How To Prepare Globally Competent Students

This post is part of a blog series written by VIF International Education (@vifglobaled) on global education and equitable preparation in the classroom originally published on Getting Smart (@Getting_Smart.) Join the conversation on Twitter using #globaled. For more, check out (Global Education and Equitable Preparation).

Instruction aimed at helping students develop global competence does not need to be restricted to social studies or global studies courses. Many global education strategies are relevant across grade levels and academic subjects, and can be applied in any classroom.

Elementary school teacher Nichola Turner is a testament to this. As an 11-year teaching veteran from the United Kingdom, Turner taught for two years in London and six years in Mexico City before making her way to the United States to teach. However, Turner’s effectiveness as a global educator isn’t represented by the stamps in her passport — it’s demonstrated by her commitment to utilizing the cultural diversity she’s seen in every classroom she’s led.

“It’s extremely important to me as an educator that all students are valued no matter their cultural or language heritage,” Turner said. Turner consistently models cultural appreciation for all of her students. She honors students by using their backgrounds and interests to teach the skills, attitudes and knowledge they need to be successful.

There are three elements fundamental to Turner’s teaching style:

  • Curiosity about her students’ backgrounds.
  • Incorporation of students’ cultural and language heritages into instruction. For example, she has students share information about their families by writing their own cultural resumes. She then connects this activity to Social Studies and Language Arts standards.
  • Instructional time dedicated to honoring students’ interests. For example, while talking to one of her Muslim students, Turner learned that one of the student’s wishes was for her classmates to learn Arabic. Turner helped support this interest by encouraging the student to teach the class how to count in Arabic.

Turner’s strategies sometimes seem outside of the norm. In one case, this has included allowing one of her English language learners to do a presentation in Spanish, his native language, rather than English. Did all students understand what he said? No. But for Turner, who speaks Spanish, the language of the presentation was secondary to what she was trying to achieve — making the student feel heard.

If you are interested in a few more instructional strategies that can be used across disciplines to support students in developing key global competence skills, here are some examples.


This post is part of a blog series on global education and equitable preparation in the classroom produced in partnership with VIF International Education (@vifglobaled). Join the conversation on Twitter using #globaled. For more, download VIF’s free guidebook on Global Education and Equitable Preparation, and check out:

Anamaria Knight is Senior Director, New Product Development at VIF International Education. Follow Anamaria on Twitter, @Anamaria_Knight.


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