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How Travel has Shaped me as a Teacher

Heather is a Primary Teacher from Canada who is currently working in London through Protocol Education. Here she explains how the challenges she has faced while travelling the world have influenced her style of teaching and her students - for the better!

What a great feeling it is to have your motivation added to by what you do for a living! While originally it was my drive to travel that got me looking into education as a career (and indeed teaching itself is often fuel for inspiring the desire to travel) I often find my practices enhanced because of the challenges I have experienced while teaching abroad.

Recently, I went away with a Year 6 class to assist them in achieving what most of them hadn’t fathomed would happen in their lifetimes when faced with school rules, SATs and  household requirements.  They were challenged to abseil down steep, veering walls under the gaze of their fellow classmates and without the physical support of their parents.

Like those Year 6’s I often find myself out of my comfort zone when I travel – especially since most of the time I’m solo when I fly the nest to explore. Of course, I didn't intentionally make the choice to be alone when I took on the world but I couldn’t just wait around for ‘the one’ or friends with similar budgets and time constraints to accompany me. I was eager to leave my homeland and explore what books could only describe with words and pictures.

I recall being genuinely stressed about the 3 week trip I’d planned across South East Asia ALONE. My parents had attempted to bribe me not to go and to travel back to Canada for Christmas instead. I’d be lying if said this wasn’t tempting (and even more so when they offered to contribute financially to an organized tour!). Nevertheless, my plane had been booked and I swallowed back my tears to reassure them. If didn’t go now I wouldn’t ever do so.

Looking back, I am so glad I took those steps to push myself,  throwing myself into the ravine in a way that forced me to learn the ways of the world on my own. I now look at my travel experiences as an investment into who I am and in the kids I interact with each day. I share stories that can reverse the negative attitudes around learning a second language and trigger an interest in religions that may conflict with current beliefs.

The hidden curriculum has become a lot more prevalent in my practices as I am constantly shifting my own world perspectives and reaching for the most open minded contexts to share with my students. As a result, I see my students approach world issues with like-minded empathy which promotes a much more positive discussion!

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Tags: Heather, Canadian-trained Teacher, Primary Teacher, Teaching in London, Travel, Protocol Education

Category: Australian Teachers

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