These letters are part of (hopefully) a ten-step series speaking to the development of #Worldchangers in education, and how to affect significant change in global education.
Note: Here I am sharing my letter to Becca's parents, their letter to me (which took place first actually), and finally my thoughts. The purpose of Becca's visit was to gather research for her university thesis, comparing American and British approaches of education. "Preservice teachers need to witness effective collaborative relationships between teachers before they enter the classroom" (Michael & Miller, 2011). For future work-force educators, I believe that synergetic experience and connection is a crucial element in which to observe and engage. Accordingly, it was our pleasure to arrange and model opportunities for this pre-service teacher to observe classroom lessons as well as collaboration among education stakeholders. Enjoy the post!
As you know from Marialice (@mbfxc) and from researching our website and our activities of the past six years, Jennifer (@JenWilliamsEdu) and I are passionate about changing the field of education so that teachers and students will experience classrooms designed for human creativity, innovation, and collaboration. Between the wonderful school experiences Becca saw in many of our friends' classrooms, and in our conversations with her, we also feel that she understands how learning can be transformational, and especially when facilitated by an inspired educator, such as herself in the near future. Her attitude, independence, manner of speaking/teaching, and "grit" in order to come visit us here in America all demonstrate that she truly is a global citizen, life-long-learner and future-amazing-teacher! We view her as a success-story-in-the-making, and will continue to support her in her educational endeavors. It was amazing to see her interact with our boys, as she is so patient, fun-loving, funny, and sweet. Every day and every activity was so much fun! She blended in perfectly, and her smile and easy-going demeanor made it so easy for her to connect and shadow the various teachers we introduced to her. When we had our online Edcamp meeting, as well as with Nik Chatzopoulos (@chatzopoulosn), Becca just jumped right into the work part, and put forth such outstanding effort. One could see she cared about her tasks, and could easily observe her can-do attitude; it was refreshing!
I just wanted to drop you a note on behalf of Alison and I to thank you so much for looking after our No.1 special daughter over the last 2 weeks, you went far and beyond anything I would have ever expected
I am sure Becca will have told you whilst she was with you that over the past few months she has become more and more disillusioned with her teaching degree here in the UK, having begun 3 years ago with a fire and determination which has slowly diminished this year as she has come to the realisation that degrees are hard to achieve and require hard work, application as well as dedication to that work, determination alone is simply not enough.
I have to tell you when I picked her up from the airport on Friday she was a completely different person to the girl who left England 2 weeks before on the verge of giving up, she had a renewed spark, energy and maturity the like of which I had not seen in her, ever.
I want to thank you and Jennifer so much for taking Becca under your wing, your guidance, mentoring and friendship has shown her a different style of teaching, a new, more tangible way of learning that she connects with outside of pages of essays, analysis and theory.
Becca knows she has to finish her degree and attain the best grade she can which she feels will open the door to her longer term ambition of teaching in the US via a Montessori application of practical learning and theory.
Above all, you have given her the belief back that I thought she had lost. It has been her life’s ambition to become a teacher, ever since she was old enough to tell her 2 little brother what to do !
I cannot tell you have grateful both myself and Alison are for what you have done for our daughter, you connected, you created and you inspired.
All the best and a very personal thank you from both of us,
Dave & Ali Shepherd
In the hope of evangelizing global education as well as leveraging connections-based learning approaches, one must be creative and learn to take risks. Challenges such as time, money, and effort play a part, but do not necessarily serve as the clincher to end possibilities of international travel. The first educational "hat I wore" was that of Spanish teacher. In that role, I attempted to prepare students for school and work-life beyond the classroom. I practiced conversational speaking and writing exercises with them, found international partners with which they could practice language, and even organized and led student-travel programs. Frequently, I tried to teach students how to be resilient LEARNERS, who were adaptable to situations, conversations, countries, and people they might encounter in their lives. I always drew upon my own experiences from spending summers with family in Sevilla, my own study abroad program in Salamanca, my internship opportunities in Washington, DC, my volunteering stint in Costa Rica, and more. Most recently, I aligned myself with an international ed-tech company whose team members live in different areas of India, Spain, and the United States. Teamwork, resiliency, and flexibility all become integral skills to possess in order to operate on tasks. There has always been a level of risk, as team members have never met each other in person before. Nonetheless, taking a gamble can prove to be fruitful and rewarding, as well as equate to future typical business practices.
There will be many times in life when we are confronted with unfamiliar and sometimes overwhelming exploits. However, if we can provide encouragement to fellow adventurous educators and students, perhaps, just like me, they will forever be life-long learners. Again, may it be altruism or venturousness, perhaps, in order to be a world-changer, step one is first to "pay it forward" and be a risk-taker!