Pioneer Teachers

Turkish Tea with FriendsI’ve been thinking about American teachers of the past, who traveled for days, by stagecoach, or on horseback, across miles of dusty trails, to fulfill a longing to move to a new place, meet a new community and to teach young children. Over the past two weeks I have likely experienced many similar feelings and adjustments. After arriving in Istanbul on August 12, I have begun to explore my new city, I have met an ever-increasing new community of lovely people and I have started to adjust to a new teaching pedagogy in hopes that I will be able to ensure a lifetime love of learning to my young students. It’s been so completely overwhelming to all of my senses, my head’s been spinning since I got here!

Istanbul is all (and more!) that I remember it to be from my travels here in 2011. I live in the neighborhood of Ulus, in Ortakoy, a beautiful, historically rich environment full of new sights, new tastes and smells, new sounds and new textures. My legs are getting stronger every day from walking up miles of marble stairs and down long, winding, brick roadways. This host country is fascinating beyond belief and I’m guessing the two years of my contract will pass quickly. I fear there won’t be enough time to see it all.

Upon my brisk arrival, and clearance through customs, at the Ataturk Airport at 7:00 pm, I was wisked away to deliver my belongings into my lovely, furnished apartment. After dumping my containers inside the door and having a quick look around, a small group of us set off on an excursion that took us to the edge of the Bosphorus. It was dreamlike. Bouncing lights off the bridge, rushing taxis on the narrow streets, wafting fragrances from street vendors and hearing strange dialects all around me caused a swarming, full force, into my sleep-starved head.

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The quick motion never stopped. I was transported through various experiences, in full sensory overload for days, meeting people of many nations, testing my tongue to this new language, and adopting a new style of teaching art to a group of children outside my experience realm.

I am happy. I’ve been dreaming of this experience for years, never quite understanding how dramatically new and exciting it would be. I had to experience it, and now I’m living it. These are things I’ve already learned that I want to share:

  • Fill your days with happiness.
  • Go so far out of your comfort zone that you have no choice but to become dependent on others.
  • Have an open heart and an open mind to endless possibilities.
  • Consider opinions that are very different from your own and that you previously hadn’t.
  • Listen to people’s stories.
  • Let people help you.
  • Learn to be friends with people very different from you.
  • Learn what people from other countries think of your country.

I’m learning about all these things. Thanks for traveling with me.

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24 thoughts on “Pioneer Teachers

  1. Milu says:

    Hi Anita!

    Stumbled upon your blog (art teach travel) recently. Its beautiful! Every single post!
    Brings a smile on my face to see such an passionate art teacher!

    I am 21 pursuing my BFA in Applied Art (4th year) from College of Art, Delhi, India. Have done my internships in advertising agencies. Been involved with private art tutoring since past 3 years. I see my future completely in art teaching. Your philosophies of teaching really inspire me! I thought you’d be the person to approach for this topic.

    Can you please tell me shortly how to go about it? Whether teaching arts require a B.ED degree? Whats the procedure to teach aborad? Qualifications/Experiences required? and most importantly, how to be a good art teacher?

    The above mentioned information can be truly of great help. Theres so much to learn from you!

    I’d be waiting for your reply eagerly.
    Thanking you

    • Dear Milu,
      Thank you for your compliments to my blog. In most countries, you must be certified to teach art. You can do this getting a BFA, but it will require additional Education coursework and typically you also have to spend a semester student teaching. This is a requirement for most schools. Another route, to accomplish the same thing, is to get a B.ED degree, but I feel that getting a BFA would serve you better, and then also getting your Certificate to teach. With the right coursework you can get certified in secondary art, elementary art, or both (K-12). This is what I have. All age groups are really different from one another. You might volunteer to work with children in different age groups, to see what age you prefer. The best of luck to you!

      • Milu says:

        Thank you so much, Anita!
        Your reply really cleared my doubt. You are truly an inspiration.
        Thanks for your valuable time! Wish you lots of good luck!
        Thanks, again! 🙂

      • You are welcome! All the best to you! Keep reading my blog. You can find out so much information under “Archive”. Read everything that is categorized by “Teach”.

  2. Tuba says:

    Thank you for taking me home and sharing your experience … With love and admiration

    • Hi, Tuba! So glad you found my blog. 🙂 I wish you were here. I keep learning more and more. This is a complex place, so full of history and stories…Much love to you.

  3. Helen Foster James says:

    You are always an inspiration!

    • Dear Helen,
      Thank you so much! Believe me, I’m gathering up ideas for our book! I’m not going to let you off the hook, Helen! 🙂 Maybe about the cats of Istanbul?…and the specific box of kittens in our apartment neighborhood? 🙂 I’ll keep thinking…

      • Helen Foster James says:

        Who knows where your thinking will lead! I’m ready to listen and read when you are ready! Take care!

  4. This is so exciting, Anita!! Your photographs are gorgeous! Did you find any treasures at the clothing market? I especially loved the cat pic. I’m already looking forward to your update. So you’ll meet your students in one week?! T.

    • T!! Thank you for the compliment. Of course I found some treasures! I bought a pair of grey leggings, with lace around the bottom, for about $2.50 USD, and (drumroll . . .) for about $10 USD I bought a pair of purple sultan harem pants that have black elephants all over them. 🙂 Momma Cat is precious. There’s an abundance of homeless cats in Istanbul but this little family is being well cared for here in the bushes of our apartments! 🙂 Yes! My students are coming!!! My room isn’t ready! AAAAahhhhhh! 🙂

  5. Heather says:

    Your bright and beaming! Rest all you can before those little people come (laugh). Hug! You are there!

  6. Patty Fares says:

    Thanks for taking us traveling with you, Anita. And thanks for sharing your list of lessons, starting with “fill your days with happiness.” May your time in Turkey be filled with more lessons like these…you’re a teacher & a student.

  7. route66ball says:

    You are amazing!. Thank you for letting me share your journey.

  8. Jimmie Hudson says:

    You are finally there, having this wonderful adventure you’ve worked so hard to make happen. I couldn’t be happier for you. I have some of your 6th grade girls in 2D3D along with Tiffanie’s twins. We talked about you the first day of class, and Phoebe was quick to tell the class that your school is on the same street as her grandparents’ house! We are already having fun.

    • Jimmie!!! It’s so good to hear from you! It is such an adventure; I could have never imagined how much. Tell all your 7th graders “Hello” and that I love and miss them! I truly do! Miss you too. xo

  9. Lynn says:

    Anita, is this an international school? (Surely so…) Are the children English speakers?

    • Hi, Lynn. Yes. Here is the website: The Pre-K – 12 school is taught in English. It is a private school that is privately owned, however, we share some facilities (sports mostly) with the Turkish National School, which is taught in Turkish and is next door. I understand that we have around 50 nationalities of kids. Some are ESL kids. I will have my students in one week and I’ll let everyone know what it’s like!

  10. Tiff says:

    I love hearing every detail about your experience. Isn’t it wild!?!! Istanbul of all places! Ortakoy!?! Love you dearly!

    • I can’t talk to you right now (read your email) but very soon I want to talk. I can’t spell the names correctly but I’ve been to Babek, Arnoldvatkoy, Bashitas and on a Bosphorus cruise. I’m so you right now!!! ha! (still not as skinny tho…) What a wonderful part of the city!

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