Sunday, April 12, 2009
I am one of many lucky people who are able to enjoy a summer off each year. The teachers I know and work with spend their summers doing a variety of things. Some teach summer school, while others travel. I haven't yet taught summer school, but have participated in two very interesting summer opportunities available to teachers.
The first is a program specifically for Spanish teachers in the United States. Several universities in different parts of Spain offer three week courses through the Ministry of Education in Spain. I attended a program at La Fundación Ortega y Gasset. Our class consisted of about 15 teachers from all over the United States, coming from both public and private schools. Our course actually consisted of five different classes covering grammar, literature, society, history, cinema, music and art. Classes were in the morning and we were free to spend the afternoons however we wanted save for the occasional excursion planned by the program. Since the course was geared towards teachers, a lot of the focus was on interesting ways to teach and practice vocabulary and grammar. This years course is 1500 euros which includes three meals each day, an individual room in a dorm, as well as health insurance for the month of July. The flight to Madrid is not included. For an added fee, participants can receive graduate credits from a couple different universities in the United States. I enjoyed my three weeks in Madrid and met a lot of interesting people, I hope to participate again in the future.
The French Embassy offers a similar program for French teachers in the United States.
Last summer I decided I wanted to spend less time in a classroom and more time traveling. Back to Spain I went as a group leader with The Experiment in International Living (EIL). EIL is a summer study abroad program for high school students. What makes EIL different is that each student participates in a home stay. Home stay families are arranged in small towns across the world, and students stay with them for 1-3 weeks. As a group leader, you can expect to spend between 3-5 weeks with on average 11 teenagers. You have a set itinerary and a company credit card. Before taking off with a group of kids, you head to Vermont for a five day training. At the training you learn loads of ice breakers as well as how to handle any number of mini-dramas that could arise. You also start learning about the students that will be part of your group, and if they have any specific medical or allergy needs you need to keep in mind. I definitely felt well prepared to lead a trip upon leaving the training. My trip was three weeks long and I had a good time. I got to travel to Madrid, Toledo, and Sevilla, Spain for free. My flight, meals, and lodging were included as was all of the excursions that the kids went on as well as transportation between cities. After arriving home and submitting a "Leader Report" at the end of the summer, I received a stipend of $100 per week in Spain. While I recommend this as a summer option to others, I do not see myself as a group leader in the future.
Another option I just discovered recently are Educator travel opportunities. There seem to be many organizations out there that design trips with a teacher's interests and budget in mind. Two that I found interesting are the Educator's Journey through Costa Rican Adventures and a Teacher's Introduction to Cuba Tour.
Some of these might have deadlines that already passed, but due to the economy one never knows if all the spots are filled, so it's worth checking out if something I wrote about caught your eye.
Unfortunately I'm not traveling abroad this year, but instead am headed to San Diego for a week long AP Spanish literature course. I have been asked to teach the class for the first time this fall and am seeking out all opportunities to prepare.
If any teachers reading this have summer suggestions for teachers please comment!