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  • Writer's pictureJusJo

The International BUG!

Updated: Apr 11, 2021

FreshAz Education's insanely hooked on connectivity and partnerships within and beyond NZ. There's the networking bug - the connectivity bug - and now it's as if we've caught the 'International bug' like one could catch the great 'OE Bug'.

In the early 70s, IYS (International Youth Service - based in Finland: view tribute) operated a global serving penpal service - linking kids from around the world as penpals. It was as if the 'bug' was caught then - the craving - the love affair with the cultural heart beat and the good ol' travel bug was very much begging etc.

There was a certain primary aged farm girl, deep in the heart of Central Otago, who scored dozens of letters a year from penpals around the world enroute. FINLAND - FreshAz Education's hot spot destination for all number of educational insights and guides was leading the way then - with those letters. Finland, was reaching out - and NZ was buying in.

Fast track to the mid 1990's and became the coolest site to connect with as a teacher - as that once was 'farm girl' who got far more mail than could be dreamed of! When along came the SDGs - FreshAz adopted and programmed all it did, alongside. In practice, it duly aligned the UN's goal for education, into the heart of NZ.

But, teaching in NZ has been perhaps the biggest struggle FreshAz teachers have faced - so locked up is NZ, in its attempt to conform the way students think and control every aspect of their learning and life. Thankfully, the opportunities for FreshAz to work outside the box has given scope to be involved in a very radical way of operating. Delving into what quality education looks like, as been - on the whole, an absolute joy. All duly accountable for Goal 4: Quality Education - Ensure exclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. To be FreshAz in our approach - best we then model it. It was harder than envisaged...

A rough edge exists... Having had some of us weather more extensive classroom teaching roles recently, it's sad to find that much of what is still expected - is very 1970-1990'ish in style - hence the 'weathering'. Many students are not succeeding in our rigid system that limits their curious natures and personal passions. Measuring success is interesting also. Locally, the 'achieving at' status can appear all's well, but when compared globally, it's just sad. When tuning in what the kids know of their world - is even sadder. When it comes to their view regards participation and contributing - oh dear, there is little drive, sense of why - or example for them to buy into.

Our education system is very NZ-centric - and despite all endeavours of some, it seems extremely reluctant to adopt a global edged focus. To compensate, FreshAz has ventured out of NZ, to find the means to create more balance for the kids we reach. It's next to impossible however, to gell both, when trying to keep one particular principal happy - for it means push-back on spending 3 hours a day running 'differentiated' Y1-4 like groups for Y6-7 students - for example (an hour each re: writing, maths and reading).

The blessing that's been FreshAz Education, is the blessing in turn that's enjoyed the freedom to venture abroad.

The INTERNATIONAL BUG caught during the farm-girl era - now finds itself firmly engaged in THREE key communities - where invitations to go deeper within their hearts is almost beyond comprehension for little ol' NZ...

WHATsAPP: 70 Teaching Partners

Little did I know, that when accepting the invite from a teacher in Mexico to join a 'team of teachers' - it would duly see a partnership play out that's simply gob-smacking. It lead to a connection where 70 other teachers world wide, would eventually work together, work for each other's classes - and provide a natural source of professional development and support. Throughout South America in particular and into Europe, the Middle East and Asia - everything from lockdown support to loosing colleagues to Covid - and watching each other's backs for burn out, evolved. At any one time, a Zoom class may involve kids from several countries - with a team teaching approach in facilitation mode. The key deal? Learning English - but woven in are lessons that are culturally rich - musically entertaining and so naturally authentic.


While IYS was once the hub of penpal services, is now. Armed with the SDGs, and flipgrid, the determination to at least integrate raw 1970-90s teaching expectations in one NZ school, saw a gem of deal dial in.

Three countries teamed up; like minded teachers equipped their kids with a SDG challenge and a future thinking - and 'Nek Minit' teams of kids became architects. Tiny homes were designed, sustainable living was included and 3D rendering of plans were coupled with voice over walk throughs and a SDG compatible ethos. Students were very much part of a PhenoBL process - wrapping up with peer reviews, tweaks, life-long friendships and international partnerships on a global stage. The kids ranged from 9-13 years old. Twas that most beautiful case of 'don't underestimate the kid' - and when the student can be at the heart of their story, be encouraged as to how solid they'll be as our next generation of movers and shakers - impact makers and guardians of our globe. A snapshot of more...

NZ-Singapore Company Partnership Early 2021, Phase 2 of a pilot service - launched a FreshAz and Singaporean educator together, as Directors of a teaching English online service. In partnership with National Geographic and UK certification authorities, the customisation of language support goes to a new level. 12 year old NZ students found themselves introduced to Mandarin from an Indian resident of Singapore fluent in Mandarin and sponsored to teach by a Singaporean business rep. An NZ journalist turned Secondary School English teacher - facilitates lessons to students Indonesia, while beaming from Auckland is a coach who's been approached to coach the coaches beaming out of the Philippines - for students world wide. Refugees, Migrants, business sector leaders and so on... Building teams and their accompanying supports is all go... Given time - all three will be able to lean in together and form a mutual partnership co-constructing supports and benefitting 100s of students.

It all deepened in focus when the 2015-2030 Sustainable Development Goals were launched by the UN. Imagine if all curricula world wide would adopt these as the framework for all they do...? The somewhat tiring attention to future focused edges becomes naturally entwined within all. The engagement factor for middle -senior school student in particular should be full on... Our future can't help but look bright! All it takes is the art of succumbing to the International Bug - going global with programming.

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