Not only do educators have the BEST clients in the world (our students), we also get paid for being lifetime learners and explorers. When our interest is piqued in new areas, we creatively find ways to include our research in our curriculum. Nothing is more satisfying than to bestow our excitement and enthusiasm to our students and watch their eyes and their hearts light up to new ideas and possibilities!
Teachers are fortunate to be able to travel for longer periods than many working people. When I’ve been able to travel over the summer, for example, I burst into my classroom with new ideas to try out. Travel always causes me to develop new projects. The colors, sounds and tastes of a new place feed my imagination like nothing else. As these last few weeks of summer sizzle down, I want to make you aware of some resources that could help you plan future adventures if you, or someone you know, is a teacher. I’ve found so many travel opportunities for teachers that this article will be divided into two, maybe three, parts. The benefits of traveling and learning are easily transferred to your students. By getting involved in the planet, you and your students will reap many benefits and expand your understand of the world we all share.
Most people have heard of the Fulbright opportunities available but I’m going to focus on lesser known opportunities.
Global Exploration for Educators Organization, or GEEO, is a new discovery of mine that is dynomite! This non-profit organization helps and encourages educators to travel abroad. I fully believe in what their website says, “Students look to their teachers for knowledge about a world that is not yet part of their own lived experience. By spending time abroad teachers gain fresh perspectives that deeply enrich their students’ learning and global awareness.” GEEO trips are open to all Kindergarten to University teachers, school staff, school administrators, and soon-to-be teachers pursuing their teaching certificate. Their programs are also open to retired educators. Participants in their programs are permitted to bring friends or family members on their trip. If you aren’t an educator yourself, then become friends with one because this is an awesome opportunity! GEEO trips are more than reasonably priced and include many meals and accommodations. They use basic, no frills accommodations, so if luxury is what you’re after, this may not be for you. GEEO also offers a book club on Goodreads.com, a Pinterest page and a lesson plan database to use. What an amazing opportunity!
Although limited to Social Studies teachers, the Transatlantic Outreach Program is another amazing opportunity! The goal of TOP is to encourage cross-cultural dialogue and to provide Social Studies educators with a global understanding from an international perspective using Modern Germany as the basis for comparison and contrast. TOP accomplishes this goal in three ways: 1) Production of teaching materials, 2) Distribution of teaching materials through workshops, and 3) All-expenses-paid study tours every summer to Germany. The study tours are two-weeks in length and expose educators to the German education and political systems as well as businesses and culture. Following the tours, educators are required to write a lesson, as well as conduct two workshops. If I taught Social Studies instead of Art, I’d be packing my bags! Are you kidding? All expenses paid to Germany?
Earthwatch Institute offers two amazing opportunities. Their Summer Fellows program sends volunteer educators all over the world to help on scientific field research projects. Selected Educator Fellows spend 1-2 weeks on expeditions and all expenses are covered. As a member of one of these expeditions, fellows will be an active part of data collection and nightly learning sessions. The goal of this fellowship is to prepare educators to return to their and community with a greater understanding and appreciation of the natural world. Earthwatch also offers Live From The Field trips, which may require you to be out of your classroom for 7-10 days, although they try to coordinate the trips to coincide with weekends and school vacations. These educators join Earthwatch research teams during a brief portion of their school year and share their experiences with classrooms at home using blogs containing, photos, videos, and activities. Live video and phone conferencing may also be used to communicate with their schools at scheduled times during their expedition. Generally, all current, in-service K-12 classroom educators in the United States are eligible to apply for both these programs. Applications become available each September so mark your calendars NOW to check back with them!
This is the icing on the cake. Although not available for teachers everywhere, Fund for Teachers provides grants for individual teachers and teams to explore the world. Their generous fellowships have provided approximately 5,000 teachers $17.8 million and have taken place on every continent on the planet. The Fund for Teachers fellowship application becomes available online each October, with an application deadline in January. Awardees are notified in April and fellowships take place during the summer. Here is a map so you can find out if you can partake of this great opportunity. If your area is not included in Fund for Teachers, please use this link on their website to look for other grants and awards to help you fund your travel. With an investment of a little research time you can change your life, and your students’, through travel.
Do you know of any other programs available to educators? If so, please educate me!