US Classrooms Gain International Perspectives through Globalized Teaching
After traveling to an all-girls school in Ghana and learning of the significant need for books to improve literacy, inner-city Philadelphia high school teacher Bonnee Breese saw the importance of creating an opportunity for global education and understanding. She established a book drive for Ghana at her school in Philadelphia, which her students helped manage and implement as they learned about global competencies.
“[The trip] connected me greatly to Ghana and to girls, in a time where people are really paying attention to girls and literacy,” said Breese. “I’m riding a wave that I didn’t imagine ever happening.”
Through the Teachers for Global Classrooms (TGC) Program, US secondary school teachers like Breese participate in a year-long professional development program where they develop skills as practitioners and become ambassadors of global pedagogy in order to catalyze global education in their classrooms, schools and communities. The program includes an international field experience where they learn about education systems, visit schools and meet with education leaders. This year, 78 teachers from 36 states traveled to Brazil, Ghana, Kazakhstan, India, Indonesia, Morocco and Ukraine. At the post-travel TGC Global Education Symposium, teachers shared their experiences abroad and how they infused global perspectives in their classrooms.
Jennice Wright, a middle school teacher from rural Missouri, traveled to India through TGC and brought back ideas to create space for change in a culturally isolated education setting. Using popular culture, music and street art in the Arab Spring as a medium for understanding, Wright hopes to get students more deeply interested in global issues and conversations about justice-oriented citizenship.
“We’re starting to see students think beyond their bubbles,” she said. “I’m working on taking the global education conversation to local districts, national conferences [and] board meetings. I think we need to have more conversations about globalizing culturally isolated classrooms.”
After experiencing the education system in Kazakhstan, middle school teacher Robert Dent wanted to focus on the writing process and the recognition of cultural similarities and differences among students back home and abroad. By creating an international poetry project, he was able to maintain a focus on content while globally changing his classroom.
“[Global education is] essential for [the] growing interconnectedness of our world,” said Dent. “The types of problems that we’re facing today, and will continue to face in the future, cannot be solved by single countries. They have to be solved by multiple countries working together.”
By simplifying the complex ideas of global education and cultural understanding through field experience, collaborative networks and activities, TGC teachers enhance learning and help students grow to foster an international perspective in the classroom.
“For teenagers, [global education is] really important because it takes them outside of themselves,” said Breese. “They need connections to the world, not just to a 15 block radius.”
The Teachers for Global Classrooms (TGC) Program is funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by IREX. TGC provides a professional development opportunity for middle and high school teachers from the United States to globalize teaching and learning in their classrooms.