Global Awareness and the Standards: How is Global Awareness Defined and Evaluated in the NC Teacher Evaluation ProcessIntroduction

Global awareness is embedded in the very mission of North Carolina's public schools in that its aim is for all students to "graduate...[and be] globally competitive...and prepared for life in the 21st century" (NCDPI Mission Statement)."21st century" appears thirteen times in the goals that accompany the mission statement. Global awareness is listed as one of the key components of 21st century content, and the usage of 21st century skills to recognize and tackle global concerns is identified as a facet of global awareness (McRel, 2008, p. 14). Our North Carolina Teacher Evaluation Process is "...based on the Framework for 21st Century Learning and the North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards (McRel, 2008, p. 1), and global awareness is emphasized throughout both of these documents and the Teacher Evaluation Process. Therefore, understanding what global awareness is and demonstrating the ability to teach this concept to students is integral to being a successful teacher in North Carolina Public Schools in the 21st century.What IS Global Awareness?According to the Framework for 21st Century Learning, global awareness is a core part of "...the skills, knowledge, and expertise students should master to succeed in work and life in the 21st century" (McRel, 2008, p.12). Global awareness is one of the"21st century interdisciplinary themes" (McRel, 2008, p.12) that should be intertwined with core subjects in order to foster "...understanding of academic content at much higher levels" (McRel, 2008, p. 12). Parsing this verbage, what does it mean to elevate students' understanding of academic content via 21st century interdisciplinary themes, such as global awareness, which incidentally is the only them not identified as a literacy (Financial, Economic, Business, and Entrepreneurial Literacy; Civic Literacy; and Health Literacy)? How can global awareness complement and elevate core academic subjects (English, reading or language arts, mathematics, economics, science, geography, history, government, and civics)? When educators figure out the answer to this question, they can achieve a "distinguished" rating for the elements and standards that include global awareness, which are several.This question isn't answered in the literature that accompanies the Framework for 21st Century Learning, the NC Professional Teaching Standards, or the Evaluation Instrument. What is answered, to a degree, is what is meant by the phrase "global awareness"? The "Milestones for Improving Learning and Education (MILE) guide," was created by the Partnership for 1st Century Skills "to assist educators and administrators in measuring the progress of their schools in defining, teaching, and assessing 21st century skills," (McRel, 2008, p. 14). From the MILE guide, the following definition was adapted and used in the development of the North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards:
  • "Using 21st century skills to understand and address global issues.
  • Learning from and working collaboratively with individuals representing diverse cultures, religions and lifestyles in a spirit of mutual respect and open dialogue in personal, work and community contexts.
  • Having the ability to utilize non-English languages as a tool for understanding other nations and cultures" (McRel, 2008, p. 14).

According to this definition, 21st century skills (learning and innovation skills, including creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, and communication and collaboration; information, media, and technology skills; and life and career skills, including flexibility and adaptability, initiave and self-direction, social and cross-cultural skills, productivity and accountability, and leadership and responsibility) are embedded in the meaning of "global awareness," making this concept an all-encompassing of the Partnership's vision of quality education for 21st century learners.

Global Awareness in the Standards
In the North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards, global awareness is prevelant throughout.

Standard 1: Teachers Demonstrate Leadership
Element A: Teachers lead in their classrooms.
Included in this standard is the expectation that "Teachers demonstrate leadership by taking responsibility for the progress of all students to ensure that they graduate from high school, are globally competitive for work and postsecondary education, and are prepared for life in the 21st Century," (North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards Commission, 2008, p.2). Basically, the assumption is that a teacher who leads in the classroom will at the very least support the mission of the state school board. In order to ensure that students graduate and are globally competitive, an educator must first be globally aware. If not, how will (s)he know what the competition is and how to prepare students to be serious contenders in the 21st Century marketplace?

If you recall, the second component of global awareness, as delineated by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, is "learning from and working collaboratively with individuals representing diverse cultures, religions and lifestyles in a spirit of mutual respect and open dialogue in personal, work and community contexts" (McRel, 2008, p. 14).

In element a, an accomplished teacher "Creates a classroom culture that empowers students to collaborate" (McRel, 2008, p. 21). It is apparent that enabling students to be collabroative is wrapped up in being globally competitive because as Friedman (2007) notes in his book, The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, people are now doing business (and research and learning, etc.) with anyone from anywhere anytime as a result of advances in communication technologies. If our students do not learn to collaborate, they will be left behind. Further, if they do not learn to collaborate with a wide variety of people, not just people in the United States, they will be uncomfortable at best and out-moded at worst in 21st century life, and educators will not have lived up to the mission of North Carolina's public schools.

Standard II: Teachers Establish a Respectful Environment for a Diverse Population of Students
Element B of this standard requires teachers to "embrace diversity in the school community and in the world" (North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards Commission, 2008, p. 2). The Commission further clarifies how teachers are to achieve this goal. Successful teachers:

"demonstrate their knowledge of the history of diverse cultures and their role in shaping global issues. They actively select materials and develop lessons that counteract stereotypes and incorporate histories and contributions of all cultures.Teachers recognize the influence of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and other aspects of culture on a student's development and personality. Teachers strive to understand how a student's culture and background may influence his or her school performance. Teachers consider and incorporate different points of view in their instruction" (North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards Commission, 2008, p.2).

Again, these criteria are intimately linked with the second component of global awareness, as delineated by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills , "learning from and working collaboratively with individuals representing diverse cultures, religions and lifestyles in a spirit of mutual respect and open dialogue in personal, work and community contexts" (McRel, 2008, p. 14). In order to demonstrate competency in this standard, teachers must be globally aware and must impart that awareness to their students. Further, this element gives educators more guidance in terms of how to demonstrate global awareness and incorporate the teaching of this content in their classrooms, specifically to exhibit "knowledge of diverse cultures, their histories, and their roles in shaping global issues," which is necessary to be proficient in this element of Standard II; to "...acknowledge the contributions of all cultures," required for being accomplished; and to endorse "a deep understanding of all cultures through the integration of culturally sensitive materials and ideas throughout the curriculum," which is the mark of a distinguished teacher in this element (McRel, 2008, p. 23). A teacher in a science class, for example, could highlight important scientific innovations made in other countries (or by people from other countries) historically and currently.

A look at the example artifacts listed for Standard II provide further focus for educators trying to figure out how to rise to these expectations. Lessons incorporating global content and using technology "to incorporate cultural awareness into lessons" are two ways one can demonstrate the global awareness portion of this standard (McRel, 2008, p. 24).

Standard III: Teachers Know the Content They Teach
In this standard, global awareness is mentioned explicitly by name. Global awareness factors prominently in both elements c and d.

Element C: Teachers know the content appropriate to their teaching speciality.
In addition to knowing the SCOS for their content area and knowing how their content relates to other content areas, this element also states that "teachers promote global awareness and its relevance to subjects they teach" (McRel, 2008, p. 26). A developing teacher is one who displays global awareness; a proficient teacher also advocates for global awareness and connects it to the content; an accomplished teacher "Integrates global awareness activities throughout lesson plans and classroom instructional practices;" and a distinguished teacher takes the concept a step further by promoting "global awareness and its relevance to all faculty members, influencing curriculum and teaching practices throughout the school" (McRel, 2008, p. 2). The standards and the rubric make it evident that teachers will need to do more than a one-shot lesson incorporating global awareness in order to be proficient. It is likely that many of us will need to revamp our lesson plans and activities in order to bring our instruction in alignment with these 21st century expectations.

Element D: Teachers make instruction relevant to students.
In element d, teachers are expected to make instruction relevant to students' lives both through the incorporation of 21st century life skills and by helping their students understand the relationships between the //North Carolina Standard Course of Study// which includes global awareness..."(McRel, 2008, p. 26). A proficient teacher "identifies relationships between the core content and 21st century content" (of which global awareness is a part; an accomplished teacher "integrates core content and 21st century content throughout lesson plans and classroom instructional practices;" and a distinguished teacher "deepens students' understanding of 21st century skills and helps them make their own connections and develop new skills" (McRel, 2008, p. 26). Situating the student in his/her own education will make your instruction relevant--if a student understands why learning something matters to him, (s)he is more likely to be motiviated to learn the material. This element makes it clear that teachers need to explain to students the importance of global awareness--what this will mean in their lives. For example, in a Career and Technical Education class, one could explore why elective offerings in the high schools have changed in response to a changing workforce, one that had to respond to the eradication of many textile jobs in North Carolina. Again, this element reiterates the point that 21st century content, which includes global awareness, needs to be woven throughout the content, rather than being taught infrequently or as stand-alone components.

A closer look at what these 21st Century Life and Career Skills are comprised of brings what it means to be globally competitive into sharper focus. See pages 6 and 7 of the Partnership's P21 Framework Definitions for a full listing of these skills.

Standard IV: Teachers Facilitate Learning For Their Students
Element F: Teachers help students work in teams and develop leadership skills.
Again, this element has direct linkage to the collaborative skills inherent in the definition of global awareness. As teachers "teach the importance of cooperation and collaboration....they organize learning teams in order to help students define roles, strengthen social ties, improve communication and collaborative skills, interact with people from different cultures and backgrounds, and develop leadership qualities" (McRel, 2008, p. 28). In order for students to compete globally (as delinated by the state board's mission statement), this collaboration is vital. To meet the demands of this standard, a teacher who is accomplished nurtures these skills (leadership and teamwork) not just in the classroom but for use beyond the classroom. Teachers could develop projects in coordination with educators around the world to show students the importance of global networking and collaboration and how to use technology to achieve these ends.

Element H: Teachers use a variety of methods to assess what each student has learned.
This element requires teachers to be able to assess students' understanding of their "...21st century knowledge, skills, performances, and dispositions" (McRel, 2008, p. 29). In order for teachers to assess their students' in this area, they must develop and or identify assessments that do so. Remember, global awareness is a component of 21st century knowledge. A teacher at the proficient level will use both formative and summative assessment; one who is accomplished will use this data in a feedback loop to improve their instruction. An accomplished teacher takes the assessment a step further, asking students to peer and self assess. When students take an active part in providing feedback, they are required to be metacognitive--to deeply process what they (and their peers) have learned and to think about their thinking. An accomplished teacher will also share their strategies for assessing 21st century knowledge with their colleagues and will incite them to use such assessments in their practice for the purpose of improving instruction.

What could such assessment look like in practice? Let's say you are an English teacher who has just finished a unit that integrates global awareness. After reading Night, by Elie Wiesel, students have been asked to undertake social justice projects, projects that explore social injustices around the world. Their assignment is to complete a research project exploring their chosen topic and to present the information in a format of their choice (a children's book published digitally through lulu, a Prezi, a PhotoStory, etc.). Formative assessment could involve observations of students discussing these projects in small groups. Groups or individuals that struggled to brainstorm topics would lack global awareness, and the teacher would then adjust his instruction to expose them to current and historical global social justice issues, such as the Rwandan Genocide, the genocide that occured during the Guatemalan Civil War, and the Darfur conflict. Formative assessments for 21st century skills needed in this project could take the shape of Classroom Assessment Techniques, in which students could list questions they have regarding the execution of their projects. This feedback would allow the teacher to address inadequacies in 21st century skills such as research and or using the required technologies.

A summative assessment of this project could be the project itself--assessed using a rubric created by the teacher with student input. Allowing students to help create the grading criteria will allow them to be involved in the feedback process. Students could also be asked to do peer and self-assessments using these rubrics. Students could reflect on their own learning at the end of the project. The English teacher can use the assessment data to both shape current instruction and to make plans for improving future instruction. For example, the next time this teacher teaches this unit, she might integrate discussions of global issues that are related to the Holocaust from the start so that students are exposed to such issues in advance. She might create mini-lessons to address common research and/or technological difficulties encountered and can use these in prior units so that students continue to increase their proficiency and comfort level. This reflection would illustrate proficiency in Standard V, which requires teachers to reflect on their practice in order to improve it (McRel, 2008, p. 30).

Standard V: Teachers Reflect on Their Practice
Element B: Teachers link professional growth to their professional goals.
In this element, teachers are expected to "participate in continued, high-quality professional development that reflects a global view of educational practices; includes 21st century skills and knowledge; aligns with the State Board of Education priorities; and meets the needs of students and their own professional growth" (McRel, 2008, p.30). In order for teachers to prepare students to be globally competitive in the 21st century, they need to themselves acquire those skills and knowledge, which includes global awareness. To that end, teachers need to be involved with professional development that is not just one-shot.

ConclusionsFrom this analysis of the North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards, the Rubric for Evaluating North Carolina Teachers, and the accompanying support documents, it is apparent that global awareness is a fundamental part of preparing students to be globally competitive, the primary aim of North Carolina's public schools. In this writing, I track global awareness through the teaching standards. Dr. Vachel Miller, Assistant Professor of Education at Appalachian State University , takes a critical look at the ideology of the standards in his article, "A Star to Guide Us? Questions About the North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards and the Ideology of Education in the Service of Global Economic Competition" (2010), and encourages educators to examine the thinking behind the standards. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is a foundational part of our new teaching standards, and this organization also merits further examination.


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What do you think? b_faulkner b_faulkner 0 101 Feb 26, 2011 by b_faulkner b_faulkner