Opinion
International Opinion

The Top 10 Characteristics of Globally Competent Teachers

By Betty Soppelsa & Jennifer Manise — August 19, 2015 3 min read

A recent collaborative project aimed to define what a globally competent teacher looks like and then integrate those characteristics into teaching standards. Jennifer Manise, Executive Director, Longview Foundation and Betty Soppelsa, Senior Advisor, Programs for NAFSA: Association of International Education share the results of this work.

We already expect a great deal of new teachers. And now given the increasing interconnectedness of our world, new teachers are being called upon to meet and support the growth of globally-minded students—but are they ready to do so?

Teacher training institutions and the teaching profession have been the focus of many recent conversations in education circles, including numerous discussions around licensure and credentialing. This led us to engage directly with educators and their teachers about what global competence means for them and whether the process for credentialing new teachers is reflective of the realities of today’s classrooms.

What Does Global Competence Look Like in a Teacher?
We began by gathering exemplary examples of knowledge, skills, and dispositions that spell out global competence in educators:


  1. Understanding one’s own cultural identity and its influence on personal dispositions and classroom practice
  2. Knowing and integrating global dimensions within the disciplines one teaches
  3. Engaging students in learning about the world and in exploring their place in it
  4. Using real-life global examples, materials, and resources when considering local, national, and human issues
  5. Valuing the input of culturally and linguistically diverse learners, families, and colleagues, and modeling cultural sensitivity
  6. Creating environments that encourage positive cross-cultural interaction
  7. Modeling social responsibility in local and global contexts
  8. Helping learners find appropriate actions to improve local and global conditions
  9. Assessing learners’ global competence and providing growth opportunities based on their levels of development
  10. Advocating for global education and social responsibility

Definition of Global Competence for Teachers
Together, these and related elements led to the development of this definition of global competence for teachers by NAFSA:

“Global competence in teachers is a set of essential knowledge, critical dispositions, and performances that help foster development of learners’ global competence. A globally competent teacher has knowledge of the world, critical global issues, their local impact, and the cultural backgrounds of learners; manifests intercultural sensitivity and acceptance of difference; incorporates this knowledge and sensitivity into classroom practice; and, develops the skills to foster these dispositions, knowledge, and performances in learners. The teacher models socially responsible action and creates opportunities for learners to engage in socially responsible action.” © NAFSA: Association of International Educators, 2015.

Global Standards and Practices
We wanted to start by defining global competence for educators. The second phase was to embed it into the working definition of new teacher standards and practice. In cooperation with the Council of Chief State School Officers New Teachers Standards project, we anchored these ideas in the 2011 CCSSO InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards: A Resource for State Dialogue.

To do so, we identified the places where global competence intersects with and enriches overall teaching competence. The result is InTASC as a Framework: Viewing the InTASC Standards through a Global Preparation Lens.

Lend Your Voice
Global competence for teachers is no longer for just an elite few, but rather is an essential element of preparation for all teachers. It is time to partner more deeply with colleges of education and alternative training routes to emphasize this reality as they prepare tomorrow’s teachers.

We are eager to gather examples of how teacher educators and teachers are implementing global perspectives in their work, how they define global competence, and how they anticipate using the “Global Preparation Lens.” We invite you to provide your feedback.

Follow Longview, NAFSA, and Asia Society on Twitter.

Photo credit: iStock

The opinions expressed in Global Learning are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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