Fall is back-to-school time and, with classrooms in full swing, the time is always perfect to mention that learning is a lifelong opportunity. Where would we be without wonderful teachers in our lives?
So, in honor of World Teachers’ Day, Road Scholar is celebrating educators who are themselves lifelong learners.
Longtime teachers and friends Brenda Shea and Beth Englund of St. Paul, Minnesota, bring much more than lesson plans and textbooks to the classroom. The two friends recently visited Boston on a Road Scholar learning adventure to dig into U.S. history in the heart of the American Revolution.
Thanks to an enrichment grant offered in their school district that affords educators the opportunity to enrich their personal lives and to bring that enrichment back into the classroom, Brenda and Beth were able to enroll in a six-day learning adventure in Boston.
The program’s educational content provided by local experts aligned well with their state standards for teaching about the constitution for elementary school.
“Using personal knowledge to enrich and augment curriculum for kids makes topics more relatable,” says Brenda who teaches third grade. “We were thrilled to be able to visit Boston in person and to share those experiences with our students.”
“Brenda and I are very curious people and we get really excited about the topics we cover, and this excitement is passed on to the kids!” adds Beth, who teaches second grade.
The Boston learning adventure took them along the Freedom Trail and the site of Paul Revere’s birthplace and home in the city’s historic North End neighborhood, as well as to historic Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts.
Brenda and Beth’s experience in Boston gave them insights into the American Revolution they might not have had otherwise. An excursion to Lexington and Concord during the weeklong program was about 30 minutes from Boston. It made them reflect on how far that journey would have been on horseback more than two hundred years ago, and on the hardships of getting there during that time.
“Simple things can impact you,” Brenda says. “On the way to Lexington and Concord, I noticed a mile marker in someone’s yard and it made an impression on me on how they routed themselves back then. We don’t know what we don’t know until we see it – the marker has been there since the 1700s! There is so much history in this area, from the buildings to something simple like that.”
Coming away from the program, Brenda and Beth were thinking about how to share their new knowledge with their students. “There are so many ways to tie the social studies standards into what we learned,” Beth adds. “We got tidbits of information – like the fact that parts of Boston are built on landfill and that it was shaped like a bottleneck with only one way to get out. We visited Paul Revere’s home. There is so much that you see in person and won’t get in a textbook.”
This school year, Brenda and Beth plan to present information gleaned from their travels to the entire school.
On the last day in Boston, a historical actor portrayed Deborah Sampson – who dressed as a male soldier and fought in the war. Brenda says of the reenactment, “This was particularly interesting because it’s an example of how we want to diversify what we present to the students to include more than just well-known figures who contributed to U.S. history.”
But this wasn’t the first time they used their travel experience to enrich their classrooms. Last year, they attended a migration program in California and tied it into science standards and presented to more than 700 students. The experience was a firsthand look at migrating monarch butterflies, elephant seals in San Simeon and birds and whales along California’s Central Coast.
One highlight of the experiences for Brenda was the people that they meet on Road Scholar programs, “The people are fascinating. They are curious, insightful, and thoughtful, and we all learn from each other.”
Were there any teachers that had a particularly important impact on your life? What did they teach you? Do you think that we should do more, as a society, to celebrate teachers? Let’s have a chat!
Learn more about Road Scholar’s learning adventures at www.roadscholar.org.
This article was sponsored by our friends at Road Scholar.
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