Strasbourg - Toronto Catholic
In early June 2014, Ms. Marie-Christine Miller, the Head of International Relations of the Académie of Strasbourg, France, travelled to Toronto to meet with a brand-new Canadian partner institution: the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB).
The parties involved signed a cooperative agreement that includes a list of points of interest for each of the two partners: though language-oriented projects (French students learning English and students from Toronto learning French) are indeed an important part of the agreement, this aspect of things was not the only issue that was discussed, as both institutions also decided to discuss other, broader educational issues focused on student success. The two partners will do their best to facilitate contact between teachers and management personnel, and both expect mutual benefits by comparing and sharing their methods. Partners in both countries have already reached a high level of expertise in this respect, but this offers them a new opportunity to identify and analyze differences in terms of philosophy and practices in order to determine how much they contribute to student success.
Click here to read an article on the website of the Toronto Catholic District School Board
As is always the case in this type of partnership, the challenge consists of overcoming difficulties presented by budgetary resources — which are often limited — and by staff availability, as teachers and executives are busy with their daily tasks. Web-based exchanges provide a partial answer to budget-management concerns, as tools become more numerous and more accessible every day. With regard to the issue of already-packed agendas, the tip is to progressively integrate discussions so that they have a direct impact on daily work without making unreasonable additions to existing day-to-day responsibilities. One particular challenge for management personnel is that they must precisely identify topics for discussion, gambling that discussions will provide concrete answers to their professional concerns and ideas to improve not only the handling of their projects but also the results and returns of these projects.
For teachers, the challenge seems less difficult at first glance, as it consists of integrating interaction with the foreign partner into day-to-day class activities. It also involves methodologies with which the teachers are somehow familiar: Canadian teachers know how to work as a team (with the expansion of professional learning communities in and between schools), while French teachers are accustomed to running international class projects: the methods of teachers from each of the two countries should therefore complement one another effectively!