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Internationals Network is dedicated to providing high-quality public education to recently arrived immigrants and refugees. Rather than delivering language instruction in isolation, the Internationals approach takes an integrated and holistic educational experience—supporting multilingual learners to build community, diverse language skills, and the capacities needed to navigate and thrive in a new country. There are five Core Principles that guide the approach: Heterogeneity and Collaboration, Experiential Learning, Language and Content Integration, Localized Autonomy and Responsibility, and One Learning Model for All. These are reflected in design decisions like interdisciplinary teacher teams, heterogenous student cohorts, an emphasis on both English and home language development through project-based learning, culturally responsive practices, an adult learning model that reflects the student learning model, and more. Through collaborative projects, real-world experiential learning, performance assessments and defenses, and advisory, all learners develop robust language and literacy skills, collaboration skills, agency, and a global perspective. 

Internationals Network has 31 schools and academies across the U.S., reaching over 9,500 learners from over 130 countries and more than 900 educators. Internationals Network works directly with public school districts that serve multilingual youth to implement their approach but does not operate or govern these sites. To support the implementation of their model, Internationals offers deep partnerships locally and nationally, professional development, resources, and more.

  • Language Arts & Literacy
  • Learning Strategies & Habits
  • Relationship Skills
  • Multilingual Learning
  • Project-Based Learning
  • Advisories
  • Career Prep and Work-Based Learning
  • Culturally Relevant Practices
  • Resource Toolkit
  • Professional Development
  • 1:1 Coaching & Consulting

What Makes This Model Innovative?

Connection & Community
Collaborative structures leverage the unique assets of each member of the learning community, nurture meaningful relationships, foster a deep sense of belonging, and encourage peer accountability and support.
Affirmation of Self & Others
The Internationals approach affirms and builds upon learners’ rich linguistic abilities, creating a culture where each learner experiences identity safety and develops respect for the identities of others.
Relevance
Young people have a say in the content they are learning. Experiential learning allows learners to explore topics of interest, bring in their stories as an entry point for accessing learning, and cultivate skills needed to be true multicultural leaders in the 21st century.

Goals

The Internationals approach cultivates diverse capacities that prepare learners for postsecondary success, including college, career, and participation in democratic society.

Collaboration

Learners develop strong collaboration skills, enabling them to learn from and work effectively with heterogeneous groups of people who share diverse perspectives.

Agency

Learners develop the knowledge, skills, and mindsets required to actively drive their learning and exercise their agency in ways that feel good for them, respect their identities, and honor their multilingualism and multiculturalism.

A Global Perspective

Learners develop a global perspective; they grow their understanding of other cultures and people, build from the understandings of others, and think critically about complex issues facing our world today.

Language & Literacy

Learners develop robust language and literacy skills in English and their home languages as well as build the skills needed to continue developing their linguistic abilities beyond graduation.

Experience

The Internationals model is designed around hands-on, experiential, project-based learning where learners develop strong language skills in context. The interdisciplinary program integrates language and content with strong differentiation techniques and uses collaborative structures to tap into learners’ full linguistic repertoire to optimize learning. Course placements and scheduling ensure student groupings are deliberately heterogeneous, while also prioritizing that each student be enrolled in credit-bearing classes required for graduation. This recognizes the diverse levels and areas of knowledge that exist in the student community, enables peer collaboration and support, and emphasizes the importance of attaining a high-school diploma. 

The model has 4 main components—Collaborative Projects, Real-World Experiential Learning, Performance Assessments and Defenses, and Advisories—which help prepare immigrant and refugee multilingual learners for success now and in the future.

Inquiry-driven, project-based learning is the cornerstone of the Internationals instructional model. Through collaborative projects, which are multi-week in duration, learners investigate topics, issues, or concepts that connect to and engage their lived experiences and interests. Teacher teams intentionally design collaborative projects so that they are standards aligned and relevant, reflect the kinds of disciplinary thinking practitioners do in the field, provide learners sufficient time to deeply explore a topic and engage in iterations of research and revision, as well as create opportunities for connections across various subject matter content and extended language learning in all modalities. Additionally, projects reinforce interdisciplinary connections and are open-ended in nature, inviting learners to be creators whose unique experiences and knowledge are essential to the process and product. 

During projects, differentiated scaffolding is important to support learners of various levels. Teachers often begin collaborative projects with an effective hook or motivating activity that taps into learners’ prior knowledge or lived experience of the topic in ways that are accessible, culturally responsive, and engaging. Learners then engage in a series of chunked, intentionally sequenced activities that help them build context, explore new concepts, and rehearse and apply their learning in collaborative ways. Learners are also encouraged to leverage their peers, available resources, feedback, and unique language repertoire and other cultural assets to support their learning. Over the course of the project, teachers adjust scaffolding to encourage learner autonomy as well as use a mixture of one-on-ones, small groups, and whole class time to support learners in meeting content and language objectives. Collaborative projects culminate with a public demonstration of what young people learned. Learning Brief 1 – Series 2, 2023

Internships and work-based learning opportunities with community partners allow learners to strengthen and apply a wide range of academic and language skills in real-world contexts. These opportunities take place throughout 9th–12th grade and mirror the kinds of experiences learners might have in college and in the workplace. Additionally, these experiences are credit-bearing, often paid or provide stipends, and help learners build employability skills like interviewing, resume writing, teamwork, and more. As a way to connect and extend their learning through collaborative projects, real-world learning experiences are scaffolded by teachers and internship placement site staff. All learners, regardless of immigration status, are able to participate in these opportunities. 

Some Internationals schools work directly with mentorship programs (e.g., iMentor, L.O.V.E. Mentoring) to further support learners’ postsecondary success. iMentor L.O.V.E. Mentoring. Through these programs, learners are matched with a first-generation mentor in a chosen career field to provide learners with additional support and guidance. Additionally, some Internationals schools are recognized as Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs where students not only access real-world connected learning, but also participate in coursework and skill building through industry-vetted curricula integrated with career preparatory, work-based learning experiences. CTE students are offered the opportunity to obtain industry-recognized credentials and certifications, which can increase their eligibility for careers in their areas of study.

Learners engage in a rigorous performance assessment process in each content area as a culminating task. The performance assessment defense process requires learners to present their work and overall learning journey, sharing their reflections on how they learn best, challenges they faced during a project, and growth on content knowledge and skills. Over the course of the year, teachers help learners build the skills needed to create compelling presentation materials that showcase their language and content development. Learners are also provided considerable time to revise and practice performance assessment presentations with mentors, advisors, and fellow peers. This process is iterative and deeply learner-centered, allowing learners to self-select when they are ready to defend their work in front of a panel. By graduation, NYC Internationals schools students are required to present a total of six to seven graduation-worthy performance assessments across core content areas. For other regions, performance assessment presentations are part of their schoolwide practice as end of semester assessments.

Advisories typically meet at least two times per week and are an opportunity for learners to receive personalized support. Advisors act as primary advocates for learners and are often the first person young people go to when they have a problem. During advisory, learners receive support with their academic and emergent socio-emotional needs, performance assessment defenses, college application process, and more. Learners have advisory 9th through 12th grade as a way for them to build deep relationships with an advisor and their peers.

Supporting Structures

While many of the individual components of the model could be implemented by any school or academy serving multilingual learners, the model is most successful when all Core Principles are present and when purposeful, strategic shifts are made to the curriculum, school culture, adult roles, and scheduling. Core Principles This requires schools to have decision-making flexibility and authority over these structures.

Learning must be experiential, differentiated, language-rich, collaborative, and build toward graduation requirements. 

To implement the Internationals model, schools will need to adapt their approach to curriculum, instruction, and assessment to support the holistic development of multilingual learners. 

The Internationals approach seamlessly integrates language and content in classes, emphasizing both English and home language development across all modalities. The Network supports teachers in developing curriculum that is standards aligned and enables learners to explore topics relevant to their experiences and identity through experiential, collaborative projects that emphasize deeper learning. Curriculum has an emphasis on oral language development through regular opportunities for learners to engage with each other in formal and informal dialogue. 

In Internationals classrooms, instruction is learner-centered, encourages collaboration, and uses strong scaffolding and differentiation techniques that provide ample opportunities for learners to read, write, listen and speak during instructional time. Classrooms are heterogeneously grouped, which encourages peer collaboration and support. Teacher support is gradually released as learners grow their skills.

The model’s assessment practices recognize the wealth of knowledge learners bring into the classroom, which is why diverse forms of assessment—including performance-based assessments—are used. Along with achievement data, teachers utilize formative assessment practices and performance-based assessment data (e.g., observation records, work samples collected over time) to continually inform their practice and instruction. Competency-based grading aligned to learning standards, while not required, is also employed by NYC Internationals Network schools as a way to better assess and provide direct feedback to students.

Additionally, it is important that all learners be enrolled in credit-bearing classes required for graduation.

School culture must encourage meaningful collaboration, value student and teacher voice, and foster a deep sense of belonging. 

All members of the school community are recognized for their unique strengths. Students and teachers alike are positioned as experts and are encouraged to share their knowledge to support learning. Structures in place should intentionally support collaboration, encourage peer accountability, and ensure everyone is seen, heard, and known. 

While the Internationals model can certainly be implemented at any school serving multilingual youth, schools should be small enough to enable personalization and foster belonging. Schools small enough to foster personalization coupled with heterogeneous student grouping, a cohorted approach, and looping are key structures that support strong relationships under the Internationals model.

School staff must hold high expectations for all learners, actively support their peers’ learning, and be committed to sharing best practices. 

Under the Internationals model, interdisciplinary teacher teams are responsible for whole-child development. Teacher teams are expected to work collaboratively, making strategic instructional decisions to best meet the social-emotional, academic, and physical needs of the learners in their shared cohort. All teachers are content and language teachers, meaning that language development is an important component of all instruction. Adults also hold the pervasive belief in all learners’ abilities to pursue a personally meaningful postsecondary path. 

A culture of transparency and collegiality among staff is also important for the model’s success. Collaborative decision-making and distributed leadership is the norm, where school leadership, staff, parents, and learners are included in decisions. Interdisciplinary teacher teams have a common prep time, further enabling collaboration, cultivating strong relationships, and encouraging shared accountability to learners’ well-being, success, and growth. Clear norms and meeting protocols also help ensure collaborative time together is used effectively. 

An important feature of the Internationals model is that the adult learning model mirrors the student learning model: One Learning Model. They too are put in collaborative groups that work on hands-on projects and engage in collective meaning making. School staff purposefully support their peers’ learning and are expected to participate in the Network’s community of practice, where proven best practices are shared. Internationals Network’s network-wide learning opportunities and in-school teacher team and leadership coaching play an important role in supporting adult learning as they coach staff, connect colleagues in the region, and schedule regular opportunities for teachers and leaders to observe their peers in action.

Scheduling must accommodate collaborative, experiential learning for learners and staff. 

Schedules should prioritize collaborative project-based learning and heterogeneous student cohorts that allow groups of learners to move together throughout the day and be taught by a shared group of teachers. Schedules should also accommodate some form of advisory, where learners can receive whole-child support, as well as real-world experiential learning opportunities with community partners.

Additionally, grade-level interdisciplinary teacher teams and content discipline teams must have significant, regularly scheduled time to collaborate, plan, and engage in professional learning opportunities.

The model requires systematic coordination and strong operations to offer holistic support and services to learners. 

All learners have access to social workers, counselors, and a range of wraparound services that support their academic, health, immigration, and socio-emotional needs. By design, services are offered during the school day as a way to minimize any unwanted attention or judgment around accessing these services. It is important for services to be language accessible and are offered in age-appropriate ways like providing meals during after-school clubs and activities. Given the unique needs immigrant youth face, implementing sites should offer extensive, culturally responsive, and holistic supports that meet their emergent needs. 

For example, some of the Internationals schools are community schools that provide wraparound services that support the whole child, the child’s family, and learning both inside and outside of the classroom (e.g., school-based health services, arts/music lessons, adult education classes, training for parent leaders).

Learning must be experiential, differentiated, language-rich, collaborative, and build toward graduation requirements. 

To implement the Internationals model, schools will need to adapt their approach to curriculum, instruction, and assessment to support the holistic development of multilingual learners. 

The Internationals approach seamlessly integrates language and content in classes, emphasizing both English and home language development across all modalities. The Network supports teachers in developing curriculum that is standards aligned and enables learners to explore topics relevant to their experiences and identity through experiential, collaborative projects that emphasize deeper learning. Curriculum has an emphasis on oral language development through regular opportunities for learners to engage with each other in formal and informal dialogue. 

In Internationals classrooms, instruction is learner-centered, encourages collaboration, and uses strong scaffolding and differentiation techniques that provide ample opportunities for learners to read, write, listen and speak during instructional time. Classrooms are heterogeneously grouped, which encourages peer collaboration and support. Teacher support is gradually released as learners grow their skills.

The model’s assessment practices recognize the wealth of knowledge learners bring into the classroom, which is why diverse forms of assessment—including performance-based assessments—are used. Along with achievement data, teachers utilize formative assessment practices and performance-based assessment data (e.g., observation records, work samples collected over time) to continually inform their practice and instruction. Competency-based grading aligned to learning standards, while not required, is also employed by NYC Internationals Network schools as a way to better assess and provide direct feedback to students.

Additionally, it is important that all learners be enrolled in credit-bearing classes required for graduation.

School culture must encourage meaningful collaboration, value student and teacher voice, and foster a deep sense of belonging. 

All members of the school community are recognized for their unique strengths. Students and teachers alike are positioned as experts and are encouraged to share their knowledge to support learning. Structures in place should intentionally support collaboration, encourage peer accountability, and ensure everyone is seen, heard, and known. 

While the Internationals model can certainly be implemented at any school serving multilingual youth, schools should be small enough to enable personalization and foster belonging. Schools small enough to foster personalization coupled with heterogeneous student grouping, a cohorted approach, and looping are key structures that support strong relationships under the Internationals model.

School staff must hold high expectations for all learners, actively support their peers’ learning, and be committed to sharing best practices. 

Under the Internationals model, interdisciplinary teacher teams are responsible for whole-child development. Teacher teams are expected to work collaboratively, making strategic instructional decisions to best meet the social-emotional, academic, and physical needs of the learners in their shared cohort. All teachers are content and language teachers, meaning that language development is an important component of all instruction. Adults also hold the pervasive belief in all learners’ abilities to pursue a personally meaningful postsecondary path. 

A culture of transparency and collegiality among staff is also important for the model’s success. Collaborative decision-making and distributed leadership is the norm, where school leadership, staff, parents, and learners are included in decisions. Interdisciplinary teacher teams have a common prep time, further enabling collaboration, cultivating strong relationships, and encouraging shared accountability to learners’ well-being, success, and growth. Clear norms and meeting protocols also help ensure collaborative time together is used effectively. 

An important feature of the Internationals model is that the adult learning model mirrors the student learning model: One Learning Model. They too are put in collaborative groups that work on hands-on projects and engage in collective meaning making. School staff purposefully support their peers’ learning and are expected to participate in the Network’s community of practice, where proven best practices are shared. Internationals Network’s network-wide learning opportunities and in-school teacher team and leadership coaching play an important role in supporting adult learning as they coach staff, connect colleagues in the region, and schedule regular opportunities for teachers and leaders to observe their peers in action.

Scheduling must accommodate collaborative, experiential learning for learners and staff. 

Schedules should prioritize collaborative project-based learning and heterogeneous student cohorts that allow groups of learners to move together throughout the day and be taught by a shared group of teachers. Schedules should also accommodate some form of advisory, where learners can receive whole-child support, as well as real-world experiential learning opportunities with community partners.

Additionally, grade-level interdisciplinary teacher teams and content discipline teams must have significant, regularly scheduled time to collaborate, plan, and engage in professional learning opportunities.

The model requires systematic coordination and strong operations to offer holistic support and services to learners. 

All learners have access to social workers, counselors, and a range of wraparound services that support their academic, health, immigration, and socio-emotional needs. By design, services are offered during the school day as a way to minimize any unwanted attention or judgment around accessing these services. It is important for services to be language accessible and are offered in age-appropriate ways like providing meals during after-school clubs and activities. Given the unique needs immigrant youth face, implementing sites should offer extensive, culturally responsive, and holistic supports that meet their emergent needs. 

For example, some of the Internationals schools are community schools that provide wraparound services that support the whole child, the child’s family, and learning both inside and outside of the classroom (e.g., school-based health services, arts/music lessons, adult education classes, training for parent leaders).

Supports Offered

Internationals Network offers the following supports to help you implement their approach. Internationals suggests that you consult with the network around training and support when considering the implementation of the model in your system or site.

New Initiatives
Cost Associated

Internationals Network partners with school districts and community organizations to design and implement the Internationals model in schools and academies that serve refugee and recent immigrant multilingual learners. This offering is customized to the district’s needs and based on a menu of services, including: 

  • Exploring possibilities through immersive visits and learning experiences
  • Building foundations through educator and change agent cohorts 
  • Implementing the model through leadership coaching and mentorship, professional development experiences and program design
  • Sustaining the model through follow-up supports, consultancies and network learning
Professional Development
Cost Associated

Internationals Network offers a host of professional development opportunities that embody the creative, collaborative, and equity-driven ethos of the learning communities they serve. All professional development opportunities are intentionally designed to simulate the five Core Principles of the Internationals model, meaning that their offerings provide immersive exploration and inquiry, model collaborative structures and routines, tap into and support the diverse assets of a heterogeneous group of practitioners, demonstrate effective use of well-scaffolded activities and curricular materials, and are deeply learner-centered.

Resource Bank for Supporting Multilingual Learners
Free

This resource bank brings together ideas, strategies, and tools for practitioners to effectively plan and collaborate to support multilingual learners in their learning environments. Resources include: 

  • Curriculum planning resources
  • Curriculum and project examples
  • Heterogeneity and collaboration supports and structures 
  • Language and content integration strategies
  • Promising practice share videos
  • Resources for educator collaboration

Reach

31
Schools & Academies
6
States & DC
9,500+
Students
1,000+
Educators

Impact

Learners across Internationals Network schools and academies graduate at higher rates than their peers in traditional schools who enter school classified as English language learners (ELLs).  A Multi-Faceted, Research-Based Approach to Serving Newcomers ELLs

Additionally, a study funded by the WT Grant Foundation found that positive school climate in Internationals Network schools is statistically correlated with improved outcomes, including their higher graduation rates on average. Addressing and Dismantling Intersecting Inequities to Promote Educational Justice for Newcomer Youth

International Network learners report high levels of belonging and a deep sense of community. Our Impact, 2023

  • Across Network schools, learners report high levels of belonging and feeling like they matter as individuals and learners.
  • Across Network schools, learners feel like they are “part of a global community.” 
  • Across Network schools, learners report valuing the relationships they have built with peers and teachers in their learning community.

After engaging in Internationals’ professional development opportunities, 93% of practitioners reported feeling more prepared to support their multilingual learners (Our Impact, 2023).

Contact

Dolan Morgan
Sr. Director of Programs