Becoming Globally Competent

When I joined our superintendent’s educational technology committee in 2014, I didn’t realize that I was starting on a pathway to global competency by breaking down my classroom walls and opening up the world to my students.
I had already been teaching my students to reflect on their place in the world. My Title I school was full of students that had no idea of the history of where they lived and what the important and wonderful things about their area were. Many of them had never traveled outside of their county, let alone even thought about people in other states and countries.
Part of our job as educators is to widen their focus: from just looking at themselves to looking at their place and the place of others in our global community and learning to value each and every person.

Through the miracle of technology and the support of my district and Microsoft’s Skype in the Classroom, we started reaching outside of our classroom. Through World Wonder Day, my students worked with a class in Greece to study the problem of hunger and what we might be able to do about it. Through our Skype sessions, we collaborated on solutions and valued their input and ideas. My students’ interactions with the students in Greece provided them with the courage to act locally for the collective well-being. When we tripled the canned food drive results from our previous year’s efforts, and our sister class in Greece had volunteered significant time at a local soup kitchen to help feed their hungry, we celebrated each other and deepened our appreciation for global communication, collaboration and collective critical-thinking to help each other solve challenges.
Teaching numeracy and literacy is not enough: a quality education – Sustainable Development Goal #4 – requires that we set all learners on the pathway of acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to promote sustainable development and allow us to learn from each other. In this age of standardized testing that values how much one person knows, how can we best teach our students that the smartest person in the world IS the world?

Here are some places to start your journey:


The Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program (Fulbright TGC) is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX. It is governed by policies established by the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Fulbright TGC is a year-long professional development opportunity for U.S. elementary, middle, and high school teachers to develop skills for preparing students for a competitive global economy. Fulbright TGC equips teachers to bring an international perspective to their schools through targeted training, experience abroad, and global collaboration.


Connect with a global, professional learning community of other teachers, just like yourself, who are constantly pushing the boundaries of what a classroom looks and feels like by applying to become a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert.

A enthusiastic community of passionate educators who are constantly learning, growing and working together to change students’ lives and build a better world, MIE Experts share their learning with colleagues and other educators through local training programs in their own school systems, presentations at conferences, blogs, social channels, and more.

Also consider applying to be a Skype Master Teacher, a select collaborative group of teachers dedicated to creating global citizens among their students by bringing the world into their classrooms via Skype.


The Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Short-Term Program for U.S. Teachers is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX. It is governed by policies established by the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Fulbright DAST sends expert U.S. K–12 teachers and educators to participating countries to support projects identified by U.S. embassies and Fulbright commissions in schools, teacher training colleges, government ministries, or educational nongovernmental organizations.


NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for K-12 Educators provide school teachers across the nation the opportunity to broaden and deepen their engagement with the humanities. One- to four-week residential programs, led by scholars and K-12 professionals, allow participants (NEH Summer Scholars) to study a variety of humanities topics. Seminars and Institutes focus on the intellectual quality of humanities education and address recent developments in scholarship, teaching, and/or curriculum.

Digital Tools You Can Use:

Skype in the Classroom: A powerful tool for connecting classrooms around the world. My students and I use Skype a LOT to connect with students and educators around the country and the world. Skype will allow students the opportunity to connect with those students whose stories they have heard/read/seen and make even deeper connections.
SAMR Model Placement: Modification – Students will have watched stories from their Skype partner classroom and evaluated, compared and analyzed them against their own stories. Their conversation will focus on comparing and contrasting their stories and specifically finding similarities upon which to build relationships. A website which allows for safe posting of content which can be shared with all global classrooms registered on the site. This will give students a safe place to start sharing their stories and asking their fellow students around the world to post their stories. It’s also a wonderful website for continuing the conversation in a safe environment, if they should so wish.
SAMR Model Placement: Modification – Students will be sharing their stories and reading those of others, analyzing and evaluating each story to discern similarities and differences which will form the basis of their conversations on and on Skype.

Sway, PowerPoint, YouTube, Vimeo, Animoto, etc. All of these offer students ways to create their content in clear, elegant, appealing formats for publishing. There may also have to be some front-loading (pre-teaching, additional lessons, etc.) for students to be able to use these products to help them craft their stories well.

The Globally Competent Learning Continuum: The Globally Competent Learning Continuum (GCLC) identified the dispositions, knowledge, and skills that educators need to teach students from diverse backgrounds and prepare all students to thrive in a global society. The GCLC is a tool for self-reflection, used by educators wishing to reflect on their own level of global competence and to learn the characteristics included in higher levels to advance along the continuum.

This blog is not an official U.S. Department of State blog. The views and information presented are the grantee’s own and do not represent the Teachers for Global Classrooms Program, IREX, or the U.S. Department of State.