How can you bring global to your classroom, school, or district this year? Ariel Tichnor-Wagner, senior fellow of global competence, ASCD, and Jennifer Manise, executive director, The Longview Foundation, have five suggestions for you.
As we embark on 2017, perhaps you have already begun to make progress on personal goals you have set—you’ve renewed that gym membership, signed up to volunteer for a cause you care about, or called the aunt you haven’t spoken to in months. What about New Year’s resolutions for your career? If you are reading this blog, you probably have at least some interest in preparing students to thrive in our interconnected world, and perhaps want to make global readiness a part of your 2017 resolutions.
But what is the state of global learning—and how can we improve in the year ahead?
Looking back at 2016, there is significant cause for celebration. A number of states are recognizing the importance of educating for global competence. For example, the California Department of Education hosted its first Global Education Summit and produced a strategic plan; the Illinois governor signed into law the Illinois Global Scholars Certificate. The U.S. Department of Education held a convening on cultural and global competencies, attended by dozens of teachers, university professors, NGOs, and thought leaders. And, the OECD announced that it will measure global competence as part of its 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).
Progress Made in 2016
Importantly, global learning is taking place in classrooms and schools all over the country and around the world. In a recent survey of ASCD SmartBrief subscribers*, which included responses from over 1,500 classroom teachers and close to 1,800 administrators, sixty percent of teachers and about one-half of administrators reported doing globally oriented work in their classroom, school, or district this past year. Whether integrating global content into everyday instruction, incorporating multiple perspectives into teaching, engaging in project-based learning around global topics, or providing opportunities for students to learn a new language, these educators engaged their students with the wider world in multiple ways and on a frequent basis.
While this is all great news, the same survey also revealed areas for improvement. For example, some survey respondents expressed confusion about what “global” actually meant. Regarding resources, about 60 percent of both teachers and administrators reported they needed more access to resources to implement global activities. About 40 percent of respondents had not received any global professional development at all; while administrators believed they were offering more global professional development opportunities than teachers reported having access to. A comparison of respondents inside and outside of the United States further suggests that the United States lags behind other nations regarding global learning. As compared to their U.S. counterparts, teachers and administrators located outside the United States reported having more access to resources for global work, higher participation rates in global projects and activities, more professional training on the topic, and a stronger belief in the importance of this type of work.
Global Learning Goals
Whether you are tinkering with the idea of incorporating global perspectives into your classroom, school, or district, or have been working hard for years to cultivate a school culture of global mindedness, we are all working toward the same goal of ensuring that every child has an understanding of the world and global issues, a mindset that embraces diversity and multiple perspectives, and an ability to take action on issues of global significance. Here is a suggested list of global learning goals that we’re resolving to do in 2017—and that you might resolve to do, as well.
Goal 1: Choose a term, define it within your community, share it broadly, and stick to it. Global competence, global mindedness, global citizenship, international understanding—all are used to broadly describe global learning and all can be interpreted in any number of ways. To avoid confusion and garner support from colleagues and community members, select one term to use consistently and communicate exactly what it means. Solid, research-based definitions are widely available. You can adopt these definitions outright or use them as a starting point to come up with a definition that works best for your students and community. Be willing to compromise your thinking to a certain extent. This goal is all about a clear definition that can be worked into a larger strategic agenda that all of your colleagues can agree to work toward!
Goal 2: Find one new online resource a month to share with colleagues and integrate into practice. Integrating global content into coursework can be challenging, particularly when educators report needing additional resources. Luckily, you can find many resources available for free online, including lesson plans, classroom materials, online forums, and communities of practice. All are important tools for making global learning in the classroom a reality, and require continuous commitment and effort to find, adapt, and implement. A great way to start is to participate in #GlobalEdChat on Twitter every Thursday evening at 8 pm Eastern time.
Goals 3: Add professional development offerings that emphasize global learning. Educators need more professional learning opportunities that enable them to understand how global learning is aligned to standards and curriculum and can be integrated into courses in any content area. Examine your current offerings. If there is nothing with a global focus on the list, add at least one. This could take many forms: conferences, institutes, online modules, webinars, book studies, teacher exchange programs, or in-house professional learning communities. For administrators, it is particularly important to make global opportunities available to teachers and encourage them to attend. This way, teachers will know this is a priority and can build the capacity and confidence to embed global content and perspectives into everyday practice.
Goal 4: Make a plan to embed learning from local peers and colleagues in other districts, states, and countries. What can you learn from peers in other places? Look for sessions at regional, state, and national meetings that address global readiness. If you can’t find any, propose a session for next year. Further, because educators outside of the United States are more likely to engage in globally oriented classroom activities and professional learning, connect with educators across international borders via online platforms or international conferences (in-person and online) to gain new professional knowledge and practical tips for global learning.
Goal 5: Create an advocacy plan that has global at the heart of your school or district’s vision for this next generation’s future. While the majority of participants in the survey reported participating in some form of global activity, over a third of teachers and principals were not globally engaged at all. This highlights the need for educators to promote why developing global competence is no longer optional but absolutely necessary for students. Any advocacy plan at the classroom, school, or district level should ground the importance of global learning in the local context, emphasizing, for example, diverse student populations, career readiness, or the connection between the local and global economy.
Resolving to meet one—or all five—of these goals will empower you to be a global education leader and ultimately expand the perspectives and future prospects of your students. Welcome to the world, 2017!
* ASCD. (2016). Global Engagement Survey. Alexandria, VA.
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.