In case you missed it, I’m starting a new segment titled “Literary Wanderlust” where I plan to inspire your English teacher travels. This month’s ELA PD destinations are brought to you by a very special (and super handsome!) guest blogger, my husband and fellow educator, Aaron Bible. 🙂 Let me know if you apply! I know several of my friends on Instagram have gotten one!
I did it. I got out of my comfort zone and decided to teach a new curriculum. I went from teaching eighth graders United States history to teaching world religions to whole other worldly beings known as seventh graders. The reason for the switch is I felt I had plateaued; I had gone flat, stale, and to be quite honest, I was bored. I needed a challenge.
It took me only a week to realize I had bitten off way more than I could chew and the challenge I had wanted so badly was kicking my backside. Luckily, I married a brilliant woman, who is also a brilliant teacher. Ashley Bible is always striving to improve and knew exactly what I needed. I needed some PD.
She suggested that I look through the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) offerings to see if there was anything that fit my curriculum. Let me just note here that if you are a humanities teacher (history, art, ELA, sociology, etc.), the NEH will have a PD that fits your needs.
I researched the NEH website, and found the perfect program titled “The Religious World’s Institute of NYC.” “NYC?” was my initial thought, and then the doubts and excuses started to roll in. “That’s too far! You will be overwhelmed in a city that big! IT’S TOO DANGEROUS!!!” As all of these hesitations came rolling in, I stacked it against my biggest fear of not being the teacher my students deserved. I needed this. I needed help, and I was betting everything on the NEH.
I applied for three institutes just in case the one in NYC didn’t accept me (I strongly suggest that you do the same- apply for several!), and I have to say that when I received my acceptance letter from the Religious World’s Institute, I was overwhelmed with joy! We would soon be on our way to NYC!
Ashley and I roomed at Union Theological Seminary in Manhattan, which is a part of Columbia University. The campus was just overwhelmingly stunning and the location was right off Fifth Avenue! The best part about the institute that I attended was, well everything, everything was just what I needed.
I learned so much from the director of the program and made lifelong friends with the teachers that attended. We went to all five boroughs and attended services at Buddhist temples, Jewish synagogues, Muslim mosques, and Christian cathedrals. We learned how to teach religion in an empathic way to help our students build a better and more peaceful world.
I left NYC that summer with hundreds of new resources, lesson plans, and strategies to bring back to my classroom. Most of all, when I walked back into my class to face my students, I could look them in the eyes knowing I was about to give them my very best.
It is time for you to travel to places that interest you, enhance your teaching strategies, while also earning ELA PD! Since most of you are ELA or humanities teachers, I want to share some specific ELA PD opportunities here that I think might interest you. There are plenty more on the NEH website so be sure to explore the list! These institutes also come with stipends that will help you offset the cost of travel. I sincerely hope you apply! I promise you that it will make you a better teacher! The deadline for all of these institutes is March 5, 2024.
- Teaching Shakespeare’s Plays Through Scholarship and Performance (Brooklyn, NY)
- Shakespeare: Othello and The Taming of the Shrew in Conversation (Washington, DC)
- The Legacy of Early African-Americans and the Gullah-Geechee People (Savannah, GA)
- From Alabama to New York: How the Great Migration Shaped the Harlem Renaissance (Alabama)
- Friendship and Identity in Literature, Film, and Adolescence (Boston, MA)
I hope I have inspired and encouraged you to take this next step towards becoming a better teacher! These types of opportunities and experiences not only help us to become better educators but the memories and friends you WILL make stay with you for a lifetime. Speaking of new experiences, if ELA travel wanderlust or NEH institutes are not possible for you this summer, be sure to check out Keeping the Wonder: An Educator’s Guide to Magical, Engaging, and Joyful Learning to help you keep bringing the magic for another great school year!