In honor of my fantastic time visiting with my Globe Teacher friends, I’m going to post my thank you to the ESU for giving me the scholarship that took me to the Globe theater last summer:
First and foremost, I cannot thank the English Speaking Union enough for the amazing opportunity you awarded me. This was by far the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done. I’ve never been out of the country and I’ve never been away from my family and friends for this long. Also, have I mentioned I’m terrified of flying? This was so far out of my comfort zone, no amount of preparation would help me. I knew, however, that it would give me so many new strategies for my classroom and I wanted to become a better teacher. What I wasn’t prepared for was becoming a better student, as well as teacher, along with learning more about myself as a person.
Learning at The Globe allowed me to become a student again. I will admit that I am not a shy person but during the first few days I didn’t know what qualified me to be amongst such amazing people. We jumped right into the deep end of the pool and we were working with Shakespeare’s words immediately. I could see how the strategies would make my students reach farther than their comfort zones and learn more in the act of interaction with other students. The most memorable first impression I have of The Globe experience is one of our teachers explaining that some of the methods we were going to be taught would work for us, and some wouldn’t; we were encouraged to mix and match and mold them to what worked for us and our students but to not be afraid to try. One of my biggest fears is failure and this woman literally sat in front of us on the first day and said, “It’s okay to fail, just fail better the next time.” Another teacher implored us to “Fail Magnificiently.” In an educational world filled with quick-fixes and mandated teaching techniques, it was refreshing to hear a practitioner say that not everything works for every teacher and to adapt their techniques to our own teaching styles. It really helped us all realize that, even as teachers, we are constantly learning what works best for us and for each group of students.
I also believe that this experience made me a better teacher in more ways than I was prepared for. Kristina and I were lucky enough to travel to Paris and Brussels with a long layover in Copenhagen before our stay in London. What an incredible opportunity! In Paris and Brussels we took several tours and about a billion photos (oh! And the crepes!). I will tell you that I think that it was one of the most important extra learning experiences I had in addition to learning at The Globe. I teach many English Language Learners and, while I am certified to teach them, I had no idea how they felt in my class until we took a chocolate tour in Brussels and had to make our way around in Paris. The chocolate tour involved a demonstration that was all in French. I don’t know any French. The demonstrator tried to explain some things in English and did a good deal of gesturing but I still don’t know how to make truffles. I sat down that evening with a better respect for all of my English Language Learners that have sat in my classroom.
On the first day of classes, one of the Globe teachers applauded us for taking this time for ourselves to grow as individuals. We grinned at the kind words but continuously remarked on each new strategy how we were going to use it in our classrooms. These people truly wanted to be here and wanted to make themselves better for their students. And now, I am not only blessed with the memories and gifts of classroom strategy, but also the constant communication that the internet has afforded our motley crew of educators has become a great comfort and aid even only in these the first few weeks of the school year. We have been able to compare our uses of our new strategies as well as build upon ideas that arise anew from our attempts to become better teachers. I was also triply blessed by being allowed to make this venture with James and Kristina. They were a great comfort and it was awesome to learn from them as well as to be able to lean on them. I thought it was wonderful that we were all able to go out and have different experiences and then come back some evenings and catch up with our little Orlando family. I know that we will be able to continue our growing together in the future and are lucky to be so close in distance to be able to do so regularly.
During one of our days at the Globe, we were allowed to watch a “Lively Action” class given to middle school age students who were visiting The Globe that day. This allowed me to see how the strategies we were being taught flowed and succeeded with the students that I would soon bring them back to. I was able to watch a group of 13 year olds process the entire plot of MacBeth in 45 minutes. It was amazing. I’ve learned about how to scaffold a lesson since day one of my undergraduate degree. The pieces and parts to each lesson added up to an overall understanding of the Shakespeare work at hand. The Globe, however, has not only mastered the art of scaffolding a lesson, but I didn’t even realize it was happening! I was learning right along with the students!
This whole experience not only taught me to be a better teacher, but also allowed me to learn a lot about myself. I learned I am far too dependent upon my phone to answer my questions. I learned in our voice lessons some great techniques that I didn’t even realize could help me as well as my students and debate team. I also was reminded that teaching is a group effort. It takes a village to raise a child and I had often tried to do everything myself. I also learned that failure is not something to be afraid of but something to learn from and grow as a person. As I begin to use these new strategies and grow as a teacher, I hope to make both The Globe and the English Speaking Union proud.