Exploring the 5 Characteristics of the Global Digital Teacher

by | Jul 16, 2017

The roles and responsibilities of the Global Digital Citizen are many and diverse. What about someone a little closer to the classroom home? Say hello to an educator for modern times and innovative teaching and learning—the Global Digital Teacher. Teachers don’t just teach anymore; they’ve been much more than that for a long time.

In our digital world teachers have become guides, mentors, role models, counsellors, and facilitators. They must be global citizens, ethics experts, and divergent critical thinkers. It’s time to shine a light on what it takes to be a Global Digital Teacher.

Let’s look at this remarkable figure through the eyes of Global Digital Citizenship itself. The 5 tenets of the Global Digital Citizen are:

  1. Personal Responsibility
  2. Global Citizenship
  3. Digital Citizenship
  4. Altruistic Service
  5. Environmental Stewardship

The Global Digital Teacher holds some very crucial roles in the modern innovative classroom that relate to these tenets. They include things like:

  • an understanding of technology and its benefits/dangers to students
  • knowledge and appreciation of the diverse cultures of our globe
  • an awareness of local, community, and global environments
  • moral and ethical modelling that helps students achieve success and safety in online and offline environments
  • experience with many mediums of technology and communication
  • adaptability and creativity
  • life-long learning capability

Now it’s time to explore each tenet in a little more depth, and see how it connects to what teachers do.


Personal Responsibility and the Global Digital Teacher

A teacher moves around the classroom directing and facilitating learning. In doing so, they are modelling ethical practice. They’re shaping the moral and ethical mindsets of students by what they do and what they don’t do.

Our students’ time in school is formative and developmental. They are discovering and learning about themselves. They are asking questions, making choices, and breaking mental and physical boundaries. Students are exploring, taking risks and experimenting. We can’t expect that they’ll simply become global digital citizens on their own.


They need observation, encouragement, and supervision. This is the personal responsibility we practice, and that they experience firsthand.

What about responding to questionable behaviour? This isn’t something we can approach from emotion. We must be fair, even- handed and understanding. We must be able to turn such situations into learning and growth opportunities, both for ourselves and our students. The Global Digital Teacher values tolerance and mindful action. They demonstrate this in their own classroom practices.

Global Citizenship and the Global Digital Teacher

Teaching is about building relationships. In such a culturally abundant world, Global Citizenship is the business of every teacher. Fostering productive connections with colleagues and students is part of any educator’s success. Schools are home to different personalities, cultures, and beliefs. Sometimes these conflict with each other, and unfortunately this is inevitable. The role of the Global Digital Teacher is to bring understanding and harmony into such situations.

Such strategies include those that work to resolve conflict, mediate disputes, and show understanding. Over time, this responsibility shifts to the students. They learn, through their teachers, to be tolerant of difference while standing up for their own beliefs. They respect their rights and the rights of others to feel safe to be who they are. They celebrate the colours of culture, and the interconnectedness of everyone. But it’s the Global Digital Teacher who leads the way in this.


Digital Citizenship and the Global Digital Teacher

Technology is at the forefront of many aspects of teaching and learning. It’s refreshing to see more and more teachers getting on board with its applications. The potential for positive use, though, is still matched by the potential for misuse. Students often emulate those they admire, and that includes teachers.

So If teachers don’t cite sources or respect copyright and intellectual property, we oppose the example we want to set for students. It works the same way if we act inappropriately in any online environments. Its like giving our students a green light to do the exact same thing.


Alongside parents, we are the guides young digital learners have for an exciting and perilous online world. If we’re going to enforce guidelines for ethical behaviour, we must do first by example.

Altruistic Service and the Global Digital Teacher

Many educators believe that teaching compassion and service are the key to higher student engagement. But the hectic nature of the educational field can make compassion and altruism a challenge sometimes. In the article Nothing is More Important Than Teaching Compassion, Vinciane Rycroft wrote:

“With the ups and downs of every day circumstances, it is not easy to stay inspired and be true to our initial motivation as educators. It is tempting to look for professional satisfaction in outside praise, instead of tapping into the genuine wellbeing that comes from being fully present to those around us and to ourselves.”

The Global Digital Teacher must indeed remain present. This is true not only of the needs of students, but to the needs of the school and the community. Thanks to technology, our connections and communications have linked to us to a world in need. So the innovative classroom becomes the perfect learning environment for fostering altruistic thoughts and actions. It begins with caring for each other, and then expands outward.


It’s comforting to know that connection has brought awareness. Kids today are more aware and concerned about the world and about others than ever. The charitable nature of our digital kids comes through in school projects like the ones in these case studies.


Environmental Stewardship and the Global Digital Teacher

We stress in this tenet that we only have “one world to live in.” How we regard its welfare is congruent with what kind of surroundings we want for ourselves and our students. That’s why the Global Digital Teacher demonstrates a healthy respect for the personal, communal, and global environments they and their students are part of.


The educational initiatives being taken for environmental awareness are many. Here are some examples of the work being done in regards to Environmental Stewardship:

  • Green Teacher—a non-profit organization helping educators promote environmental awareness among young people aged 6-19.
  • SEEDS Schools—allows participants to track and report their projects online and to learn what others are doing for environmental projects.
  • Maple Ridge Environmental School Project—a comprehensive environmental education project taking place in Maple Ridge, BC.
  • Green Schools Initiative—founded in 2004 by parent-environmentalists to improve the environmental health and ecological sustainability of schools across the U.S.

Every part of education and its virtues—respect, tolerance, understanding, accountability, responsibility, fairness, and justice—are central to what makes this educator so incredibly important to our students. Teaching is no longer about subject and knowledge. It is about developing the whole student, and preparing them well for a future they will both create and sustain.


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