For decades, national, state, and local commissions have called on education leaders to implement a more comprehensive portrait of a career-ready graduate that incorporates the four C’s: communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking.
Recently, that portrait also includes global competence, which supports students as they become global leaders. The combination of both these approaches stands as a model for what it means to be a well-prepared graduate in today’s rapidly changing, interconnected society.
Although we know what a modern education can and should look like, we struggle to provide equitable opportunities for all students. In particular, global learning experiences stand out as an element of a rigorous education that is common for some students fortunate enough to attend private schools or a well-rounded university. Yet for the overwhelming majority of K–12 public school students, these opportunities are not available.
If these global learning opportunities are core to being career-ready, why are they not offered widely in K–12 classrooms? And how do we develop school-wide global initiatives that can provide global learning to more K–12 classrooms to equitably prepare all students? Here are some real examples to follow.
1. Define your global leader.
First, determine what a global leader or global-ready graduate looks like for your state, district, or school. Every school system is different, so don’t feel like your plan needs to look like anyone else’s–tailor it to the needs of your students! At Piney Creek School in western North Carolina, a global leadership framework was a solution to prepare students for life beyond their small town. If you’re looking for a great example of a district that has clearly defined what it is looking for in a global-ready graduate, check out the work being done in Edgecombe County School District.
2. Develop global-ready teachers.
Global-ready teachers are vital to the development of global-ready students, schools, and districts. Online professional development offers schools a way to provide teachers continuous learning opportunities, including developing their own global competencies.
Effective professional development must incorporate active pedagogical strategies so teachers engage in learning practices that model what we are asking them to do in their classrooms. All teachers can become global-ready teachers with professional development and curricular resources. Communities of Practice provide an opportunity for educators to connect around similar topics, passions, and areas of expertise in a continuous, problem-centered learning environment. Our United We Teach Community serves as a global gathering place for teachers from all over the world to engage and share their best practices for digital and global learning.
3. Use superior global classroom resources.
Many students in underserved schools and districts are not exposed to rigorous, authentic, or relevant curriculum, and we can’t expect students to be ready for advanced courses in high school if their K–8 opportunities were limited. Incorporating thematic interdisciplinary units that are framed through a global lens is an effective curriculum strategy. Students tend to become more engaged when they believe that they are participating in relevant real-world problem solving.
Districts should be looking for standards-aligned resources that can be delivered digitally to ensure relevancy and broad access. Unify your school community through global initiatives and opportunities that transcend individual classrooms to become a key element of your school culture. Check out these global learning resources to start exposing your students to the world outside of their local communities.
4. Incorporate technology.
The importance of technology cannot be overstated – it keeps costs down and increases scalability. Global schools can begin completely online. This allows traditional, site-based training, curriculum resource design, and delivery to be more cost-effective. Technology also plays a large role in both the classroom and professional development programs. Effective incorporation of technology supports inquiry, collaborative and active learning, and is integral in student-led classrooms.
5. Infuse global themes.
For global education to be successfully implemented in any school, it is critical that administrators collectively lead the school community with a unified global focus. Global education is a framework through which all teaching and learning can and should occur. Moreover, global concepts can be incorporated into what teachers are already doing.
By infusing global themes throughout the curriculum, using inquiry-based instructional practices, developing global-ready teachers, and ensuring access for all students, we can create educational environments that open the world to our students.
Interested in learning more about how our global leaders framework prepares students to thrive in the global marketplace? Visit this page to download our global leader infographic, which includes the competencies that are empowering students to think locally, act globally, and change the world.
This post was originally published on March 27, 2017.