Usually tonight the jitters would have hit by now. Normally, I’d check and recheck my first day lesson plan. I would have come home late from work tonight after staying to ensure everything was “just so” – but no.
Not this year.
For the first time in nineteen years, I’m not going to school tomorrow. I won’t be surrounded by students. I won’t be learning new names. I won’t have former students squeal and hug me.
Instead, I’m spending the night before school reading articles about education in another country. I’m searching online for a place to call home for five months in Nottingham, England. I’m dreaming of learning in schools far from home.
While I’m *beyond* excited for this opportunity, tonight I’m pensive. Basically my entire identity revolves around teaching, serving my students, and working toward making the future better for the teens in my care. It is an uneasy feeling not getting ready for work in the morning.
Since I was a child, one of my aspirations was to spend an extended period of time in England. In twenty-one days, I’ll board a plane and fly to begin my Fulbright Distinguished Teacher Fellowship in the U.K. There, I’ll meet college students who are teachers-in-training at a university considered one of the top one-percent in the world. When I go into schools, I will observe educators, lead lessons, and interview students.
This is how I can get through the night and the next few days: My research topic, Connecting and Competing in a Global Economy: Educating First-Generation College and Minority Students, is one close to my heart and life’s mission. I’ve seen on a three-week trip to Germany how that country is working together making education a national priority. This extended trip should give me more ideas moving the United States toward equality in education, along with methods of implementation.
The next few months will surely be exciting and life changing for me, and more importantly, I hope when I return I can work for changes here for our students. ALL children in the United States deserve an education that will prepare them for the future. We can do better.
So while I am pensive, the prevailing feeling is one of hopefulness. Stepping away from the classroom this semester was a difficult decision, but I am sure it is the right one.