Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Create a Global Classroom for Social Change

Guest post by: Rusul Alrubail


Events occur on a daily basis locally and globally, and they affect us all. As teachers, after our initial reactions, we tend to always think about how to discuss these ambient events with our students.

Should I ask them if they heard about it?
Should I introduce the news to them in the form of an article to read?
Should they discuss the issue in groups?
Should they write a personal reflection about their thoughts?
Maybe a debate works best for this occurrence?

These questions and many more float through our heads to try to make sense of translating an impactful occurrence to our students. Our goal as teachers should always be to create a safe environment for students to learn, critique, and most importantly to ask questions. Creating a global classroom for students can help with advancing these thoughts and ideas and move them towards a positive social change.

Creating a global classroom is when a teacher fosters a learning atmosphere that raises awareness about global issues, events and communities. All teachers can introduce global learning to their students, varying from all levels and all subjects. Creating a global classroom can be an important step for teachers to invest in their students’ interest, motivation and drive for social change.


There are countless benefits to creating a global classroom that inspires social change in our students. Here are just a few of them:
  • Allows students to see a world outside their own.
  • Opens up different avenues, pathways and possibilities for students to connect with other kids and their communities and learn more about those communities.
  • Build bridges and fills gaps between countries and continents through student voice.
  • Learn about cultures, customs and traditions of global communities.
  • Builds kindness and empathy in students.
  • Triggers motivation and inspires students to make a difference and create a social impact in and outside of their communities.
  • Gives students an opportunity to research, question, debate and think critically about global issues.
  • Students will gain knowledge and understanding of social activism and its impact on social justice and equality globally.

Where to Start?

Remember that a global classroom can be any class, any subject, any level. Why? because students are able to show kindness and empathy when they start school. It’s important to start at a young age to build these necessary emotions and allow them to see things from different perspectives.

  1. Have a discussion with students about global learning: With all ages, communicate to them, as you would with all your lessons, “why” you’re doing this activity. Communication sets the tone for the rest of the activity, the motivation of the students and impacts their learning.
  2. Incorporate activities that fit well with the classroom learning outcomes. Whether you’re teaching English, social studies, or history incorporating lessons that create a global classroom can be a great multidisciplinary learning objective.
  3. Put those plans into actions: These activities don’t have to be for your eyes only, you can share your students’ work with your community or globally. Bonus points if the activity leads to having a positive social impact globally.

Here’s my favourite quote by Lily Tomlin:

Classroom resources & activities (K12):

Unicef’s resources are great not only because they align with the mission, but also because they’re divided by elementary and secondary. Also, the information, resources, activities and lesson plans are very detailed and thorough. Any teacher can easily adopt their ideas in her classroom.

Edutopia: Global Education Resource Roundup: http://www.edutopia.org/article/global-education-resources

This Edutopia page provides a list of resources, websites, blogs and discussions regarding creating a global classroom. This resource is great if you’re looking to see other educator’s perspectives on creating a global classroom.

Canadian Civil Liberties Association: Teaching Critical Thinking for Social Justice: http://ccla.org/education-2/resources/lessonplans/

This is an non-profit organization that promotes human rights and civil liberties. What’s really interesting is that they offer lesson plans for teachers to incorporate social justice in their classroom. The lessons are divided by age group, outlines the objectives, materials and the actual lesson in its entirty: http://ccla.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/CCLET_Seeking-Refuge-Lesson-Plan.pdf
Most teachers, 66% to be exact, don’t really know of this open educational resources. They are a wealth for teachers of all levels and subjects. Here you can find lesson plans, handouts, ideas, slides, videos, tools for your classroom. I searched Global classroom and there’s over 190 links of great resources for teachers to use to create and inspire students to make a difference in their classroom.

Our Impact on Education:  We as educators have the privilege of empowering students on a daily basis to believe in the power of an individual and the impact one can have on someone else’s life and wellbeing. Students need to know that they can make a difference, through their words and their actions. Teaching our students that they are important and their voice counts can move beyond our classroom walls, beyond our communities and can reach out to global communities, to another child. And that is a difference worth fighting for in education.

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