In the United States and abroad, the future of education is deeply linked to the future of cities. Today, half of all humanity lives in cities. In North America, the figure is 80 percent, and the pace of urbanization in Asia is unprecedented.
That’s why educators from five cities in Asia and four cities in North America—Chicago, Denver, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Seattle, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, and Toronto-- came together last year to form the Global Cities Education Network, with the support of The Asia Society.
Last week, representatives from those cities met at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Seattle campus to discuss two common problems in education: how to develop high-quality teaching and how to improve achievement for low-achieving and culturally and linguistically diverse students.
The Asia Society is a New York-based nonprofit whose education mission is to develop all students to be well educated, globally competent citizens by equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed in an increasingly interdependent world.
The Global Cities network brings together a core group of influential stakeholders from key cities in North America and Asia to work together to understand common problems in education, design flexible solutions, catalyze changes in policy and practice, and develop public demand for innovation.
At last week’s gathering, Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor from the Stanford Graduate School of Education, presented a draft case study of policies and practices to improve teaching, drawing on lessons from Melbourne, Singapore, and Toronto.
Despite their differences, she identified nine common elements these cities have used to improve teaching quality: create an attractive, respected profession; set professional teaching standards; recruit proactively; offer intensive clinical preparation; ensure quality mentoring; support collaborative inquiry by teachers; connect evaluation to professional learning; develop leadership; and invest in teachers’ collective capacity.
Equally important, all three cities are taking a systems approach to teaching—from initial recruitment through retirement—and working actively to connect the dots and fill in any missing pieces.
They’re also ensuring that teachers are co-constructors of the learning process, including self-directed, relevant, sustained, and job-embedded teacher development.
We have a lot to learn from those examples! Kudos to the U.S. cities which are learning from those lessons and sharing lessons of their own.