At the beginning of the tour, we were asked to consider what effective professional development is, and compare it to the previous professional development opportunities we have had. The professional development I have participated in prior to the tour was often broad and not directed toward my actual teaching in the classroom. With this type of PD, I found myself wondering how I will actually implement my learning within my teaching practice.
In comparison, the information that we have been learning on the France and Flanders tour is in direct relation to the information that I teach in the classroom. We have challenged dominant narratives that we often expect students to memorize and regurgitate. However, rather than replacing these with a new narrative, we have learned how to inspire inquiry in our students so that they may seek out and challenge the many narratives surrounding these conflicts. We have viewed a multitude of perspectives that are often forgotten, including the civilian aspect and the German perspective. We have had the opportunity to hear the personal experiences of many soldiers who fought and died, which we can use to better understand the evidence surrounding various battles and conflicts. Most importantly, we have discussed and sought out the impact that this style of teaching and learning impacts our students in the classroom. As a result, I have built a new repertoire of strategies and resources that I intend to implement in my future classroom.
Furthermore, I have benefitted greatly from having the opportunity to meet the various tour participants who became like a family to me. As a newly graduated teacher, I still have much to learn about leading an effective classroom and teaching in general. However, having the support of the many passionate teachers on this trip has made me feel empowered in what I already know, and what I can seek out to better meet the needs of my students. Each teacher, and student, on the trip provided a perspective and an opinion that allowed for meaningful discussion. I am thankful for the experiences I have had with each and every person on the trip.
- Submitted by Abbi