Connect the Class
It's critical for students to learn about other cultures, countries, and people. Why? Well, the world is becoming smaller, and today's global economy is such that your neighbors aren't just the people next door, and jobs aren't local anymore - they are international. The more that kids learn about the world, the more success they will have in their future - both personal and career. I've found an extraordinary resource for families and classrooms that want to learn more about the world - and have an insider teach it!
Caroline Yoder is an educator who is traveling the world. On her journeys, she shares each place she visits with her website, Connect the Class. Articles range from learning about a place to a list of important words for that culture. Each article is a tightly constructed gem, with a conversational style and an easy to read format (with photos!). Carrie is a natural at connecting with kids and classrooms - this is one site we highly recommend to our Wandering Educators!
We caught up with Carrie in Japan and Guam, and asked her about her site, inspiration, how classes can work with her, and more. Here's what she had to say...
WE: Please tell us about your site, Connect the Class...
CY: Connect the Class is an exciting project that a friend from back home helped to "brain-storm." I have a travel blog that I keep as my husband and I traverse the earth. My friend, someone who works and has worked within the school system for a long time, suggested that my travels could provide some interesting educational opportunities for the students at his school. We talked over a variety of ideas and came up with a blog dedicated to students and particularly entire classrooms of students, offering a window into other cultures for kids who may not get many opportunities to travel.
WE: What inspired you to create this site?
CY: Part of what made me excited to go ahead with this site was a memory of my own education in small-town Ohio. My parents were passionate about travel so I got to travel as a young kid. But this appreciation for travel and other cultures wasn't exactly common in my community, so much of the community embraced life as they always knew it and ideas that hadn't changed in years. Small-town Ohio was not exactly the most open-minded place, in part due to how stationary everyone seemed to be.
I know how important travel was for my ability to ask questions and challenge different ideas. I know that many children don't get travel opportunities, but this should not be a hindrance to their exploration of other cultures and other ways of life.
WE: You're traveling right now - how do you teach while you travel?
CY: At the beginning of our travel, teaching was just something I had to say goodbye to for awhile. At one point we had a whole month to spend in Thailand, so I attempted to tap into a short term teaching gig. Unfortunately, it didn't pan out. But, the teaching day involved in the interview process really reminded me of how much I miss teaching. A month or so later I found a school to volunteer with in Cambodia. I loved the experience. On top of that, I have just begun teaching art lessons via Skype. These art lessons are extremely fun and allow me to tap into not only a passion for teaching, but my passion for artwork as well!
WE: What has been the most challenging aspects of teaching and traveling?
CY: As mentioned already, the teaching gig in Thailand didn't pan out. This was partially on account of how briefly I would be staying in Thailand and partially because of the expenses involved in actually getting to the school each day. Let's be honest, even budget travel is expensive if you try to make it stretch out a long time. Or at least, each expenditure has to be assessed. That's been challenging. I hear of many teaching opportunities but it has to fit just right with my travel schedule as well as with my budget.
WE: What do you teach, while you travel?
CY: While I travel I have had opportunities to teach art and English. These were my focuses in college, so I'm thrilled that things have worked out that way. I also spent an very enjoyable year as a vision therapist back in the states, so I've been keeping my eye out for opportunities to offer on-the-road vision therapy, but as you can imagine, those opportunities don't come along as often.
WE: How can families or classrooms work with you?
CY: The details of how Connect the Class works are still being finalized, but as it stands right now, classrooms are welcome to access the blog for free. If they feel compelled to, or if they want a few extra features offered by Connect the Class (video-chat meetings, lesson plans, etc), they can become a "sponsor" of Connect the Class. Even budget travel costs, so anything a family or classroom decides to give to sponsor me as their cultural consultant is much appreciated. The website is connecttheclass.wordpress.com
WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
CY: Travel is one thing, and "the travel life" is another. This year my husband and I decided to make travel our lifestyle and it has taught us some incredible things. I have no idea how sustainable this lifestyle is or will one day be, but I'm so glad that I took the risk. Yes it's an investment and yes it can be scary, but it is so worthwhile. I recommend that anyone with even an ounce of dissatisfaction with their lives consider what a bit of backpacking can do for them.
For a more complete picture of what it's been like for Drew and I, check out: www.carolinetakesflight.wordpress.com.
WE: I can attest to the ease of working with Carrie - she's our daughter's beloved art teacher! I am sure that many classrooms will utilize the excellent resources on Connect the Class - and connect to the world!