The Global Education Guidebook: Humanizing K-12 Classrooms Worldwide Through Equitable Partnerships

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Educators worldwide are striving to connect their students to classrooms and experts in ways that humanize the world, while preparing students to thrive in the 21st century. This practical guide takes readers through the steps and strategies needed to set up an equitable and global learning alliance that benefits all learners, founded in the tenets of global citizenship and cultural competence. Readers also have access to reproducible worksheets and assessments for setting up and evaluating their cooperative learning partnerships. This book is perfect for specialists, after-school program leaders, camp counselors, and anyone seeking to foster global citizenship and encourage collaborative action in young people. How this guide to global education will help you: Explore examples of elementary, middle, and high school partnerships that target the critical thinking and 21st century skills students need for life in a complex world. Gain wisdom from global education leaders and practitioners who have firsthand experience building successful and transformative global education partnerships for students. Consider educational technology, communication platforms, organizations, and strategies for finding and fostering a long-term global partnership for education. Understand the equity pitfalls of global partnerships and explore cross-cultural management strategies for building equitable relationships with other communities in the world. Learn about assessing intercultural competence and partnership programs, as well as ways to expand global learning opportunities across your community. Contents Chapter 1: Building Global Competencies Via Global Partnerships Chapter 2: Preparing for Global Collaboration: Considerations Before the Search Chapter 3: Getting a Feel for What's Possible Chapter 4: Finding Existing Partnership Programs That Work Chapter 5: Finding a Global Partner on Your Own Chapter 6: Strategizing for Successful Communication Chapter 7: Avoiding Equity Pitfalls Chapter 8: Exploring Social Justice Challenges Through Partnerships Chapter 9: Assessing Global Competencies and Partnerships Chapter 10: Building a Culture of Global Engagement Across the Community References and Resources

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Chapter 1

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CHAPTER 1

BUILDING GLOBAL

COMPETENCIES VIA

G L O B A L PA R T N E R S H I P S

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

 —Alvin Toffler

Before even trying to envision your global partnership ideas in action, it’s important to ground your work in the goal of developing students’ global competencies—communication, collaboration, humility, and empathy, to name a few. To do that, you need a starting place for trying to envision the world your students will graduate into, as well as the skills and knowledge they might need for that world. This chapter will explore the urgent rationale behind global competency development, some of the leading definitions of global competency, and the pedagogical approaches that help foster those skills as central facets of global citizenship and participation.

Educators want to see students not just survive the world they encounter but actually thrive within that world as constructive, innovative thinkers. No matter how they accomplish the goal, educators tend to share the common urge for vigor, motivation, and engagement in students as much as—or even more than— academic rigor. However, educators can’t always agree on what students need to learn, what the right standards might be, and how to reach those goals in the classroom—particularly given that much of the world’s population can find answers to knowledge-based questions on a smartphone. Linda Darling-Hammond (2010) notes that information is spreading so rapidly that “education can no longer be productively focused primarily on the transmission of pieces of information that,

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Chapter 2

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CHAPTER 2

P R E PA R I N G F O R

G L O B A L C O L L A B O R AT I O N

Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.

 —Paulo Freire

Which aspects of your curriculum might improve with the kind of humanizing that comes from building connections and relationships? What kind of learning experience do you hope to build for students through your global partnership?

What regions of the world connect to what your students are studying? How do you envision partnerships playing out in your day-to-day classroom work? What knowledge and skills do you hope your students will develop? This chapter will explore these considerations and more, and help you establish your partnership goals in concrete but flexible ways before you seek a partner.

It’s up to you whether to join an existing project for partnership, which we explore in chapter 4 (page 73), or whether you’d rather seek a partner and build something from scratch, which we explore in chapter 5 (page 93). Both are viable means of engaging, but building from scratch often requires more time. Some teachers develop a collaborative project idea first and then invite other classrooms to join in, welcoming anyone who likes their idea, while others start by finding a partner and then building the project idea together. (Chapter 5 helps you navigate asking a classroom to join yours.) You can work with one or multiple classrooms during your partnership, or you might prefer to connect your students with a few individuals.

 

Chapter 3

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CHAPTER 3

GETTING A FEEL FOR

W H AT ’ S P O S S I B L E

Borderless challenges must be addressed collaboratively, creatively, and constructively by multiple actors, especially those with the greatest stake and with the greatest capacity to effect positive change.

 —Chris Harth

While it’s important to come into your first conversation without too much of an agenda, envisioning what good partnerships can look like will help you enter the conversation with ideas about the shape your engagement might take. This chapter explores examples that demonstrate the various design strategies good partnerships might use, identifying a variety of age-appropriate ways of thinking about and designing global partnership experiences at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. While several of the classroom-to-classroom partnership examples come from existing organizations and programs, they are meant to reflect best practices regardless of who hosts or designs them—and you could easily recreate several in a different form with partners you find yourself, or adapt them to very different age groups. At the end of this chapter, we also explore examples of nonschool partners who can enrich your students’ experiences in powerful ways.

 

Chapter 4

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CHAPTER 4

FINDING EXISTING

PA R T N E R S H I P P R O G R A M S

T H AT W O R K

Great social forces are the accumulation of individual actions. Let the future say of our generation that we sent forth mighty currents of hope, and that we worked together to heal the world.

 —Jeffrey D. Sachs

The significant growth and popularity of global education have spawned a plethora of organizations offering platforms, communities, and projects. Rather than creating a project of their own, many educators find that joining existing projects can save a lot of time and work.

While several are fee-based organizations, since having boots on the ground in multiple communities requires maintaining local salaries and infrastructure, many teachers find that access to existing networks, simple partnership structures, existing communication platforms, and ready-made projects is more than worth the costs.

It can be useful to check a partnership organization’s track record, particularly if it charges, to make sure that fees go straight into the support services you need, not into elaborate administrative systems. This is easy to do through Twitter, for example: use the hashtag #globaled to search what other global educators have experienced with that organization. You may find a partnership opportunity through an organization focused specifically on building global partnerships for learning, and you may successfully partner through an organization that targets a specific issue, such as peace building, and whose side benefits include global partnerships.

 

Chapter 5

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CHAPTER 5

FINDING A GLOBAL

PA R T N E R O N Y O U R O W N

Friends and partners do not just fall from a tree in one’s backyard.

They become friends and partners only through interactions in various occasions when mutual interests, respect, and understanding are uncovered and developed.

 —Yong Zhao

There is no perfect formula for finding a global partner on your own, but several strategies can help you find committed, serious partner teachers. The point is to find a teacher whose goals complement your own and to develop a collaborative experience in which students on both sides experience significant learning and connect authentically.

This is not easy to do in any educational setting; teachers are busy people who often work over sixty hours per week. It can take a year or two before a partnership functions at its full potential, and even the most successfully partnered teachers experience frustration and challenges along the way. The bottom line is that both partners have to be equally committed—and equally communicative and flexible—for meaningful collaborative learning to occur. Long-term partnerships are a marathon, not a sprint, and even short-term partnerships need careful nurturing.

 

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CHAPTER 6

C H O O S I N G S T R AT E G I E S

FOR SUCCESSFUL

C O M M U N I C AT I O N

Learning has never been as fluid as now. A mobile device in conjunction with ubiquitous wireless network access literally means we can learn anywhere, anytime, from anyone.

 —Julie Lindsay

While it may seem obvious, communication challenges are the biggest reason partnerships fail. Whether caused by limited Internet access, overworked teachers who don’t answer emails, key people dropped from email threads, or lack of a common language, the challenges are fairly easy to address and avoid. Start by focusing on building a relationship with simple, personal, and consistent communication—and an open mind. Lean into, or embrace as a growth opportunity, any language differences you might have with your partner teacher. From there, choose the right synchronous and asynchronous communication platforms. This chapter can help ensure that your partnership is successful.

Build Relationships First

 

Chapter 6

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CHAPTER 6

C H O O S I N G S T R AT E G I E S

FOR SUCCESSFUL

C O M M U N I C AT I O N

Learning has never been as fluid as now. A mobile device in conjunction with ubiquitous wireless network access literally means we can learn anywhere, anytime, from anyone.

 —Julie Lindsay

While it may seem obvious, communication challenges are the biggest reason partnerships fail. Whether caused by limited Internet access, overworked teachers who don’t answer emails, key people dropped from email threads, or lack of a common language, the challenges are fairly easy to address and avoid. Start by focusing on building a relationship with simple, personal, and consistent communication—and an open mind. Lean into, or embrace as a growth opportunity, any language differences you might have with your partner teacher. From there, choose the right synchronous and asynchronous communication platforms. This chapter can help ensure that your partnership is successful.

Build Relationships First

 

Chapter 7

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CHAPTER 7

AV O I D I N G E Q U I T Y

P I T FA L L S

If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.

 —Lilla Watson

The best global partnerships are built on a foundation of equity and shared experience—a recognition of our common humanity. They are established on socially responsible and culturally responsive foundations that see every learner through an asset lens. As Lilla Watson (2016) suggests, we can only do this work together well if we recognize that our lives are interconnected. Despite good intentions, global educators encounter pitfalls when setting up an equitable relationship; they can address most of them by being more attuned to their partners.

Partnerships built on the assumption that one group has the capacity to help or even save the other rarely work, and they tend to ingrain the kind of inequitable thinking that global education should work to undo. The goal of an equitable partnership is to walk together, as the World Leadership School (n.d.) puts it, to recognize that the advantages of one group are often tied to the disadvantages of another, and to work together toward a more equitable world. Similarly, global health expert Paul Farmer (2011) describes accompaniment as the ideal model for global collaboration and development. It is only when we accompany others that we really understand their experiences.

 

Chapter 8

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CHAPTER 8

EXPLORING SOCIAL

JUSTICE CHALLENGES

T H R O U G H PA R T N E R S H I P S

We have to create. It is the only thing louder than destruction.

 —Andrea Gibson

No matter the topic of your global partnership, differences of opinion will surface; in fact, it’s a central goal of global partnerships, since only by engaging with people who think differently do we grow our own worldviews. The more controversial the topic, the more inevitable conflict and discord become—but that discord is a learning opportunity, not something to avoid. Even seemly innocuous topics, like girls’ education and identity, can incite strong emotional responses from students, parents, and other community stakeholders. Understanding meatier social justice topics has to include understanding the inequities that cause combat, revolution, and discord, and I have found that students of all ages are deeply motivated by the opportunity to engage in social justice work. Rather than avoiding such topics, prepare for discord. If you have internal support and use the strategies in this chapter to help you avoid backlash, more controversial partnerships and social justice topics can be incredibly valuable for you, your students, and your partner classroom. This chapter offers strategies for knowing your community, getting administrative buy-in, gathering perspectives, addressing bias, using human rights frameworks, and being thoughtful about your choices, as well as providing examples to help you navigate and lean into the complexities of partnerships that focus on challenging topics. It also includes the voices of many educators who are eager to share what they have learned from their more controversial global partnerships.

 

Chapter 9

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CHAPTER 9

ASSESSING GLOBAL

C O M P E T E N C I E S,

P A R T N E R S H I P S,

AND PROGRAMS

Masters are not experts because they take a subject to its conceptual end.

They are masters because they realize that there isn’t one.

 —Sarah Lewis

We are educating in a data-driven era, so our ability to assess the quality of educational experiences—and student growth—is paramount. In growth-oriented school communities, gathering data improves project planning and implementation; and formative assessment allows students multiple opportunities to give and receive growth-producing feedback on their path to mastery.

Additionally, there is an important distinction between grading and assessing. The educational culture in many countries focuses on what standardized tests identify as valuable, and in some cases what isn’t on the test isn’t taught because there simply is no time to devote to it (Smith, 2016; Turner, 2014). Ken Robinson and Lou

 

Chapter 10

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CHAPTER 10

B U I L D I N G A C U LT U R E O F

GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT

ACROSS THE COMMUNITY

Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment . . . .

We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.

 —Howard Zinn

It is isolating when innovative teachers feel they are the only ones in their communities who value global engagement. If change requires “small acts . . . multiplied by millions of people,” as historian and activist Howard Zinn (2004) suggests, then there is a need to include as many colleagues as possible in these efforts. Town

School for Boys in San Francisco, California, is an example of a school that is intentional about bringing global experiences to all stakeholders schoolwide, and about making community a concept that includes both local and global connections for students (F. Mugambi-Mutunga & K. Goggins, personal communication, October

 

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