The Associated Schools Network (ASPnet) Community of Practice in Teacher Education came together from 31 May to 4 June 2021 for a global technical meeting to share and explore innovative approaches in teacher education for towards transformative education.
This global meeting, unprecedented in scale and size for bringing together Teacher Education Institutes (TEIs) of ASPnet community, was initially scheduled to take place in Nairobi, Kenya last year, but due to the current situation took place online with over 60 participants from 18 countries connected to discuss on how TEIs play more proactive role to promote transformative education through Global Citizenship Education and Education for Sustainable Development. The participants are part of a community of practice, including deans, teacher trainers, teacher students as well as ASPnet National Coordinators, out of the overall number of 104 TEIs in 32 countries forming part of ASPnet.
Building a Community of Practice bound by shared expertise and values
Thinking and learning through actionable insights: "SDGs are all around us"
Arjen Wals, Professor of Transformative Learning for Social-Ecological Sustainability at Wageningen University and UNESCO Chair of Social Learning and Sustainable Development, presented an inspiring opening keynote, with memorable food for thought, including that "SDGs are all around us", and illustrative practical examples for action, such as: "a small tea bag can make us think how all 17 SDGs are connected on issues such as climate change, gender, pollution, partnership".
Felisa Tibbitts, Chair in Human Rights Education at Utrecht University and Lecturer at the Teacher College, Columbia University, gave a highly informative presentation on innovative education, focussing on how education can change societies through GCED and ESD. Participants showed how her concepts are relevant to ideas and solutions in their contexts through feedback via 'Jam Board', an online tool that enables participants to share comments and feedback, visible to all by posting them on the virtual board online.
"Understanding the difference in the other"
One example of a training workshop are the "story circles" presented by our colleagues from the Social and Human Sciences sector, which prompted enthusiastic engagement from participants, reflected in feedback, including the characteristics of a good listener as "someone with big ears and small mouth, interested in the other and interested in understanding the difference in the other", or the experience of a teaching student: "It made me become a better listener and we are all the same, human beings, despite our different colours", as well as the that of another participant: "We were in this amazing listening circle, sharing and respecting different perspectives".
Empowering transformative education
Beyond providing inspiration and the deepening of understanding of Global Citizenship Education and Education for Sustainable Development as fundamental building blocks of transformative education, one of the major significant outcomes of the meeting was the endorsement of a "Joint Invitation" document – by a collective "online clap", a living and evolving statement by the ASPnet.
TEI community, outlining the shared vision, aspirations, commitments and recommendations by and for ASPnet TEIS and beyond. This living document serves as a starting point for future ideas and initiatives of collaboration on national and international levels, local learning and actions thus assuring a much-strengthened networking and activity within ASPnet.
In her closing remarks, Julie Saito, International ASPnet coordinator, summarized the sessions and discussions during the meeting as "full, rich of information, inspiration, exchange and creativity" and acknowledged the high quality of presentations and discussions, thanks to "the impressive group of people … to have come together", mobilizing and encouraging the renewed enthusiasm for action: "You are the changemakers for the teacher education and training! So let us build our shared futures together!"
"We need to apply thinking to innovative learning"
"I need to learn to do what I do better and learn to do better things"
"Without hope, there is no action"
"Local resourses are the treasure of learning"
"Sustainability is not just something to learn, it is something to live!"
"We need to rethink how we think!"
A resource kit for TEIs and anyone interested, providing detailed information on the sessions of the meeting, including presentations, videos, participants' discussions and feedback has been developed and can be found here.
The global meeting as part of the Change Initiative is under the overall programme "Teacher Training in Support of Global Citizenship Education for Sustainable Development", which is funded through the UNESCO-Hainan Provincial People's Government Fund for the UNESCO Associated Schools Network (ASPnet).