Shared Vision and Mission
Educational leaders facilitate, advocate, and enact a shared mission and vision of high-quality education that includes preparing students for life, work, and citizenship in a global society. This involves personally committing to incorporating global competence as a lens in their own practice; bringing stakeholders together to collectively define and incorporate “global” into the school vision, mission, and strategic plans; connecting global competence to the needs and priorities of students and the school community; modelling the school’s global competence mission and vision through daily actions, communications, and decisions; and determining what metrics to use to show how students demonstrate global competence success.
Incorporating global competence into a vision and mission that becomes meaningfully acted upon by all engaged stakeholders—including staff, students, families, and community members—takes time. As John Gabriel and Paul Farmer advise, “Don’t rush the vision statement; doing so leads to skepticism, stress, and distrust, which will lead to a statement that will eventually be ignored” (2009, p. 47). It also requires leaders to make the connections between global learning and local priorities (whether those priorities are creating a more inclusive environment for an influx of immigrant students, eliminating the achievement gap, or making the school more marketable amidst other schools of choice) and building upon initiatives in which students, staff, and the school community are already invested.
Tenet in Action
Educational leaders facilitate, advocate, and enact a shared mission and vision of high-quality education that includes preparing students for life, work, and citizenship in a global society. Globally competent educational leaders:
- Commit to incorporating global competence as a lens to their own practice.
- Bring stakeholders together to collectively define and incorporate “global” learning into the school vision, mission, and strategic plans.
- Connect global competence to the needs and priorities of students and the school community.
- Model global competence mission and vision through daily actions, communications, and decisions.
- Include global competence as part of school definition of student success, and determine what metrics to use to show how students demonstrate global competence success.
Suggested Activities: Shared Mission and Vision
Committing personally to incorporating global competence.
Mr. Julian Hipkins, Global Studies Coordinator, Theodore Roosevelt High School, Washington, DC
When Mr. Hipkins took on the role of global education coordinator of the District of Columbia Public Schools’ (DCPS) first global studies high school (one of three global studies schools in the district), he drew on his personal experience to articulate what a global studies school offers to the school community, and to grow understanding for leadership and faculty. He explains, “Travel and living abroad taught me to appreciate different cultures, and it gave me a new understanding and respect for differences. Roosevelt is my neighborhood school, and I want my students and peers to have their global experiences sooner. I want them to go into college with a global mindset, so they can travel, work abroad, and come to understand and respect differences at a much younger age than I did.” Mr. Hipkins started utilizing the Global Competence Framework adopted by DCPS and facilitated conversations with students, staff, and community stakeholders on the topic of global education. Mr. Hipkins believes that because global education asks students to be vulnerable by expressing themselves, it is important to create a cohort of educators who also feel comfortable being vulnerable; therefore, leadership must also be willing to put themselves in a vulnerable space so they can learn along with the students and staff.
Bringing stakeholders together to collectively define and incorporate global competence into the school vision, mission, and strategic plan.
Mr. Chris Balga, Assistant Principal, Harris Road Middle School, Concord, NC
Mr. Balga oversees three different committees that help support the global initiatives at Harris Road Middle School. Each committee includes multiple stakeholder groups, and while some members overlap, the distribution of global work across three committees allows different voices to be heard. First, a Global Committee meets every other month. This committee created the school’s vision and shared mission that defined global education. This was important because, as Mr. Balga says, “You google ‘global education’ and get 20,000 definitions. It all depends on the institution.” The Global Committee came up with the following definition for their school: connect, investigate, and collaborate. Connect emphasizes connecting with other cultures and understanding yourself and people around you. Investigate focuses on examining our local impact on the world. Collaborate emphasizes working together to bring positive solutions to global issues. After the committee arrived at the definition, the staff agreed upon it, and the definition was hung up in all classrooms. Along with creating the school definition of global education, the committee provides resources, tools, and professional development opportunities to assist teachers in this work, including onboarding new staff.
Second, the School Improvement Team, which includes teachers, parents, administrators, and community members, meets monthly to implement the state-mandated school improvement plan and set SMART school improvement goals. One of their school improvement goals focuses explicitly on global education. Third, the Aligned Instructional Leadership Team, which includes school administrators, professional learning community (PLC) liaisons, and lead teachers for each subject area, meets weekly to reflect on teacher progress and bring forth feedback for PLCs regarding global competence integration.
Connecting global competence to the needs and priorities of students and the school community.
Dr. Kimo Carter, Principal, Watertown Middle School, Watertown, MA
When Dr. Carter first became the principal of Watertown Middle School in 2005, he introduced a framework to articulate a shared understanding of global competence, looking at definitions from Primary Source and Fernando Reimers at Harvard, and ultimately settled on the Asia Society Framework. Once they decided upon the framework, Dr. Carter led a team of staff to catalogue what they were already doing as a school and as a district that fit under the Asia Society global competence framework. He shares, “Just as you’re teaching to standards, you have to walk teachers through the process of, ‘Here’s what I’m doing already and how I’m reaching the components of the framework.’ Maybe a grade level has done a traditional report on a country, now we have them look at it in light of the Asia Society framework to reflect on what areas they do well in and where they can improve.”
Staff also identified service-oriented activities to be a strong component of global education. For example, the school has community service hours they recommend students complete and multiple annual drives such as Coats for Kids, Pennies for Patients, and a Thanksgiving Basket Drive that provided baskets to newcomer families and families in need. The team also found that the school focused on understanding the world via traditional social studies, but needed to grow in understanding perspectives and communicating with diverse audiences.
Dr. Carter also believes that activities related to global competence have helped address friction between students from Irish, Italian, and Armenian backgrounds and newcomers from Middle Eastern countries. One teacher had a connection with Bernard LaFayette, a Martin Luther King supporter, who spoke at an assembly with teachers and police officers. According to Dr. Carter, “That professional development was transformative and yielded a lot of energy afterwards. Kids, teachers, and police wanted to take action. Now we have a student enrichment class on the principals of nonviolence and effecting peaceful change, have developed parent classes, and are partnering with Brandeis (a local university) to study this.”
Modeling global competence mission and vision through daily actions, communications, and decisions.
Mr. Rick Swanson, Principal, Hingham High School, Hingham, MA
Hingham High School recently revisited its core values when it went through the accreditation process, and added “global citizenship” and “environmental stewardship” to the list. Mr. Swanson explains, “Amending the core values went through a process of leadership meetings along with focus groups with students and parents. During these discussions, people asked why the environment and global citizenship weren’t already a core value as our school is deeply engaged with them and that’s what we’re known for.”
For the school to reach a place where global citizenship became an obvious choice as a core value did not happen overnight. It required bottom-up and top-down support that developed over the course of a decade. Mr. Swanson explains, “The vision comes from the ground up with effective leadership of administrators and core teachers directing it. There’s a contagion around it. When a passionate group people get organized, they pull in other allies, the momentum builds and ripples out. As an assistant principal, global citizenship and environmental stewardship were issues I was involved with. We garnered a lot of allies among faculty, students, and parents over the past ten years, which was aided by the high school’s Green Team and Global Citizenship Program becoming the biggest and most visible student groups. At this point, the infrastructure had built itself, so it was clear to everyone that global citizenship and the environment had to be on the core values list.”
Mr. Swanson intentionally makes the mission and core values come alive. The physical space of the school illuminates a global commitment. Murals and a display case in the hallways memorialize the school’s exchange program with a baseball team in Osaka, Japan. Posters advertising school trips abroad are prominently displayed in the hallways. The Global Citizenship Program club has a huge bulletin board to advertise upcoming events. Even Mr. Swanson displays photos in his office of the global exchanges he participated in, clearly indicating his personal commitment to global learning. Mr. Swanson also models a global mindset so that students, teachers, and parents believe global learning makes the school special. This is evident through professional development that teachers participate in, international trips that the school runs, and the enthusiasm around their homegrown Global Citizenship Program. He shares, “If you stop and talk to students and teachers and ask what this school is good at and what we’re about, they will say global awareness, the environment, and welcoming people.”
Books and Articles
Battelle for Kids and EdLeader21. Portrait of a graduate.
Gabriel, J. G., & Farmer, P. C. (2009). How to help your school thrive without breaking the bank: Chapter 2: Mission and vision. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Gallagher, A., & Thordarson, K. (2018). Design thinking for school leaders: Five roles and mindsets that ignite positive change. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Goodwin, B., & Cameron, G. (2015). Balanced leadership for powerful learning: Tools for achieving success in your school. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Mansilla, V. B., & Jackson. A. (2011). Educating for global competence: Preparing our youth to engage the world. New York: Council of Chief State School Officers and Asia Society.
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. (2017). NC global ready schools.
OECD. (2018). Preparing our youth for an inclusive and sustainable world: The OECD PISA global competence framework. Paris, France: Author.
Owens, B. (2017, November). Do you know your school’s vision? Tips on making a meaningful vision statement. Education Week.
Primary Source. (2017). Building global schools toolkit.
Reimers, F. (2017). Empowering students to improve the world in sixty lessons. Seattle, WA: CreateSpace Publishing.
Sheniger, E. C., & Murray, T. C. (2017). Learning transformed: 8 keys to designing tomorrow’s schools, today. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
U.S. Department of Education. Framework for developing global and cultural competencies to advance equity, excellence, and economic competitiveness. Washington, DC: Author.
Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2007). Schooling by design: Mission, action, and achievement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
World Savvy. (n.d.). Global competence matrix.