1st Ever Symposium in D.C.

Greetings from Washington D.C.!  The Teachers for Global Classrooms (TGC) program welcomed all 68 fellows here this past weekend. After months of working collaboratively through an online forum, we finally met in person!  They also invited an administrator from each school, and so my principal, Melissa Kapeckas, joined me at the symposium. Together, we are trying to figure out how to bring this work home to Massachusetts.

It was really exciting to meet everyone, in particular the team of teachers who will be traveling with me to Ukraine.  Our meeting was purposeful. We came together to discuss global education.  We all have different ideas for what that means, but we are all eager to share ideas. We come from many different types of schools in many states.  In the whole program, we represent 32 states, but just in our group, we have teachers from Texas, Idaho, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, West Virginia, Ohio, Rhoda Island, and Massachusetts.  One teacher was telling me that his school has a one-to-one policy with every student getting assigned their own iPad to use for the year.  Another teacher told me that 100% of her students qualify for free or reduced price lunch, and 80% learned English after another language.  Our schools have different strengths and challenges, but we are all part of this program because we want to see our schools grow.  We want to increase global understanding for our students.

One of the activities that we worked on together was writing essential questions for the trip.  I realized that despite the fact that I have traveled abroad many types, I’m usually not purposeful about what I want to learn out of the experience. When I travel, I usually go in with an open mind ready to learn from whatever I experience. While this can be a good model, I think I could get more out of my travel if I am more strategic about what I am trying to learn.  I am still working on drafting my research questions, but I am thinking about focusing on civic education.  I’m interested in learning how schools play a role in helping students feel empowered to make change in their communities.

At the end of the session, we met with Viktoria, a Ukrainian teacher studying in the United States.  She gave us an overview of the education system in Ukraine, and it was a wonderful introduction to what we’ll see when we arrive.  One thing I found particularly interesting was that most Ukranian teachers stay with their students for many years. For instance, she is an advisor to 30 students who she is seeing through middle school, from 5th through 8th grade.  I also learned that the Ukrainian flag’s colors come from sunflowers and sky, as the land is rich for growing crops.

I am staying in Washington D.C. for most of my vacation week, and I look forward to having time to explore our nation’s capital and relax.  This evening, I had Ethiopian food for dinner and worked on a world map jigsaw puzzle with a friend (see below — we’re not done yet!).  There’s a lot of preparations still needed for this trip, but the pieces are starting to fit together.

p.s. A little birdie friend named Loki has also arrived safely in Washington D.C. and will make an appearance on this blog soon enough…

Categories: USA

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