Five Highlights from the Global Education & Skills Forum 2018


This week marked the sixth annual global education and skills forum; an initiative by the Varkey Foundation where education practitioners, policy makers and distinguished members of international organizations get together to discuss pressing issues in global education. This year’s theme was how to prepare learners today for 2030 and beyond. This year, entrepreneurship was highlighted via the Next Billion EdTech Prize where initiatives in education from around the globe were featured for the work and change they try to make in global education. On behalf of the KDSL Global team, I attended this year’s forum and got to engage in interesting conversations with some of the speakers and delegates from around the world. If you didn’t make it to the forum this year, no worries! Here are some common insights we observed emerging among speakers and sessions:

1.   The Incorporation of Augmented and Virtual Reality in Pedagogy Design Should Be Prioritized:

Not limited to STEM, AR and VR should be part of today’s learning. Immersive learning, in order to be effective, should aim for exposing students to digital storytelling as a step forward to teaching empathy and global citizenship. Such technologies, then, need to be looked as a learning experience rather than a tool in order to reach the desired outcomes of 2030. Teachers and school leaders should plan for professional development experiences that support envisioning teaching in light with EdTech. Here is an interesting article you might want to read on the topic, and if you are wondering how the future in emerging economies would look like, you might want to join Mr. Fiebeg; the Co-Founder of Coders Trust in a virtual journey here.

2.   The Role of Socio-emotional Intelligence in Promoting Innovation and Well-being:

Almost all sessions pressed on that education should aim for preparing independent empathetic learners who are empowered with skills and attitudes that are core to solving local and global issues. With the skills gap that employers have reported in several studies, fresh graduates seem to lack the soft skills that enable them to be innovative and more understanding of the global market’s needs. For that, many speakers stressed the importance for paying more attention to emotional intelligence in school communities. I personally enjoyed this session on teaching young people empathy and why it is needed now.

To read the complete post from our KDSL Global Teacher Fellow Hiba Ibrahim visit


The Future of Professional Learning

debdelisle             hirsh             audie

Deb Delisle                              Stephanie Hirsh                          Audie Rubin

When it comes to the all-important topic of professional learning, what has the future got in store? We recently asked a few key players in the field for their views.

How do we define ‘professional learning’? The definition has many strands, but at its core most educators will agree with this definition given by professional learning organization Learning Forward:

“Professional learning is an integral part of a school’s strategy for providing educators with the knowledge and skills necessary to enable students to succeed in a well-rounded education and to meet the challenging State academic standards.”

Deborah Delisle’40 year career in education spans numerous roles including elementary school principal and Executive Director of ASCD, an organization dedicated to excellence in both learning and teaching. In 2012, she was chosen by President Obama to be the US Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education, where she coordinated policy for programs designed to improve achievement in school-age children.

Deb’s view on the future of professional learning:

“Professional learning will become more personalized with educators creating opportunities that they need through networking, collaboration, and relying more on colleagues rather than external experts.  Practitioners will share their practices widely through a variety of forums.  Teachers’ voices will become increasingly important as our recognition of practitioners’ expertise increases.”


Stephanie Hirsh has worked as a secondary school teacher, Texas school district administrator, writer and policy advisor, and is now the Executive Director of Learning Forward, an organization that believes that effective professional development is essential to improving student learning.

Stephanie’s view on the future of professional learning:

“The future of professional learning is intact as long as the world continues to change and our expectations and desires for our students changes with it.  Educators will always be in need of acquiring new knowledge and skills essential to reaching all students. As we say at Learning Forward, at school, everyone’s job is to learn.”


A former teacher and school principal, Audie Rubin is now the Director of Strategic Partnerships at BloomBoard where he works across a diverse set of content and business partners in K-12 education. Prior to that, Audie worked for Pearson Learning Solutions and has significant experience in the realm of online learning opportunities and blended learning curriculum.


Audie’s view on the future of professional learning:

“There has been a huge investment in professional development but there isn’t necessarily always a great return on investment. This is now starting to change as many focus on more applied learning, and more demonstrating. Earning microcredentials – a form of professional development where teachers work towards competency in one area – may be the way forward.”


For more information on ASCD:

For more information on Forward Learning:

For more information on BloomBoard:


What risk are you willing to take?

MidSchoolMath National Conference 2016

MidSchoolMath was founded as a direct result of extensive research into the US math crisis and the complexity of the problem. It is the first company to answer the quintessential question posed by every middle school math student: “When am I going to ever use this?” At the National Conference held during 2-3 March 2018 in Sante Fe, New Mexico, Megan LeBleu gave a talk to educators about the importance of taking risk for math students. Below you will find this talk.

I taught math for 14 years at a middle school in Albuquerque, NM. My colleagues and I spent our planning time modifying our curriculum quite a bit, trying to make lessons accessible to and interesting for our students. In general, though, I was still teaching how I was taught. I do, we do, you do. I was fearful that my students would fail if I didn’t “teach” them first. I didn’t really value what they brought to the table, regarding their own intuition and creative problem solving.

But then 4 years ago, I attended a MidSchoolMath PD. I learned about story being used for learning, about these ideas of productive failure and productive struggle, and it made a lot of sense to me. I was also exposed to the idea of global math education… there ARE actually teachers, math students, and people outside of the U.S… all around the world…

It was then, 4 years ago, that I took a risk that ultimately led my students (and myself) down a path of discovery and learning. I accepted a challenge to create a math story project… a story in which math is embedded as a useful tool. Had I ever thought of using story in math class? No. Had I ever even seen story used in a math class? No. Not like this. The concept was completely foreign to me. Yet I saw value in it for my students… mathematical value and cultural value.

So, I dove into the unknown and created Expedition Everest, where my students would be mountaineers on Everest, encountering significant math problems on their way to the summit. Now let me tell you… My students live in a high-poverty area, riddled with gang violence and drug use. They rarely think outside their neighborhood, much less outside the country. While creating Expedition Everest, and even after, people questioned the relevancy of the topic to my students. How is Mount Everest relevant to students in Albuquerque? And maybe it isn’t…. initially….

But, by taking a risk, stretching myself, thinking outside the textbook… I was able to create mathematically enriching tasks…. Tasks that allowed my students to question, to use their intuition, to offer creative solutions….Tasks that were so intriguing, my students were willing to try, fail, struggle, and persist until they reached a solution. All the while, they were honing their math skills, discussing strategies and ideas, AND at the same time, they were learning about the tallest mountain in the world, about the Sherpa of Nepal, and about an animal called a yak. Their world was now bigger than it was before. And I, I had never had so much fun teaching.

We don’t all have to take our students to Mount Everest as mountaineers. Nor do we have to take them to Myanmar as secret agents. But we can do SOMETHING. Maybe it’s just restructuring the curriculum we currently have. And we might fail. But so did Edwin Link, and his pilots…at first. If WE don’t have the courage to take risks, and to push ourselves to explore the unknown, how can we expect our students to do the same?

As you go forward throughout the school year, consider this: what risk are you willing to take, to give your students, and yourself, the chance to fail, struggle, persist, and grow… as learners, and as global contributors?

Megan LeBleu is a National Board Certified teacher who taught math at a high-poverty middle school in Albuquerque, New Mexico for 14 years. During those years she became a master at collaborating with fellow teachers, making math curriculum engaging and accessible to students. She is highly skilled at integrating technology in the classroom and is well versed in the Common Core math standards. 

To learn more about MidSchoolMath visit
Check out this article about Megan and her math classroom



NuVu is a collaborative project-focused school for middle and high school students, where they ‘learn by doing.’ They do not have regular daily hour blocks of courses, subjects, classrooms or grades. Some students come for a semester [even during the summer], others for four years full-time. They focus on one project for two weeks at a time, and on working as a team — and being adaptable. Some students have created robotic arms, others sustainable clothing.

The 2018 AAIE Dr. Keith Miller International Innovative Leadership Award was earned by NuVu in February at the annual conference held in New York. Candidates for this award are judged based on leadership, creativity, culture, delivery, and impact. AAIE is a non-profit, membership based international organization that partners with educational institutions and associations worldwide to exchange international ideas, resources and research that help develop and improve international education and diversify and expand school leadership capacity.


Here are some questions our KDSL Global Intern Kate O’Neil recently asked Karen Sutton, Director of Operations at NuVu, about the organization.


NuVu is highly effective at transforming the lives of high performing students. Does NuVu have any programs specifically for students who do not come from the best schools, and are at a disadvantage?

The curriculum model provides an opportunity for all learners, from all backgrounds and education. What makes NuVu different is there are no courses, no subjects, no classrooms, no one-hour schedule, and no grades.


Is there a focus on including minorities and women, given the broad school focus on engineering?

Yes, we have several ways in which we focus gender and ethnic diversity. With our small enrollment, we take each admitted student on a case-by-case basis, meaning that if parents request financial assistance, we try to contribute what we can to make enrollment possible. We do this with siblings, too. And with our partnership with Beaver Country Day School, our diversity (both gender and ethnic) varies from term to term. We make a concerted effort make our school known and have had many conversations with BPS, in particular Dearborn Academy and Boston Day and Evening Academy.


If students have an idea that requires the assistance of an adult, doctor or engineer, is it possible for them to work with one? Or are all projects self-contained to each small group enrolled?

Yes, coaches are adults, Ph.D.’s, engineers, and experts of their fields, working as mentors/guides. Projects are student-driven; students work in pairs so that there is a consistency of collaboration and feedback.


To learn more about:

NuVu visit



International Women’s Day 2018


International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.  Started by the Suffragettes in the early 1900’s, the first International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1911. International Women’s Day belongs to all communities everywhere – governments, companies, charities, educational institutions, networks, associations, the media and more.

Here are 15 women who have had an impact on us and who we celebrate at KDSL Global on this year’s International Women’s Day, 8 March 2018:

Dr. Toyia Younger-Vice President for Leadership Development and Member Services at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities

Rama Chakaki-Principal at TURN8 Fund, Board Member at edSeed, Co-Founder of Baraka Advisors

Abigail Swetz-Senior Associate at Globesight

Maree Comerford-IB Leader and MYP Coordinator at Shanghai Community International School

Cynthia Buck-Retired Principal in Fairfax County Public Schools and Prince George’s County Public Schools

Melanie Stanley-Retired Administrator and Elementary Social Studies Supervisor in Fairfax County Public Schools

Arlette Yonkers-Educator in Alexandria City Public Schools

Reem Labib-DC Thought Partner and founder of EDspired

Liria Gjidija-Assistant Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Community Engagement at NYU Abu Dhabi

Hiba Ibrahim – KDSL Global Fellow and Education Entrepreneur in the making

Tiffany Johnson – KDSL Global Fellow and Education Entrepreneur in the making

Dr. Sudha Sunder – CEO of Teacher Leaders International

Jacqueline Burns – Global Mathematics Consultant

Rayna Yaker – Founder of RYE Consulting

Dr. Paulette Simpson- Mother of KDSL Global Founder Kevin Simpson, Minister

Global Education & Skills Forum


KDSL Global Fellow Hiba Ibrahim is attending this year’s Global Education & Skills Forum. This is the sixth year of the event, which focuses on addressing the challenges of education, equity and employment for all people. Each year, the Global Education & Skills Forum brings together over two thousand people from all over the world to share, debate and shape new ways for education to transform our world.

Hiba Ibrahim graduated with a BA degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Jordan in 2009. She started her educational career as a foreign language curriculum designer and in different institutions in Jordan and the US. Hiba was a Fulbright grantee to teach as a full time instructor at Baldwin Wallace University in 2013.

She recently finished her Master’s degree in Education from the Institute of Education at University College London. She has also worked in virtual intercultural exchange programs and developing teacher training and student learning programs. In her free time, you find Hiba blogging on women issues, Islamophobia and education through her blog Thoughts of an Arab Woman. She is also involved in some social work projects online and in Jordan.

For more about the Global Education & Skills Forum visit

KDSL Global Fellows

KDSL Global, based in the United Arab Emirates and in the United States, is pleased to announce our new fellow.  The fellowship will run for one year with a focus on writing, leadership and launching a new education idea.



Tiffany Johnson was born in Chicago and raised in the south suburbs where she attended Homewood-Flossmoor High School.  After graduation, she attended Illinois State University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. During her time there, Tiffany joined The Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation, which was an organization that linked her with minorities in the STEM fields and awarded her scholarships and mentorship opportunities. Her interest in teaching began in high school and carried her away to her favorite place, New York!  Tiffany taught 6th grade science to a group of brilliant boys in the historic neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant (Bed-Stuy) Brooklyn. She is excited to return back to her roots in Chicago where she teaches 9th grade Biology in the south side neighborhood of Auburn Gresham.  She looks forward to bringing her skills to ensure there is a strong culture of achievement and a fearless interest in the STEM fields.  In her spare time, Tiffany enjoys traveling, Netflix, reading, and spending time with her son and friends.

10 Lessons from an Education Entrepreneur – eBook Released

1 March 2018: International education entrepreneur, Kevin Simpson, releases an eBook today charting his journey from classroom teacher to globetrotting entrepreneur. The KDSL Global Story: 10 Lessons from an Education Entrepreneur is a fascinating, insightful read for any educators who are seeking to take the plunge, find their passion, and start their own company. If you’ve ever wondered how one might transition from a teacher to an entrepreneur, or how one can find a way to work in education all the way round the world, Kevin will have helpful advice and insight for you.

Readers will find out how having standards of excellence, taking risks, being open to change, and learning when to say no have helped Kevin launch and successfully maintain his dream company. The foreword is written by education investor and advisor Bernard West, who says that, “This book is a welcomed addition addressing multiple points of view: The teacher seeking an entrepreneurial path, the student charting a career in international education, and the social entrepreneur aiming to have a global impact.”

Kevin Simpson’s career has taken him from classrooms in Michigan to Virginia to collaborating on education projects in Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and 15 other countries. His company, KDSL Global, is a leading international learning organization focused on empowering educators and education businesses globally. Kevin believes passionately in sharing knowledge and skills around, growing others, and having fun in the collaborative process. Reading his 10 Lessons will give any education entrepreneur the inspiration and initial tools they need to get started and make their dreams a reality.

Part of the proceeds from the sale of the eBook will go to the organizations listed with the KDSL Global Gives 10 Initiative. To order the eBook visit and click on Celebrating 10 years.


For further information, please contact Kevin Simpson

Tel: 312.478.1695 | |



About KDSL Global

KDSL Global is a USA and UAE-based leading learning organization focused on empowering educators and education businesses globally. To find out more information visit

GAUSE Educational Network, LLC


GAUSE Educational Network, LLC, wants to engage students, champion literacy and accelerate learning. Led by Jacqueline Gause, the organization recently published Friendship in Any Language. This book highlights young friends reaching out and learning about cultural differences.

Jacqueline Gause is the founder and CEO of GAUSE Educational Network, LLC. She has extensive experience in teaching, developing curricula, and is now working in the United Arab Emirates and in the United States. Her knowledge of international expat realities informs her work, and she is passionate about children receiving the best possible education they can.


KDSL Global had a chance to connect with Gause. Here are her answers to questions about her organization and vision, in her own words:

In the future, is GAUSE going to expand into other literacy areas, like hosting conferences? Or will it stay in publishing alone?

GAUSE Educational Network, LLC has a desire to expand in the future in numerous ways. We are an education and publishing company built for scholars of all ages. The company serves passionately to champion literacy. The aim and mission of the company is to provide scholars and educational practitioners with support, products, and skills to develop literacy confidence.


What is the vision for GAUSE’s books?

One important aspect of GAUSE Educational Network, LLC books are to foster a sense of cultural responsiveness, diversity and promote a love of literacy for scholars of all ages. The company’s first book is Friendship in Any Language. This is a children’s book about the challenges and successes of making and sustaining friendships.


Do you plan on having GAUSE’s books translated into and published in other languages?

GAUSE Educational Network, LLC books may be published in different languages in the future.


To learn more about GAUSE Educational Network, LLC please visit



Kate O’Neil
KDSL Global Intern
Twitter: @KDSL07
Facebook: KDSL Global