Standing Up for Teachers is an International Endeavor

2012 International Summit on the Teaching Profession

The 2012 International Summit on the Teaching Profession was held in New York City. In 2013, the Summit will be hosted by the Netherlands, OECD and EI. It will be held in Amsterdam.

Today teachers across the globe, from Budapest to Ramallah, are celebrating World Teachers’ Day. Using the theme “Taking a Stand for Teachers!” educators are meeting with students to encourage them to become teachers, holding rallies and leading discussions about the strengthening the teaching profession. Learning about these events excites me and makes me want to connect with my international peers.

In 2011, leaders in the US Department of Education did just that when they met with some of their peers from around the world at the First International Summit on the Teaching Profession. As a result of their participation in the Summit, the Department developed the RESPECT project. Over 3500 teachers provided input into the RESPECT vision statement for strengthening and elevating the teaching profession in the United States.

Building on that work, leaders gathered again in March 2012 for a second international summit.  The US participants (including Secretary Duncan, the Presidents of AFT and NEA and the Executive Director of CCSSO) developed a framework to guide their respective work. This vision aligns with RESPECT, by calling for better teacher preparation, building the capacity of teachers to share leadership and responsibility, and improving professional development for teachers and principals.

A teacher and 2010 Teaching Ambassador Fellow, Linda Yaron, recently worked with teachers in India as part of the State Department’s Teachers for Global Classrooms Program. Linda feels “that the more we can structure relevant, global experiences in and out of the classroom, the more we can deepen what it means to teach and learn in the 21st century.”

Secretary Duncan’s statement for World Teachers’ Day echoes Linda’s words. Teachers, he said, “empower students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the 21st century, and they connect them to people, languages, and experiences beyond their home borders. “

As a teacher I try to prepare my students to succeed in the 21st century. Yet, on World Educator Day, I find myself inspired to model 21st century skills for my students by connecting with teachers across different languages and beyond borders at the local and global level just as Secretary Duncan did with his colleagues from around the globe at the international summits.

Do you know of ways to connect with teachers in other countries?

Lisa Clarke is 2012-2013 Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow on loan to the Department from Kent, Washington.


  1. If we are celebrating and respecting teachers, then why is it that (1) we are now being evaluated, with very little feedback, and even have had our students do anonymous reflections on our teaching – which we haven’t gotten to see yet. There is no extra professional development being offered to address the issues the district or state feel are most needed to be done well by teachers, but a lot about how we’re being evaluated. And (2) Virginia completely changed its SOL – in Reading and Writing. The Writing is now on the computer and it’s time limited – why? You’re not time limited in college and perhaps you are in your career, but you rarely have to write to a prompt that has no meaning to you and upon which your graduation from high school depends. Further, there are now online questions – very similar in form to the SATs, which is fine – we just have to be able to teach our kids how to deal with these tests and find out the tricks of the trade, BUT Virginia, unlike the SATs, will not give any credit for partially correct answers. This is completely unrealistic and unfair – in life, it is not an all or nothing event. We can get things partially correct and get credit for it. We do need to be preparing our kids to be college, career, and citizen ready – but from my understanding, they changed the VA SOL because our kids were learning to do well on it. Isn’t that what we were working for? And how does this encourage our students to keep trying when they don’t even get credit for the answers that they DO get correct???

  2. My brother is currently in his second year of teaching, and after listening to the struggles that he goes through every day I cannot imagine how anyone still wants to become a teacher. However, we still need educators and as stated, it is increasingly more challenging to get qualified people to join this profession.
    You talk about the RESPECT project; this is absolutely on target. As a student myself, I can see the lack of appreciation our teachers are given; I can see how hard teachers must work; I can see how frustrating it must be to deal with students who do not seem to care about their education. It must be a shock to some teachers when they first begin teaching, as the ideal teaching situation can rarely be experienced! With fewer and fewer resources, stricter standards, more testing measures for teachers, and variety of dedication from students, I for one would not consider a career in education despite my love of learning and sharing my knowledge with others.
    On the other hand, from my perspective as a student, some educators do not deserve their positions. The preparedness of a teacher, their professional experience, their adaptability to new technology and the developing professional environment, and their ability to effectively teach the subject to a group of students will be a significant indicator of their success in the eyes of students. I can remember the best teachers of my high school and college years because of the skills these outstanding educators taught me that I can actually use in my job field and in everyday life.
    Even with some excellent teachers in my past, I still feel uneducated compared to some of my fellow students, usually the Internationals. While they have different experiences here simply because of studying in a foreign country, I feel that their previous education has better prepared them for further study and work. I know this is another issue in America; our national education is not standing up to other countries. The idea to broaden education here through international connections is innovative and can have great impacts on students. I completely agree with Linda Yaron’s statement.
    The expansion of education into the international realm could lead to great achievements in student knowledge. In the ever-flattening world, as Thomas Friedman would put it, connecting with other countries is necessary and easy. While the curriculums are different, the introductions and cultural understanding can go a long way in today’s world.
    The steps teachers take to be better educators will have a great impact on how students succeed. Opening education up to international learning will aid effectiveness of teachers in many important areas of study. Students with these opportunities will undoubtedly be in a better position to get ahead.

    • Thank you SLSWLP for such a thoughtful reply. I would encourage you to share the RESPECT project with your brother. Good luck with your studies.

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