Teacher Appreciation Day: Profile of a Dedicated Teacher Committed to Global Education
“Global Education is important because it’s required to help students find meaningful learning that will fit the changing context of a globalized world. It will prepare them for a future we cannot see yet.”
As a teacher in a classroom of primarily immigrant and refugee students, in a system lacking the organization and structure to support such learners, Meg Riley faces many obstacles as she lives out her commitment to the teaching profession. Meg teaches at an urban high school in Tucson, Arizona, where nearly 40% of the students speak a native language other than English. One major challenge she faces is providing adequate instruction to her English Language Learners (ELL) in a district that has restrictions on the amount of language support students receive. That, coupled with the high-stakes tests the state requires students to pass before they receive a high school diploma has Meg and her colleagues struggling to meet the needs of their students.
The tests are “…incredibly language heavy and increasingly hard to pass,” Meg said. “The past two years we have had students who have met their graduation requirements in terms of grades, attendance, and credits but are not able to earn a diploma. One such student has earned a two-year scholarship to our local community college and is ranked tenth in the 2012 graduating class.”
Meg is one of many teachers across the country who has taken it upon herself to find extra opportunities to improve her professional practice in order to increase student performance. Through the Teachers for Global Classroom Program (TGC), Meg leverages her talent and makes an impact on her students. The TGC program trains teachers in globalizing curricula, a methodology that builds global competency, introduces multiple perspectives, and develops students’ skills in cross-cultural communication, critical thinking, and problem solving. TGC provides teachers with an opportunity to experience these skills first hand via travel to a participating country.
“The TGC course has had a significant impact on my teaching, but the international fellowship has made a more overt and dramatic impact on my students,” Meg expressed. “I thought traveling to Ghana would provide a window into my students’ lives prior to their move to the U.S. My students reacted as though my travel to Ghana was a kind of validation of their lives in their native countries.”
Using photos and experiences from her time visiting Cape Coast Castle in Ghana to supplement her history course, Meg was surprised by the effect it had on her students. “These photos were especially moving to one student from the Darfur region of Sudan. After viewing the Cape Coast Castle photos she decided to research human rights in her home country and the history of slavery in Sudan for her final project in her writing class.”
The demands on teachers continue to increase while the resources, professional development opportunities, support, and time for collaboration diminishes. “Primarily I fear that the continued demands of state requirements, budget concerns and general exhaustion of teachers will mean that many will miss the implications and necessity of global education,” Meg observed. “You never know when there will be one budget cut too many.”
Meg is one of many teachers across our nation who work tirelessly engaging students and changing the world. In appreciation of the millions of teachers around our nation who make a difference in the lives of their students, thank you for your hard work, dedication, and diligence.