Monday, March 8, 2010

Rant: Global Collaborations Tar/Glue/Taffy

I have the understanding, on an intellectual level, that it's not a good idea to blog when you're upset or frustrated. Sometimes, things come out emotionally, and perhaps the lack of equanimity encourages one to say things she later regrets. Equanimity be darned: Global Partnerships are freaking hard!! I'm of the school of thought that your state of mind determines much of the outcomes of various situations. Positivity and stick-to-itiveness comprise the backbones of my approach to life and work. So, it irks me to the core when things don't work the way I'd planned due to circumstances beyond my control.

Case in point: I'm a Global Partnerships Director. Sounds good. I aid schools in developing collaborative, web-based partnerships with partner schools in developing nations. The American schools often start by visiting the overseas schools and performing a service project. It is then our hope that schools will want to continue that relationship, and expand it. A teacher either volunteers or is assigned by administration to participate in the partnership. My job is to help with curriculum ideas and keep the projects on track, time-wise and quality-wise.

Herein lies the rub: I never dreamed it would be so hard to get people to keep talking to one another. Class schedules, daily schedules, vacation schedules, time zones, language differences, standardized testing, extra-curricular components--all of these things impede even the best of intentions for my participating teachers. I even have one teacher that would dedicate ALL of her time to this partnership and we can't get the OTHER end of her partnership to collaborate because of, well, all of the aforementioned. This is discouraging for her, discouraging for me. When I started this job, I had big dreams of "CHALLENGE-BASED" experiences for students. They would grapple with a serious global issue and ponder solutions with a partner class. There are inklings, true, of this happening, but only inklings. My boss tells me that's because what we're doing is hard. Is it really that hard? I feel as if I am perpetually stuck in glue or taffy, making occasional steps forward but at great effort. What's that they say, nothing easy was ever worth doing? Cliche. Doesn't help right now.

If I step back and take a deep breath, I am sure it is a microcosmic model of the difficulty of global partnerships at an international level. Intention is perhaps not all that is necessary--which is a tough pill for me to swallow. I'll keep plugging away because that is my modus operandi. In the meantime, I feel better to have ranted a bit.

Creative Commons Image License: Justin Marty


Justin said...

Perhaps educational systems around the world aren't quite ready for the service you and your venture offer. Maybe you guys are just a little ahead of the curve. The rest of us are coming around. The future is globalization, and its already affected nearly everything, why not education?

-Justin Marty

Alecia Berman-Dry said...

Okay, that kind of placates me a bit. Thanks, Justin.