Several years after outlining the concept of culturally relevant teaching, Gloria Ladson-Billings published a piece called “Yes, But how do we do it? Practicing Culturally Relevant Pedagogy.” As teacher educators, the three other researchers on my team and I heard our students ask similar questions with regards to globally competent teaching. Although both concepts refer more to approaches to education, rather than specific sets of technical strategies, we knew that teachers needed clarification of terms – such as global awareness and global competence – in teacher and student standards. We created an interactive tool called The Globally Competent Teaching Continuum (GCTC) to provide such clarification through definitions, resources, and models of what globally competent teaching looks like.
Developing the Tool
We designed the GCTC as a self-reflection tool for professional growth for both teachers and teacher educators. It outlines 12 elements of globally competent teaching across three domains (dispositions, knowledge, and skills), and defines 5 levels for each element (nascent, beginning, progressing, proficient, and advanced). While the GCTC may appear to look like a linear progression, we emphasize that developing global competence is a nonlinear and lifelong learning process as the world and our understanding of it continue to change.
Our research team of three PhD students and one professor at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, all former teachers and current teacher educators, developed and refined the GCTC for over a year. We spent an additional six months creating a web-based interactive tool and resource repository, which launched on July 25. The project was funded by the Longview Foundation, and completed in partnership with World View and LEARN NC. We used a systematic literature review to identify global competence elements and guide initial continuum development. In the second phase, over 100 practicing K-12 teachers and global competence experts reviewed and modified the GCTC. In the third phase, we further adjusted the GCTC after a series of validation analyses and further expert review. This yielded the final version, which is now available online for free. The web-based tool includes embedded links to videos of teachers demonstrating globally competent instruction for each element, along with accompanying lesson plans, resources, professional development opportunities, and readings.
The website introduction provides an overview of who should use the GCTC and how to navigate the web-based tool. Both teachers and teacher educators can use the continuum to better understand the components of globally competent teaching (such as perspective consciousness, a commitment to global equity, knowledge of global conditions and local-global interconnectedness), and the skills to create a globally-engaged classroom environment that values diversity and lessons that integrate global learning experiences with content standards. They can read each level for a particular element, clicking the embedded links for teaching demos and sample lessons, to self-reflect on which level best describes them and gain ideas for how to advance. Teacher educators can guide their students through the self-reflection process, and use the site to generate conversations about next steps. They can also use the GCTC to plan teacher preparation programs, courses, and activities to develop globally competent teachers.
Connecting with Globally Competent Educators
One of the most rewarding components of the project for our research team has been learning more about what globally competent teaching actually looks like and how teachers develop these capacities. To create the video demos and compile relevant resources, we selected ten teachers (our “Global Consultants”) from across North Carolina who had demonstrated the dispositions, knowledge, and skills that we identified through the literature review. Because we aimed for representation of all grade levels and subject areas, we were able to record science, math, and even music lessons that incorporated global awareness. Almost all of the literature we read documented social studies, world languages, and sometimes English Language Arts classes, so seeing how teachers were globalizing other subjects was remarkably illuminating. Our math consultant, for example, has a website called Global Math Stories, where teachers can submit lessons that present math problems in global contexts – such as calculating population growth in booming urban areas like Chittagong, Bangladesh. One of the science teachers asked students to take on the perspectives of people in other countries when evaluating costs and benefits of various forms of energy. The music teacher had his students learn to play Latin American folk music and to take on the perspective of a Venezuelan composer to understand his response to current issues in Venezuela.
We were also surprised by the multiple pathways various teachers take in their journeys to develop global competence. Some had not traveled internationally prior to teaching. Some had extensive experiences living or teaching abroad; others never left the country. Some teachers were asked to serve as global education leaders at their schools, which led them to pursue opportunities to expand their knowledge. Several others felt an obligation to become globally competent to connect with their ESL students. Another did so to connect with her many students who lived internationally on military bases. What the teachers did share, however, was a deeply held belief that global competence is a lifelong process, and a passion to continue pushing themselves and their colleagues to prioritize it in their teaching. We, as the project coordinators, were delighted to hear that they found participating in the project “rejuvenating” and “reinvigorating,” and we hope that other teachers are offered opportunities to share their expertise and feel professionally affirmed – whether it be in global competence or other areas. We hope that the GCTC will facilitate teacher educators’ abilities to prepare themselves and their students for meeting the increasingly complex demands of our ever-changing world.