How International is Your School? An Evidence-Gathering Exercise

Look around! How international is your school? Photo: Asia Society.
How international is your school? There are many ways to measure, and one of the most telling is the visual evidence that reflect teaching and learning. This exercise allows educators to observe and have meaningful exchange about the level of internationalization the school achieved. This could be used by school faculty and with visitors from other schools.

The protocol is based on the Collaborative Assessment Conference and it focuses on observation in a non-evaluative way. It can help hosting educators look critically at their own school and, if hosting others, the school can harvest feedback from their visitors. Likewise, visitors learn quite a bit by evaluating another school and reflecting on their own schools' practices.

About one hour. This protocol can be done during regular school hours or after school

School Walk
Pair up (in cross-school pairs if hosting) and walk through the school for 20-30 minutes. Make non-evaluative observations, avoiding qualitative judgments about what you see.  As you walk, discuss the following questions:

  • What do you see that is clearly international?
  • What don’t you see?  Were there missed opportunities to infuse international content or understandings?
  • What questions do you have about the school's vision, mission, culture, or practice?
  • What do you believe this school is in process of doing to meet new goals or create new programs?

If you are a member of the school’s faculty as part of a pair, don’t give a tour, explain, apologize or show off. Look at your school and participate in the protocol with a beginner’s mind.

Sharing Observations
Return to the large group and share your findings on the questions in sequence.  A member of the school staff may want to record the responses on chart paper for future reference.

Host Reflections
People in the group who work in the school reflect aloud on what they heard that surprised and interested them and what they saw during their walk that was new.

Implications for Education
Discuss the implications of the observations for bringing a greater international focus to a school. 

Debriefing the Protocol
Debrief the protocol. Was it valuable? How could it have been better? How might this protocol be put to use in the future?

If this protocol is used with staff members rather than visitors, use the responses from those who did the school walk as the evidence that the group uses to assess the levels of internationalization or specific trends seen in the evidence.

Protocols are most powerful and effective when used within an ongoing professional learning community such as a Critical Friends Group® and facilitated by a skilled coach. To learn more about professional learning communities and seminars for new or experienced coaches, please visit the National School Reform Faculty website at

Author: Shari Albright

Adapted from the School Walk Protocol developed by Edorah Frazer and also from the Collaborative Assessment Conference developed by Steve Seidel.