Saturday, October 19, 2013

The sky's the limit

Austrian sky, 2013
"I teach science to 6th graders. Our project took us to Costa Rica to study its eco-systems. I walked through a rainforest that before I had only read about in books. I climbed a volcano, stood on its edge peering down into its crater, and wept. This experience had expanded my knowledge as a teacher and a learner and provides an intense amount of joy to my students."
"The people in the country I visited were so open, friendly, and generous to me. I was amazed how they lived their lives so deeply with seemingly so little to my American eyes. It has truly caused me to reevaluate my priorities." 
"I should have dreamed bigger with this grant! There is so much out there in the world to learn about and experience that I can bring back to my classroom."
"I teach a class that contains students from the highest of the high ability and the lowest of the low. And yet inexplicably when I relate to them stories from my experiences this summer and show them photos or books that I personally collected during this experience, it draws them together. It levels the playing field in a way that I can't explain. It makes the learning real for them."
"We left for our conference as a team. We came back a family. Our team now collaborates together consistently and intentionally."
All of these statements* I heard today at my post-fellowship meeting for the Fund for Teachers grant that made this whole blog and my summer experience possible. I was so inspired by each of the stories and reflections both personal and professional from each of the educators present at the meeting. My wish is for every teacher at my school to have an opportunity like I had: to imagine a journey and then to be given the resources and support to go on that adventure.

The Fund for Teachers grant was finally a professional development experience that had and continues to have a DEEP impact on my work every single day. I encourage every single K-12 educator out there, who picks up pencils off the hallway floor to save for later, has a scrap paper box for all sheets of paper that have a portion or corner that can possibly be reused, and sees all free sandwiches as good sandwiches, to embrace the gift that is a Fund for Teachers grant.

Conjure up your dream professional development proposal! How about a Latin language immersion experience by the sea? Or would you rather a Science by the Sea cruise? Is there a summer conference you've always wanted to attend? Most likely, you will create a project proposal that will give you growth opportunities that you hadn't even imagined would happen. I could go on and on listing possibilities. The 531 Fund for Teachers fellows from 2013 have 531 great ideas, if you would like to see some.

Begin the application process now. January 30, 2014 is the deadline. Close your eyes. Imagine your learning bliss. The sky's the limit.

Feel free to contact me here through my blog if you have questions. Good luck!

*I paraphrased and recalled these sentiments as best as I could.

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