When I was applying to colleges over 5 years ago (holy cow, when did that happen?!), one of the things I was looking for was to study abroad. I went to Indiana University for a tour of the campus and a meeting with the School of Education, and I was told about the Global Gateways program. Unlike other study abroad programs where you take classes in a university abroad, they explained that I would be placed in an elementary school in another country during the second half of my student teaching. They offer 19 different countries to choose from, and set up places for us to live close to the schools we teach in. I knew immediately this was something I wanted to be a part of.
Fast-forward about two years and I’m sitting in a call out meeting for IU School of Ed students interested in teaching abroad. As I’m walking around the tables covered in pamphlets, souvenirs, and photos from all the countries, I keep coming back to England. Not sure if it’s because of my lifelong desire to be a part of the Royal Family or my love for castles, rain, and tea, but I knew that England was the place I wanted to go. The fact that they speak English and are home to 3/4 of One Direction are nice, little cherries-on-top.
In order to fulfill Indiana teaching license requirements, Global Gateways has us teach 10 weeks in Indiana, followed by 8 weeks of teaching in our foreign country of choice. For my first 10 weeks, I was placed at Thorpe Creek Elementary School in a 4th grade classroom. Originally, I was a bit daunted by teaching an older elementary grade. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with them just like the itty-bitty kiddos I was used to. My mentor teacher was incredible; she gave me support when I was struggling and allowed me to share her classroom as her own. After a semester of setting up classroom routines, getting to know the students, and creating a learning environment for the students, I imagine it’s hard having someone come in and throw off what you’ve so carefully crafted. She welcomed me with open arms, as did the 23 kids of Room 20, and they all pulled me in and made me a part of their class. These kids were loud, dramatic, consistently chatty, slime obsessed, and believed the world revolved around their 10-year-old bubbles. More importantly, they were accepting, knee-slapping funny, creative, loving, inclusive, and passionate about making the world a better place. They constantly told me how great I will be as a teacher and showered me with love, hugs, drawings, yarn bracelets, and random acts of kindness. Not every day was easy, but they made it worth it. They made me feel confident that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Saying goodbye to Room 20 was one of the hardest goodbyes I have had to make, and I miss them with all my heart!
And now we’re here! I am going to be teaching in Downview Primary School in Felpham, England in a Year 5 classroom. I’ve been researching a lot about England’s education system, culture, similarities and differences, and feel as ready as I’ll ever be to take this leap! This blog will be where I throw in some of my experiences, thoughts, and observations about the wonderful place I will call home for 10 weeks. I will be flying away on March 17th and will start my first day of school on March 20th. While I am there, my school will have a two week Easter Break. For the first week of my break, my sister, Katy, will be flying over to join me! We will be traveling around Spain, Switzerland, and Italy! For the second week, my mommy and I will be exploring France and parts of England I haven’t had time to yet (and I get to give my mommy lots of hugs!!). My last day at Downview will be May 26th, and I will make it back home just in time for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 (aka, my welcome home party, and you’re all invited! Buy tickets here!)! I can’t wait to share this experience with all of you! (: