So the program that is taking me "somewhere" is called Teachers for Global Classrooms and is coordinated by IREX (International Research and Exchanges Board). Since I was not blogging about the experiences of this program during the actual eight-week online course I did want to take a brief moment to recap that phase.
The eight-week course was one of immense emotions and thoughts for me both personally and professionally. There were times when I felt some of the homework and expectations were so overwhelming and uncoordinated (the estimate of three hours of homework per week was closer to an eight to nine hour reality most weeks). Regardless of the feelings of frustration I can honestly say that I wouldn't want to change it for anything.
Even if I had gained nothing of value from the lessons other than to once again be in an experience similar to my students it would have been worth it; I find myself trying extra hard to make sure that my written and verbal directions and lesson objectives are clearly communicated. Just because I may think something is clear to my students doesn't always mean that it is...there were times in this program when the facilitators thought something was clear when the reality proved otherwise for myself and/or other the other teachers from around the U.S. who were participating.
The reality, however, is that I did gain so much more than simply what I noted above. I've begun to totally re-evaluate what I do in the classroom. Yes, I have expectations regarding what I teach placed on me by my state's department of education, my district's curriculum director(s), and my local school's administration. However, even within all of that I do have the power to make sure that what my students learn and how they apply it to their lives and their surrounding world is significant and not simply "stuff a curriculum guide demands they know".
Teachers for Global Classrooms seeks to refocus educators and schools into preparing students for issues that matter. I used to think that if my students didn't leave my classroom knowing A, B, and C regarding U.S. History or X, Y, and Z regarding Human Geography that I had failed. Now I see my role as an educator as being something so much more. Today, I want my students to leave my classroom being equipped to: 1) investigate matters of global significance, 2) recognize their own and other people's perspectives, 3) communicate their positions clearly, and 4) take action to leave the world better than they found it.
This is the heart of what global education is and should be! All people throughout this world are connected and as technology and global economic/political forces continue to develop this connection among all people becomes stronger and more important as the key component of education. ALL teachers can use the content of their curriculum as a means to accomplish the four goals noted above (ALL teachers--math teachers, science teacher, language arts teachers, social studies teachers, world language teachers, physical education teachers, visual & performing arts teachers, etc). Use your course's tools and content information to develop students into informed and participatory citizens.
And you know what? Those four goals noted above reiterate that life is a journey! A student equipped as such will find it much easier and more fulfilling "to roam the roads of lands remote."