them from the world around us. However, we know that isolation won’t provide the skills and experience children need to make appropriate choices and actions. We must engage in each other’s lives now in order to collectively foster the development of all of our children.
Working together entails establishing partnership, developing trust, and engaging in collaboration. Partnership is established when two or more people or organization commit to achieve something together. Trust is earned when you’ve proven yourself to be reliable based on your actions and pledge to principles. When you have a trusting partnership, you can then collaborate at a high level.
Collaboration is more than just cooperation. Cooperation entails agreement and compliance. Collaboration is cooperation plus innovation. It’s a higher level of thinking and doing on Bloom’s taxonomy hierarchy. Collaboration exhibits our willfulness to fulfill our mission, but it also pushes our performance to the next level to achieve our vision.
At EABH, our village approach is cultivated through our collaborative work. Every community member is a collaborator. When we think of schools, we normally think of teachers and support staff, and not always our behind the scenes staff members such as our guards, cooks, and maintenance and cleaning crew. Beyond their respective daily duties of being vigilant, serving food, repairing, and serving food, our staff members are expected to know how their work is part of a bigger system and how their actions can make the system better. With a continuous improvement mentality, our staff takes the time to learn English taught by our high school students, participate in IB workshops offered by our teachers, and engage in training about first aid and fire safety, as well as food manipulation in relation to hygiene, allergy, and intolerance. This level of collaboration is needed to not only keep our school safe and clean, but also critical for intentionally creating an environment that is conducive to learning.
Our teachers and support staff engage in a myriad of professional development at school. Due to teachers’ direct contact with students in the teaching and learning process, we invest the most in our teachers. But the highest level of collaboration takes place when our homeroom and specialist teachers as well as our administrators engage in Professional Learning Community (PLC). During this time, teachers apply their knowledge to help one another fine tune their practice to increase student achievement. Teachers analyze student work, identify exemplars, evaluate assessments, and synthesize standards to the learning experience when writing the curriculum. This interactive engagement of teachers is a high level of collaboration needed to create meaningful and authentic learning experiences for students.
Engaging our staff and teachers in collaboration is not complete and comprehensive without the involvement of parents. Often times, it’s easy to presume that teachers are the sole responsible figures for our student education. However, research demonstrates over and over that parent involvement is important for student success. Parents serving as board members offer their skills and expertise for strategic planning and good governance of the school. On a more regular and on the ground basis, we have parents that belong to the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) that plan and collaborate with the school.
The PTA plays an important role at school. As our PTA President Renata Baratz explains, the PTA is a plusat school. The PTA is not just a club that just organizes fun events. Their contribution is greater than this. They align their fundraising efforts to the school’s mission and current needs, so that together we can advocate for our children’s well-being and support the educational aims of school.
To top it off, we also collaborate with external partners to innovate our practice. With our partnerships with various organizations such as UFMG microbiology labs, Fablab, Buddys, Minas Organic, and the Association of Buritis, just to name a few, we are able to deepen our practice and accelerate our outreach.
The effective management of our school is a collective action that involves the evaluation of our strategic programs that are systematic, but also the deep involvement of all stakeholders that are systemic. #Ittakesavillage is not just ahashtag influencing our attitudes and behavior on social media. It is about building trust and forming healthy working relationships so that our collaborative efforts help us achieve our vision.
#Ittakesavillage is about ordinary people coming together to do extraordinary things. Collaboration is our sustainable model for staying connected and joining forces to not only survive but also thrive in our fast-paced and “ever-changing world.”