Fulbright and Beyond
Because I’m a teacher, I speak in front of an audience almost every day. Sometimes when we are doing simulations in class, I pretend I am holding a microphone by speaking into a dry erase marker. I don’t generally get nervous presenting in front of my students.
Friday was not just any day. After presenting for my Teachers for Global Classrooms (TGC) cohort back in October, I was invited back to Washington D.C. to co-facilitate a workshop for alumni of the Distinguished Fulbright Awards in Teaching Program. I was honored to co-present with Julia de la Torre, Executive Director of Primary Source, on the topic of Using Technology and Social Media for Global Education.
Wow. I was in the company of exceptional global educators. In addition to my fabulous co-facilitator, the teachers who have completed this phenomenal Fulbright program are truly exceptional. They spent 3-6 months living abroad and completing amazing research projects. I heard story after story of teachers who go above and beyond to give their students beautiful opportunities to make deep meaningful connections, both locally and internationally. These teachers are thinkers, academics, activists, and nurturers. They redefine what is possible while doing the same thing that thousands of other teachers do… but finding ways to regularly push the envelope every day. Needless to say, I wondered if I had enough to offer this talented and accomplished group of educators.
In the end, I followed my own advice, and just told my story. Our workshop was supposed to be focused on using technology and social media for global education, but instead we focused on storytelling as a lens to learn about the other topics. Technological resources are not an end game, but a tool that can be used to accomplish other goals. In this case, we were all in the room because we want classrooms to be more globally connected. We focused on how to leverage technology and social media to do three main things:
- Identify and tell your story
- Transform students into storytellers
- Broaden the impact of your story
It is never hard to tell a story if it’s true and from the heart, and so, here’s mine (some of which I was able to share in the workshop):
Before I participated in the TGC program, I knew that I loved to travel and loved to teach, but I didn’t know exactly how those two passions fit together. I started to realize that, more than anything else, I wanted to find ways to help my students think about themselves as citizens of the globe. I saw videos like this one, and knew that I needed to do things differently:
Over time, I started using technological resources to tell my story, and slowly giving the story away to my students. I experimented with ways to get students clicking on my blog, commenting and giving input, conversing with others around the world, creating their own online content, and connecting the work to real people and experiences.
And then I realized that there’s an international community of educators out there who are doing this work too, like me or better. And so, I started seeking them out. When I didn’t find the conferences I wanted to attend in Boston right away, I sought out professional development opportunities in Providence, Portsmouth, and Philadelphia. I started learning how to connect with educators around the world using Twitter. And I kept writing and trying to bring all of these new ideas into my classroom. Eventually, all of this led to me coming back to DC and sharing this work with others.
This is the beginning of my story. Not only is it fun to share my work with a broader audience, but I learn a lot from the process, and I’m starting to see it as a responsibility that teachers have to each other. I’ve gotten great feedback from other teachers, and I want to find more opportunities to speak about global education. I want to try getting some of my writing published. I hope to be surprised by what opportunities might arise through new connections.
I don’t know who is out there reading this, but I have to send a big word of thanks to the internet of 2013. I am already dazzled by your ability to connect people. I know that you have the capacity to change our reality in all sorts of unimaginable ways. Thank you for taking me to Washington D.C. this week and introducing me to new Fulbright friends. Where will we be going next? I can’t wait for the next part of my global education story to unfold.