A number of cross-cutting practices emerged from our interviews with educational leaders. These point to immediate actions that educational leaders should consider first as they begin integrating global competence into schools.
Localize the global. These tenets all played out differently in different school contexts, which highlights that there is not “one way” to achieve them. Instead, school leaders contextualized their efforts to fit the needs and circumstances of their students and the school community. Nearly all school administrators we interviewed clearly articulated why global competence mattered for their students, whether that was a means of celebrating the diversity within their school setting, engaging students in ways that would make school relevant, or getting students to see beyond the homogenous bubble where they lived. They also connected global competence to the standards, curriculum, and content areas that staff already had to teach by supporting global competence integration into existing content areas.
- Include everyone in the process. Most of the school administrators we spoke with brought stakeholders together to come up with a shared definition of global competence and a collective agreement on how to incorporate it into the school mission and vision. They also handed the reins over to staff to lead global learning within their classrooms and across the school. Furthermore, they included families, local businesses, universities, and other community organizations in global learning activities, and included themselves by participating in the global competence learning process alongside students and staff.
Take time. Turning schools into playgrounds for global learning does not happen overnight. It is a process that takes months and years. The school leaders we interviewed made time to engage staff, students, families, and community members as they sought stakeholder buy-in and voices when they introduced global competence to the school. Leaders also built sustained relationships with external organizations to provide professional development and resources for global activities. Finally, they understood that the changes they hoped to see in students might not materialize until after they graduated, as developing global competence is a lifelong endeavor.