Teaching and learning under adverse conditions

Join educational researcher Nina Alonso for a new podcast series as she shares powerful stories from teachers around the world, talking in their own words about their own experiences. In this episode of Teachers’ Voices, we explore the challenges of teaching and learning under adverse conditions with special guest, Willem Frankenhuis. Willem is an expert … Read more

Knowledge Is Power And Teaching Is The Fuel

Knowledge Is Power And Teaching Is The Fuel by Terry Heick That knowledge = power isn’t a new idea. ’Knowledge is power’ is a common refrain in the education community, at least in spirit. The idea that knowledge changes lives and that accordingly we can change the world underpins everything that we do as educators. … Read more

How Do You Teach Social-Emotional Learning?

The recent shift toward social emotional learning (SEL)–accelerated by the shift to remote teaching and learning and the isolation of a global pandemic–is, of course, a wonderful thing. If nothing else, it’s a nod and a wink to the idea that students are first people. Emotion drives us as human beings–our brains literally, for example. … Read more

Putting Citizenship in Global Perspective in the ELA Classroom

This summer we’re revisiting some popular past posts with themes of continuing relevance. The following post was contributed by NCTE member Vivian Yenika-Agbaw, and was originally published on July 4, 2017, as part of an ongoing monthly series from the NCTE Standing Committee on Global Citizenship.
Global Citizenship “is a way of living that recognises our world is an increasingly complex web of connections and interdependencies. One in which our choices and actions may have repercussion for people and communities locally, nationally or internationally” (Ideas for Global Citizenship).
This concept is of particular interest to us as we celebrate our nation’s independence on the Fourth of July. It allows us to ponder how our ancestors had managed to secure our freedom as a nation from the British, and how we had to wrestle with the contradictory content of our Constitution that celebrates the right to be free while still holding others in bondage.
Therefore, we should take this time to contemplate deeply what it means to be an American citizen, and who should be considered an American. As we reflect on this nationalistic notion of citizenship, we should also consider engaging in dialogues of what it means to be a global citizen, especially in a world where leaders are constantly rethinking physical boundaries in order to hold tight to their national identities, and the tension such nationalistic views might create. In so doing, they undermine major aspects of our collective humanity that allow us to cultivate a nurturing world for everyone.
Many do not realize that what we do within our local communities can and does impact communities in other regions of the world, for we are interconnected in this way, even when we engage in charity work that touches many across the globe, or participate in political rallies to make democracy possible elsewhere.
Ronald C. Israel, co-founder of the Global Citizens’ Initiative, observes that,
Most of us on the path to global citizenship are still somewhere at the beginning of our journey. Our eyes have been opened and our consciousness raised. Instinctively, we feel a connection with others around the world yet we lack the adequate tools, resources, and support to act on our vision. Our ways of thinking and being are still colored by the trapping of old allegiances and ways of seeing things that no longer are as valid as they used to be. There is a longing to pull back the veil that keeps us from more clearly seeing the world as a whole and finding more sustainable ways of connecting with those who share our common humanity.
If fathoming how one can be an American citizen and yet be able to perceive oneself as a global citizen may seem challenging, perhaps we should start by examining how we serve our local communities on a regular basis.
Community Services: Local and Global Connections
Many educators are already engaged in practices that impact global communities and reflect their global citizenry even if they are not aware. At a spring 2017 professional development school conference in State College, PA, I attended a session where a teacher presented about a partnership with a school in Africa where they collect books and send them to students. This session was of particular interest to me because I know firsthand how difficult it is for schoolteachers in several public schools across the continent to find basic educational resources for their classrooms.
Also, having served as a member of the Children’s Africana Book Awards committee, I am also privy to book publication initiatives on topics such as The Water Project.
One such publication is a picture book, Gizo-Gizo, on the Zongo Story Project that emerged from a partnership between Emily Williamson and John Schaidler from Minneapolis and the Hassaniyya Quranic School in Ghana. The back matter notes:
Working closely with local teachers, Emily Williamson carried out a series of educational workshops at [the school] to teach students about local water and environmental concerns. . . . Building on previous work at his children’s schools in Minneapolis and New York City, John [Schaidler] spent the summers . . . in the remote village of Humjibre in Ghana’s Western District.
For more on this, check out www.zongostoryproject.com. The water problem is local to that specific community, but the solution takes a collective effort that includes a global initiative involving communities from two continents. This is one way we connect at the human level.
Several picture books have documented these types of global partnerships.
Environment
Where the Forest Meets the Sea by Jeannie Baker
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul; Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
The Water Princess by Georgie Badiel and Susan Verde; illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Religious Diversity
Faith by Maya Ajmera, Cynthia Pon, and Magda Nakassis
Sacred Places by Philemon Sturges; illustrated by Giles Laroche

Refugees
The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney; illustrated by Shane W. Evans
Pablo Finds a Treasure by Andrée Poulin; illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant

Education
For the Right to Learn by Rebecca Langston-George; illustrated by Janna Bock

Activism
Counting on Community by Innosanto Nagara
A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

More Global Citizenship Resources
Worlds of Words: Building bridges across global cultures through children’s and adolescent literature
Africa Access: Links to a variety of resources on topics related to the continent of Africa
Teaching Good Citizenship’s Five Themes, from Education World: A focus on the five basic themes of good citizenship (honesty, compassion, respect, responsibility, and courage)
Picture Books about Citizenship
Digital Citizenship: Explores the “9 Key Ps” of digital citizenship
Seven strategies to get children talking and thinking about digital citizenship
Teens and Digital Citizenship: Responsible digital citizenship can help your child have a safer and more satisfying experience online.
OXFAM’s guide for global citizenship
A free lesson plan on a global citizenship workshop

Work Cited
Israel, Roland (2012). “What Does It Mean to be a Global Citizen?” Kosmos: Journal for Global Transformation. http://www.kosmosjournal.org/article/what-does-it-mean-to-be-a-global-citizen/  Accessed: June 22, 2017.

Vivian Yenika-Agbaw is professor of literature and literacy in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Penn State University. She publishes and presents primarily on topics related to issues of social justice and the representation of populations that have been historically marginalized and under-represented in youth texts and culture (with particular concern toward race, class, gender, and dis/abilities). Her work has appeared in a variety of journals and she is is currently a co-editor of the Journal of Children’s Literature housed by the Children’s Literature Assembly of the NCTE. She has also published many books, and is a contributor to the new NCTE book Reading and Teaching with Diverse Nonfiction Children’s Books: Representations and Possibilities (forthcoming in July 2021).

It is the policy of NCTE in all publications, including the Literacy & NCTE blog, to provide a forum for the open discussion of ideas concerning the content and the teaching of English and the language arts. Publicity accorded to any particular point of view does not imply endorsement by the Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, the staff, or the membership at large, except in announcements of policy, where such endorsement is clearly specified.

Class size is a complex issue

Class size has historically been a contentious issue for parents, schools, and policymakers. There has been a lot of research on the topic, but in many cases the wrong questions have been asked. Taking a look at the evidence, the authors of a new book argue that class size does indeed matter, but why and … Read more

What can we learn from teachers around the world?

Join educational researcher Nina Alonso for a new podcast series as she shares powerful stories from teachers around the world, talking in their own words about their own experiences. Welcome to the first episode of Teachers’ Voices where you’ll hear three very different stories of teachers teaching in very different learning environments. These educators all … Read more

“Teachers’ stories need to be shared”

In a new BOLD podcast series, educational researcher Nina Alonso shares powerful stories from teachers around the world, as well as insights from experts on learning and development. In a conversation with BOLD Editor-in-Chief Gemma Wirz, Nina explains what motivated her to create the podcast, and what she has learned from talking with teachers across … Read more

Introducing Teachers’ Voices

Teachers are one of the most influential and powerful forces for equity, access and quality in education. They provide children with the knowledge, skills, attitude and tools needed to reach their full potential. Join Nina Alonso for this brand new podcast series as she shares powerful stories from teachers around the world, talking in their … Read more