Global Learning: The Key to Understanding and Change— Spotlight on Kathy Patton

Everywhere across the world, people learn. A good education is essential to build a better world — Author Unknown

It is an honor to share not only a colleague but a dear friend with you. Kathy and I were colleagues at the University of Minnesota. Although our time working together was short, this influential woman has the ability to inspire all who have the privilege of working with or learning from her. Here are a few highlights from our conversation. Enjoy!

Kathy is currently a kindergarten teacher at an International School in Switzerland. Before this, she was a Master Coach for Minnesota Reading Corps and Lead Literacy Specialist for PRESS at the University of Minnesota. She has presented at local, national, and international conferences. Kathy has also been a reading intervention and fourth grade teacher. Kathy holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Gustavus Adolphus College, a Master’s Degree in Education and a K-12 Reading License from Saint Mary’s University in Minnesota and is currently working on getting an International EAL Certificate.

A Minnesota teacher and her family adjusting to teaching and learning in Switzerland.

I can relate to the families when they come and also being a parent here myself. I can understand what they are going through when they transition into the school and provide that lens for them as well. So so that’s really helpful. I can see both sides of the coin, I guess when it comes to going to school at an international school.

My school is mostly International. We have a few Swiss children, but not very many, they typically will go to the local school, because international schools are quite expensive. We are in the capital of Switzerland, so we have a lot of children of ambassadors and people that work at the embassy. We have people that come and go from many different countries. This year I have a student from a different country. Very few of them have a mother tongue language of English. It’s very important to use good practices. So they learn English, and I think kindergarten is one of the best places to do that, because we do so much hands-on learning and use visuals. It’s just been amazing for me to learn about different schooling systems around the world, from the students and their families. I really only knew about the US system for the most part before. And now having students from other places, or going home to other places, or moving to different countries, I’m learning more about different expectations and different styles in kindergarten, for example, and what they’re going to when they maybe go home, and what their parents are expecting from our school. We need to ensure their child’s success no matter where they go. Oftentimes, students will be going to a different school in a different country. Many children are moving every two to five year. It’s a very mobile population. But they’re also supported by their families, and they’re coming here, mostly by choice.

Importance of learning globally through an International Baccalaureate program.

Parents, typically dad’s are highly educated. Parents work at the embassy or corporations. Kathy doesn’t see the same challenges of poverty that she encountered in the classroom in the United States since she either worked in low income or high Title one schools. And so it was definitely a shift in that sense. But it’s just a different reality for these families. Because oftentimes, they know they’re only here temporarily, or they’re new, they’re moving. So it’s different, I would say a challenging opportunity, I guess is the right way to look at it. But it is hard, I think sometimes for the students, for sure. And then their parents, you know, and so we’re helping work through the transitions and changes that they’re going through. And thankfully, my own children went through it. I can see the parents’ side and see the students’ side, when I am able to look at my own children who experienced the same thing.

Working in an international baccalaureate school, I think one thing that I love about this program and this work and just being an international school in general is the the Care for the world. rather than, like just just a small, I care for my community or care for myself kind of mentality like that. And I think that is really promoted and encouraged in IB schools. And I think it’s starting to shift in other places as well, not just an IB. International schools are trying to be respectful of their entire population, and the fact that we have a global society. I hope that movement spreads to the US that it’s not just about my city, about my state, about my country, it’s about the world. So students learn that what I do impacts the world, and the value of learning globally, and supporting our whole planet. My husband, and I both feel for our own kids is to expose them to the bigger world and the importance of appreciating and valuing the diversity that we have all over the planet and for different people and perspectives.

Impact and power of teachers

Something that I’ve really realized here in Switzerland, is the impact and the power of teachers. Personally, as a teacher, my favorite people are my colleagues, they’ve had such an impact on me. People really need to appreciate teachers and value them and realize the amazing work that they’re doing every single day.

To hear the rest of the interview with Kathy, join us for the second Learning For Life Virtual Summit, March 31st and April 1st. Please take a moment to click this link to sign up for your FREE ticket to the Learning For Life Summit. Can’t wait to see you there!

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”

Frederick Douglass

The joy is in the journey!

Blessings and Peace,

Mary