I love to travel. I know, who doesn’t, right? Although travel is fun, it is also beneficial to my teaching practice. Each trip is an investment in my professional development. It’s like a field trip, adding real life experiences to former knowledge to deepen understanding.
Today I will share why travel is important for art teachers along with some tips to help you make it happen.
Our world is getting smaller. There are many serious global problems requiring worldwide cooperation to find effective solutions. It is more important than ever to gain an understanding of cultures outside our own. There is no better way to achieve this than through travel.
Remember, you bring it all back to your classroom and your students. They will become responsible for caring for our world and solving these complex problems. Teachers like Lessia B. know this firsthand. She says, “Kids love stories. When I can illustrate how our culture is not the only culture from experience and often, with humor, they become more worldly themselves. They begin to get that it’s not just all about ‘us.'”
However, international travel is expensive. In many cases, prohibitively so, especially on a teacher’s budget. But don’t fear! There are ways teachers can lessen the blow to their wallets.
Below are 5 organizations that offer travel programs, information, and grants to teachers.
- Institute of International Education
This is a non-profit organization with a mission to increase international education. They manage several programs for teachers, including the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching and the Toyota International Teacher Program.
- Fund for Teachers
This organization funds teacher travel and sends teacher fellows all over the world each summer.
- Education First Tours
This company organizes tours around the world for teachers and students. Why not organize a group for next summer? Teachers travel free with a minimum of six students. They also organize professional development tours for teachers. I went to China with them in 2013 and learned a great deal.
- Educators Love to Travel
This Facebook group is a wonderful way to connect with other teachers who have an interest in travel. Here you can find all sorts of opportunities for teacher travel. It is not specific to art teachers, but the page administrator is an art educator, so much of the content is art-related.
- Teach Overseas
Why not teach abroad? This is a great way to really experience a culture and get paid at the same time! The State Department maintains this page about international teaching opportunities. It includes helpful information and links to a variety of different companies who hire teachers to work overseas.
Remember, you don’t have to go far.
Although international travel is great, it’s good to check out your own backyard, too. I recently visited my state’s capital, which is not far from my home. I had never visited before, and I left wondering why I hadn’t gone sooner. It was so interesting, and I learned so much. The next week, I was able to share what I learned with my students as we started an architecture unit. There are gems like this everywhere, and you may not need to drive far to get to them. I bet you’re thinking of places you can visit right now. Why not take a road trip this summer to explore?
Knowledge gained about a place and a culture when you travel is unique. You will be able to share your story with your students, instead of just the facts. Sarah Mays, the creator of the Educators Love to Travel Facebook group puts it this way, “Travel has become an important part of me being an art teacher. Whether touring the Iznik Tile Foundation in Turkey or the Amazon Rainforest in Peru, I have been able to use firsthand knowledge through travel to enhance my curriculum. I believe travel has allowed me to become a better art teacher by bringing authentic, relevant and exciting experiences to my students, which helps them begin to understand how they are connected to the world and its people. ”
In short, kids love to learn from teachers who are passionate and have something special to share. So pack a bag and get out there!
Do you have a story about how travel has enriched your teaching?
Why do you think travel is important for teachers?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.