Sunday, February 21, 2016

Reflections on TGC Global Education Symposium

"The first day or so we all pointed to our countries. The third or fourth day we were pointing to our continents. By the fifth day, we were aware of only one Earth." 
Saudi Astronaut Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud on looking down on earth from space

This quote was shared by Homa Sabet Tavangar during her powerful presentation on our final day at the Teacher for Global Classrooms Global Education Symposium in Washington, DC.  I start my reflection with this quote as it perfectly and succinctly states the reason we all came together this past weekend; to promote Global Citizenship in our classrooms in hopes of creating a generation of learners who no longer see themselves as just residents of their hometown, or citizens of the United Staes, but as contributing members of a 21st century globally connected world where their voices can be heard, and their actions can make a difference. Our main goal is to help students, and anyone else who will listen, realize that we are all citizens of the planet earth, and with the endless possibilities technology has provided us, we can now communicate, collaborate, empathize and take action with people from around the globe. We aim to empower our students by providing them with the necessary skills to not only succeed in the 21st century global economy, but to make this world a better place.

The symposium was even more incredible than I could have imagined. Just being in the same space as like-minded educators in our nation's capital was worth the trip, but IREX provided us with such meaningful experiences, from the opening night "meet and greet," to the inspiration sessions by TGC alum, representatives from the U.S. Department of State, and rock stars of global education (like Homa and many others.) That being said, the absolute highlight of my weekend was bonding with the other teachers who will be traveling with me to the Republic of Georgia. Stephen (a.k.a Stephani), Walt, Renee, Natasha, Meredith, Mario, Linda, Megan, Kira, Priscilla and of course my AWESOME travel partner, Joe, are some of the most passionate, intelligent and FUN educators I have ever had the pleasure to work with! The amazing Claire, who spent almost three years in the Republic of Georgia as a member of the Peace Corps, is our fearless leader, and we couldn't have asked for a more knowledgable guide on this journey.

              Our host teacher in Georgia, Lela                 Some of my new TGC friends      My awesome travel partner, Joe Smith

While we were in DC, Joe and I received numerous emails from our host teacher, Lela, over in Georgia, who is beyond excited for us to arrive (the feeling is mutual!) Joe and I will be presenting to three different organizations in Georgia on the U.S. Education System, as well as our particular schools/districts. We also have the honor of co-teaching with Lela who teaches English to over 175 K-12 students in a beautiful city called Akhaltsikhe, where Joe and I will be "living" for a week. 

The 2016 TGC Fellows!

My head is still spinning from the new knowledge I have acquired this past weekend, and my heart is full with the love and support of my Georgia cohort and host teacher! Another note of thanks to my principal, Mr. Mike Scarano, who came along with me to the symposium, to show his support of global education and me as an educator. Every time I come to him with one of my "crazy ideas" he tells me to go for it. I could not have been a part of this experience without his support, and the support of my forward-thinking superintendent, Dr. William George. 

I am now counting down the days until March 11 when my journey officially begins. I hope you will come along with me...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Come Along on My Journey!

Welcome to my blog, which will detail my journey toward becoming a GLOBAL EDUCATOR! Like most Americans, I am shamefully unaware of many events that occur outside of our own wonderful country. As an educator of eighteen years, I have attempted to teach my students about the world through history (I am a Social Studies teacher,) and have thrown in current events here and there. I have only just recently begun to realize that limiting my students to this content is NOT preparing them to become Global Citizens, something absolutely crucial to their success in this rapidly changing world. In order to truly become Global Citizens, all students today must be proficient in the "Four Global Competencies" which include investigating the world, weighing perspectives, communicating ideas and taking action!

I have learned all about the importance of Global Education through the Teachers for Global Classrooms Program, which I was lucky enough to be accepted into in June, 2015. I screamed out loud when I received this email,

"This year's selection process for this year's Teachers for Global Classrooms Program was highly competitive.  We received over 400 quality applications from all over the United States.  Your application was carefully reviewed and you have been selected as a finalist for the 2015-2016 TGC fellowship.  Congratulations!" 

TGC is a program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by IREX. Our cohort included approximately 80 educators from dozens of states around the country. I felt so honored to be chosen to represent my district, Middletown Township Public Schools, in Monmouth County, New Jersey!

The TGC program requires active participation in an intense 8 week course, which provides fellows with countless resources on Global Education. This course was challenging and time consuming, but worth every minute! I now have a newfound knowledge and respect for Global Education which I have already begun sharing with my 7th grade students and colleagues.

Next week I will be heading to Washington, DC for the Global Education Symposium, where I will finally get to meet all the wonderful people I have already connected with online, who are just as passionate about Global Education as I am! And the biggest news of all is that I will be leaving on March 11 to represent my district and my country in the Republic of Georgia for an immersive 2 week travel experience! I have been researching this fascinating country and cannot wait to connect with my students online (via this blog, Flip Grid, and Google Hangouts,) so they can experience it with me! I will be visiting the beautiful capital city of Tbilisi, as well as spending some time with a partner teacher who will allow me to work with students in his/her classroom!

Want to learn more about the Republic of Georgia? Check out this documentary:

Stay tuned for more updates about my journey and follow me on Twitter @fabhistory!