By Kelly Clark

Every journey starts with the first step, and when thinking about how to integrate global competencies into your school – building buy-in and support from your community, parents and teachers is critical. The first Kentucky Global Schools Network — which included Campbell, McCracken and Webster counties — all agreed that their first successful move was clearly articulating a vision for global education in their school.

Having the right tools at the right time helped these districts concentrate on their powerful message with ready-made supports for students, parents and community leaders who need to understand the goal of globally ready kids. Below are several tools which might be useful in making that visionary leap.

This source, the free Global Education and Equitable Preparation Digest, provides all K-12 schools with some starting points and excellent rationales and data. From partner provider VIF International Education, the digest lays out the argument in clear, precise language for all stakeholders at your school, from parents to teachers to community partners.

VIF works with the schools and districts in the Kentucky Global Schools Network providing professional learning, guidance and fully integrated global lessons as part of their contract services. Located in North Carolina, VIF has worked with international teachers and schools districts all over the United States. For further learning, join VIF’s free educator chats for immediate and detailed advice.

An outstanding and resource laden book, published by Corwin, “The Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners,” (2014) includes practical advice, tips, tools and lists of resources for a successful implementation. Although the book is marketed for elementary, the advice is applicable to all grade levels.

Once your vision has been shared and the need for global education established, it is time to get your plans in place for a slow and steady move toward whole school integration.

In general, these steps to approaching global competency in your school would include the following:

  • Form a Global Competency Team that includes representatives of content areas, specials, activity or related arts teachers, special education, English as a second language teachers, community or business partners, parents, students and administration.
  • Take stock of the global awareness of your school, district and community by taking the Global Education Checklist, the NAFSA Association of International Educators’ Cultural Awareness Profile or create a tool which reflects global competencies found in the VIF or Global Competence Matrices and compile the results to form a baseline.
  • Deconstruct the language in the Global Competency and World Language Program Review. Have the team discuss possible ratings and evidence that could be used to support those ratings. Determine gaps in your school-wide program for improvement. Create priorities, action plans and communicate with your school-based decision making council, administration and all stakeholders about commitments and resources required for meeting goals.
  • Meet frequently as a team to monitor progress. Profiles or checklists should be given at regular intervals (at least twice a year) to chart growth of global competency.
  • Share improvements and focus on continuous improvement of programs.

While every school and district is unique, both our experienced partner VIF and Kentucky Global Network Schools concentrated first on setting the goals and vision with a strong rationale and reason for their schools and staff. This was a slow process but worth it to build the kind of support and buy-in needed for a long term integration of global skills for students.

The next piece was a guiding plan and strong team that distributed the leadership and began to build capacity in team leaders at each school who would be central to creating a data baseline and monitoring student growth. How each school accomplished these two parts will vary, but each is necessary.