Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Of the many reasons I wanted to teach abroad - including stepping out of my comfort zone, experiencing a new culture, and functioning in another language - was to build my professional resume in a unique and meaningful way. One might argue that being abroad in and of itself pretty much takes care of that single-handedly, and I would not argue, but I've been given the opportunity to go even further.
The Associated of American School in South America (AASSA), one of my schools governing bodies, has partnered with the College of William & Mary on a grant project dealing with teacher evaluations in the international teaching community. The project is being mediated by the very capable and experienced, Dr. James H. Stronge and involves two-person delegations from six different schools throughout South America. These schools include the Escola Americana de Campinas in Campinas, Brazil; Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Lima, Peru; and three schools in Quito, Ecuador, including the host school, Academia Cotopaxi.
Four times this school year, I, along with my principal, will travel to Quito to meet with the other fourteen committee members to design a evaluatory system fro administrators to use that will have an aim at teacher improvement through the use of standards and benchmarks with an emphasis on the nature of international education. One of the main issues that a lot of international schools face is teacher turn-over. It is expected as most schools offer two-year contracts and many teachers eventually plan to move back to the U.S. or Canada eventually. The problem comes when these teachers treat their experience abroad as an extended vacation. Improving themselves as educators is not a top priority; their job is simply a means to have funds with which they will experience the world.
At the 2011 AASSA Conference, being held in Campinas, Brazil, the entire committee will meet one last time to share our finished product with the rest of the AASSA member schools' administrators. This is a huge step forward for international schools both in teacher quality but also establishing a potentially unified document that could potentially travel with teachers who may move on to other international posts. I'm excited and honored to be a part of its inception and looking forward to all that I'm going to learn through this process.
We met for the first time last weekend in Quito and it was an extremely enlightening experience. Hearing about other schools like mine was fascinating and being a part of such and intelligent and diverse group of people was and will be invaluable. I am by far the youngest and most credentially inexperienced person at the table, but I feel that my point of view and opinion still is valued.
I know I was considering leaving a year ago to pursue a master's program but I'm glad I stayed. This experience will give me something most post-graduate degree courses couldn't.
Here are some pictures of the Academia Cotopaxi. We did not have a lot of time to explore Quito this time due to our flight schedule but hopefully next time we will budget some more free time in. When I do, I will write more. All I can say about the city as of right now is that it is cold (like a nice sunny October-in-Minnesota-day).