How a global framework impacts students, their communities and their futures

With the help of Participate Learning's Global Leaders framework, schools are able to incorporate global themes into their classrooms, increasing engagement, empathy and academic performance in students.

Posted Updated
Abbey Slattery
, WRAL Digital Solutions
This article was written for our sponsor, Participate Learning.

As technology continues to allow more communication and collaboration across the world, the students of today will be entering a global society that's more connected than ever before. A global education can prepare and empower these students to take on the challenges of tomorrow.

Through Participate Learning, a global education organization, schools get the help they need to bring students a world-focused education. The Global Leaders framework helps make this not only possible, but also approachable.

"Being a Global Leader is really about helping schools unify initiatives that they are already doing for kids, things like social-emotional learning and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support initiatives— all of these priorities are required across the state, but the Global Leader framework helps unify them," said Ashley Solesbee, a former middle school teacher and current manager of education programs at Participate Learning. "This framework is all about thinking about who we want kids to be and intentionally growing global competencies and leadership skills, as well as mastering state standards that they would have to do anyway. We're trying to bring the focus to what kind of people these kids are going to grow up and become, and how they can contribute to a global society when they do that."

Building on the tagline of "pay attention, feel connected, take action," the Global Leaders framework focuses on teaching children to be empathetic and flexible critical thinkers. In order to do so, teachers incorporate things like action-based research projects, community outreach and student-centered instruction.

"It doesn't matter whether you're a kindergartner or an eighth-grader," said Solesbee. "Knowing that you can actually change the world by making a difference in your local community is powerful and transformative."

For Participate Learning, there are three major benefits to this type of initiative, in the form of resources for instructors and their students. These include:

  • A library of adaptable lesson plans, reading lists and activities
  • Professional development and instructional support for teachers through practice, workshops, self-guided courses and international communities
  • Tools for administrators, like strategic planning and goal setting assistance

In Granville County, teachers and students at West Oxford Elementary have firsthand experience with this global framework.

"Oxford is a very small town, and we were excited about exposing kids to life beyond Granville County. But one of the things that's interesting about the Global Leaders framework is that it is less about teaching the kids about different places all over the world, and more about teaching them how to be a good leader, both at home and in the larger world around that," said Bethany Bonnemere, principal at West Oxford Elementary. "One of the things that we do here very intentionally is take a month to talk about a specific global competency. We've covered self-awareness and respect for differences, and we're getting ready to learn about curiosity."

During each month, teachers prepare lessons that are aligned with whatever value is being emphasized. For example, when talking about self-awareness, students in art class created self-portraits, but incorporated images that were related to their culture. The portraits were then displayed in the local library.

No matter what competency or global lesson a class is focusing on, teachers try to make it relevant on a local level, as well.

"One thing we talk a lot about is global themes and how these global themes connect to what we know locally. Recently we talked about hunger, which is a global issue, but it's also something some of our kids are intimately familiar with. We did a canned food drive and walked the donations up to the local food bank," said Bonnemere. "It's great to be able to show kids these big issues that affect the whole world, but also what that looks like in their community. Our kids get to recognize that they can be a part of a solution to a global issue, but connect to it on a local level."

Other lessons at the school have included scavenger hunts around the community — with stops at the library, post office, food bank and more — as well as guest speakers like local firefighters.

As a result of this framework, Bonnemere's teachers have reported an increase in student engagement. By incorporating a global framework that keeps students interested, Bonnemere hopes to continue seeing impacts years down the road.

"These kids are going to inherit the world that we live in, and we're not leaving them a perfect planet," said Bonnemere. "Through a global framework, we're preparing them to be problem solvers and make a real difference."

This article was written for our sponsor, Participate Learning.


Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.