I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about going half away around the world. My kids are 20+ hours and an ocean away from me. I’m traveling to a place with which I am unfamiliar. And this trip completes almost a month of being away from home. Did I mention the 16-hour flight with me confined to a seat? Yes, there are reasons for concern.
This trip to South Africa is a teaching trip. The paperwork at the end of the day says I am going to teach teachers educational technology. But as a teacher who uses a lot of tech… my heart has to justify traveling so far away from my family with the untouchables… It is never just about the technology.
What kept me coming to South Africa was a multi-fold reasoning. First, my kids. My own students and my children need constant modeling. By extending myself into new experiences, I am modeling growth, development, and lifelong learning. My students will benefit straight away with the connections being made, and perspective gained. My own two kids may not see the fruit of these labors for years, as they are little at the moment. In due time I expect they’ll come to respect my choices to take on challenges and opportunities.
The next reason is for personal growth. Much of my PLN speaks of spending the summer “filling up one’s cup” before returning to work. We expend so much of ourselves while teaching during the school year that our summer time is for learning, growing, sharing, and building up the good stuff – so that in the most difficult moments in the next nine months, we may remain grounded and patient because we have rebuilt our personal foundation during the summer.
I wanted to make the trip to be better as a global citizen. My students, at least some of them, live in a bubble – where the world they know is very sheltered or protected. The level of understanding of what the world has gone through is through an edited textbook or a tourist realm. If I can bring a small glimpse as to the reality of the human story, struggle, and strength back to my classroom then the work to get here was all worth it.
And, at the end of the day, as many of my colleagues from around the world have said, preached, recited, and sang – we are what we share. As a teacher, I am constantly amazed at my PLN. The teachers with whom I have connected and have worked are talented, passionate, caring, and invested in making the world better. They provide me with ideas, inspiration, and support. By going to South Africa, my hope is to provide colleagues, new and old, with anything they might find useful or valuable. Not only do I get to share with South African teachers, but I also want to share the trip itself. My pictures and videos, and stories, all to share. My newly connected classroom relationships to bridge continental divides. I am indebted to many individuals near and far. I stand on the shoulders of giants. We are all #BetterTogether.
I could not have done any of this without a team effort by my husband, family, friends, professional organizations, and sponsors. I feel very blessed and lucky to be going. With this opportunity, it is my goal to share as much as possible before, during, and after the experience.