Work Hard, Play Hard
Teaching is one of the most challenging and stressful careers and most teachers finish their school year like they are crawling towards a finish line. We give a lot to our students, schools, and profession. By the start of summer, our tanks are on empty
and we desperately need those 2.5 months to re-center ourselves and get our mind, body, and spirit healthy for the next school year. Some teachers teach summer school to get some extra money to get caught up on expenses or to pay for a project or trip. Some work on projects around the house, take family trips, or just spend more time with their families, in general, because teaching demands so much of your time throughout the school year.
I taught summer school after my first year of teaching but found that the extra money didn’t have as much value as that extra month of vacation time. 4 years ago, I stumbled upon a great way for teachers to spend their summers and it’s become a fixture of my summer plans. I was looking for some teacher travel opportunities and by way of a simple Google search on ‘Teacher Travel’, I landed on amazing non-profit organization called GEEO(Global Exploration for Educators Organization). I’m grateful for discovering GEEO because it’s now provided the framework for my school year and gives me the carrot that I work for throughout the year. The past two years, have been the busiest in my teaching career but even at the most stressful times of the year, I’m able to take solace that my reward is coming in the form of a GEEO teacher travel experience. With GEEO, I can explore different parts of the world, learn about different people, cultures, and history and not only teach my students about Global Digital Citizenship, but I can model it for them.
What is GEEO?
GEEO is a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging and assisting as many teachers as possible to travel abroad and then share their experiences with their students upon their return to the classroom, by way of an action plan they submit before their trip.
Understanding the world today has never been more important to America’s future. For most of us, that understanding begins
at an early age, in thousands of classrooms across the United States. From the cacophony of mid-town Manhattan to the
photo credit: http://www.geeo.orgremoteness of western Montana, students are looking to their teachers for knowledge about a world that is not yet part of their own lived experience. By spending time abroad, forming international relationships and exploring overseas environments, teachers gain fresh perspectives that deeply enrich their students’ learning and global awareness.
GEEO believes encouraging teachers to travel is the best way to equip American youth with the knowledge needed to ensure a strong, positive global role for America in the future.
My Experience with GEEO
I’ve completed 3 GEEO trips and I’m about to begin my 4th. I’m writing this blog post from Beijing, China as I embark on a month-long adventure through this beautiful country, that starts in Beijing and ends in Hong Kong. I’ve been to Costa Rica and explored one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, from their mangroves to the cloud forest. I’ve hiked for 3 days to Machu Picchu and gone dune-buggying in the desert around an oasis in Peru. I’ve travelled throughout Southeast Asia(Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam), exploring Buddhist temples and even taking some cooking classes on how to make Thai food and Pho. My action plans with GEEO have helped super charge lessons on volcanos, ecosystems, ratios & rates, distance formula, and more. I work at a school that has a full kitchen and culinary arts program so with the help of the culinary arts instructor I’m planning on hosting some cooking classes for students and parents as part of our community outreach. I have slides of my GEEO pics as my screensaver for the 2 AppleTV’s that I run in my classroom and my students are exposed to these places and cultures every time they walk through the door. The conversations I have with them about different cultures, places, and foods might be the most valuable things of all. I can see their minds being opened and perspectives widened, as I share my experiences with them. I’ve since heard many of my students express the desire to travel abroad and even hold off on having kids so that they can afford to do so(I live in Tulare County, so that’s a HUGE win for me as a teacher!).
The fact that I’ve travelled with GEEO so much, along with me being heavily involved in Educational Technology and organizations like CUE(Computer Using Educators) led to an invitation to be GEEO’s board of directors, from the founder and executive director, Jesse Weisz.
My Goals as a GEEO Board Member
I’m extremely honored to be a board member of this amazing organization that has given me so much and I want to contribute and add value to it’s growth by taking advantage of my strengths as a connected educator.
My main goal as a board member is to setup a GEEO YouTube channel where
I can share my ed tech expertise on thing such as:
- Setting up travel blogs for their friends, families, and students view.
- Create a GEEO Creative Commons licensed photo page, through Google Photos or Flickr, so GEEO travelers can upload trip photos to be used by teachers and students around the world and re-enforcing Digital Citizenship copyright elements.
- Google Hangout basics so teachers can possibly do a GHO during their GEEO trip.
- Create a playlist of Creative Commons licensed Green Screen Background Loops for
students to use in Video Projects.
- More info on Global Digital Citizenship and how to incorporate the elements into your
- How to connect classrooms around the world, whether it’s through a Google’s
Connected Classrooms, Mystery Skypes, Mystery Google Hangouts, or setting up
global penpals via ePals.com
- Plugging GEEO teachers into twitter, the best PLN they will ever need!
Model Global Digital Citizenship
I’m grateful to GEEO for expanding me and my students vision of what the world is. GEEO partners with G Adventures and models sustainable tourism by investing in impoverished areas of the countries you visit and that provide the homestay opportunities throughout the trip.
I love leveraging technology to bring the world into my classroom but GEEO takes it a step further and makes it more real for my students. When their teacher is the one who’s traveling and in the pictures and videos, it makes that realer and more attainable for them. Traveling with GEEO has been a little scary, but new, exciting, and totally worthwhile. The trips and those ideas are a microcosm of what I want my classroom to be.
Grow your PLN & Get inspired/recharged
I’ve just gotten back from breakfast, where I met with Courtney, a teacher in the Bay Area, who has written a Funds For Teachers grant to pay for this trip. We agreed to rent some bikes and tour Beijing for the day to visit a few sites. I’ve also promised to get her(and a few others) on twitter by trips’ end and she promised to teach me about meditation and assist me with my FFT application for next summer! I’m beyond stoked about the new amazing educators that I’ll meet on this trip, how my PLN will grow, and how I’ll be able to assist some of them in tapping into Twitter as a powerful PLN! This is my recipe for
I’m hoping this post will inspire some of my fellow colleagues to pull the trigger and give GEEO a try. You won’t regret it and your students will ultimately reap the rewards by become better Global Digital Citizens because their teacher has done a great job of modeling it. 😉