Through the Eyes of an Educator: Moods, Changes, and Shifts–Oh My!

by Stacey Ebert / Mar 06, 2019 /
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Remember when you were between the ages of 14 and 18? That age bracket isn’t easy for any of us– growth, learning, changes, mood swings, and figuring things out take place–and that’s without adding any extra and guaranteed teenage angst or life obstacles. I taught high school for well over a decade. Those are the humans I know; those are the humans I understand. Perhaps, as adults, we don’t all sit around and reminisce or remember about life in high school or those early teenage years.

Perhaps we’re not solely focused on the inner workings of the teenage psyche, but, at one point, we all lived it. 

How can we share our experience, provide a path, or at least allow this next generation to grow amidst the substantial teenage torment and now the extra ‘bonus’ of growing up in the age of the Internet?

How do we honor the growth and development spectrum while providing an avenue for easier transition or at least, a landing pad for when those giant swings and shifts do occur?

As a member of the tribe of those who work with and interact with the next generation of humans, educators play a huge part in the growth and development process. Whether educators are parents, teachers, advisors, coaches, mentors, bosses, or friends, we all have the ability to make a difference, alter the course and be there to lend an ear or a little bit of lifelong wisdom.

Things we experience in our youth greatly impress upon the adults we later become. Helping to prepare that next generation of thoughtful, kind, active, intelligent, welcoming people definitely does take a village–and travel, nature, and shared experiences are some of the much needed tools to facilitate that intended development.

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Moods, Changes, and Shifts–Oh My!

Travel as a tool to handle changes 

We all know people who travel. Some of those people travel on their own, some with their families, some with their partners, and others with complete strangers. Regardless, travel is one of those categories where change is constant. Perhaps the weather dictates your journey. Perhaps your accommodation doesn’t work out. Perhaps you’re dealt an illness on the road. Adjusting to time zones, language barriers, currencies, and cultures are part of the big adventure. In any traveler’s journey, we come across things that are new, things that are different than they are ‘back home’, things that are outside of our comfort zone, things that are not what we expected, and things that sometimes completely alter or even halt our travels. 

Every day on the road, we experience unexpected moments. It’s not the moments that matter–it’s our response to them that tell the tales, display our true colors, and show who we really are. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Moods, Changes, and Shifts–Oh My!

At some point along the way, most teenagers experience disappointment and excitement, possibility and struggle, difficulty and ease, hard work and laziness, energy and exhaustion, fear and triumph, and countless other emotions. If travel can help lay the groundwork, lessen the sting, add to the exhilaration, and challenge the narrative - why not?

As educators, we use whatever works to motivate our students, to make information relative, and to figure out a way to make the learning quite literally jump off the page. 

Travel does just that! Travel forces us to delve deeper, invites us to uncover layers we never knew we had, and entices us to continue to explore beyond our wildest dreams. Whether you’re 16, 26, or 66, growth is rarely easy. 

Travel reminds us that although there are times of struggle and disappointment, there are also days filled with magic and moments that are worth every effort made.  

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Moods, Changes, and Shifts–Oh My!

Nature as way to challenge moods

Today, doctors are writing scripts for yoga and hikes. Today, clinics are bringing patients outdoors to ‘bathe’ in nature. Today, more and more schools are embracing the healing elements of outdoor education, and forest kindergarten is a thing. Lovers of the outdoors have known for decades that something good happens in nature. Breathing the air, staying present, taking it all in, being surrounded by the elements– there’s a lift, an opening, a shattering, and a change in perspective all at once. Whether your preference is a dry desert, humid rainforest, salty sea, mountain cliff, calm lake, rolling hills, dense forest, or trail of any kind, it happens…and within moments, the mood of the person is challenged and infinitely changed.

As a teenager, we’ve all experienced moods. Although perhaps we first put a name and a face to them as teenagers, those epic swings of emotion continue to happen into adulthood. The reason for them might be different, but the act and effect of the swing, the same. 

What if we can teach our students to embrace nature, to relish the ability to turn inward, to notice the benefits of meditation, and find comfort in the discomfort of stillness? 

Instead of reaching for a vice, a substance, or a food–instead of lashing out, causing harm or withdrawing from the world–perhaps nature can provide that calming landscape, a safe place to experience emotion, and a path that leads the way to finding one’s true self. 

Not only does nature elevate our insight, but the mood we had upon arrival is often unrecognizable from the one in place when we leave.

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Moods, Changes, and Shifts–Oh My!

Shared experiences as a method of understanding shifts

We’re presently living in a world focused on a shared economy. We regularly hear of staying in other people’s homes, surfing couches, and attending group retreats. We tap apps on our phones to read other people’s reviews of places we’d like to eat, cities we’d like to visit, and even doctors whose care we might need to enlist. 

Social media marketing allows a blogger in Melbourne, Australia to interact with a local travel outlet in Toronto, Canada, and for a yoga instructor in Aruba to launch programs that entice guests from Bali to Bolivia. We join book clubs to read together, Facebook groups to chat with like-minded strangers, and seek others with similar experiences to share with, learn from and grow. 

Let’s let our students and children in on the magic of that shared experience–it will undoubtedly help them in the long run!

Attending high school takes place during an impressionable period of growth. There are clubs to join, sports to try, and volunteer opportunities to seize. For those in an alternative setting, there are courses to go to, learning communities to join, and family travel retreats to enrich educational endeavors. Whether it’s youth group or scouts, travel teams or stage productions, cooperative competitions or summer camp, those shared experiences allow us to grow together, give us others to reach out to in times of triumph and struggle, and often create lasting ties that bind. 

Although t-shirts remind us today that ‘adulting is hard’, if we think back a bit, most of us are also willing to admit that being a teenager is hard, too. Along our life’s journey, we will all be met with good days and some not so great ones. Those challenges and triumphs build character, strengthen our focus, and teach us lessons that sometimes take lifetimes to learn. 

At one point or another, each of us will experience moods, changes, and shifts. If travel, nature, and shared experiences can help our teenagers through that undeniable angst and make that ‘adulting’ a little easier, then let’s get out there, find our forest, and share it with the world. 

Adventure is calling…enjoy the journey.

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Moods, Changes, and Shifts–Oh My!

 

Stacey Ebert, our Educational Travels Editor, is a traveler at heart who met her Australian-born husband while on a trip in New Zealand. Stacey was an extracurricular advisor and taught history in a Long Island public high school for over fifteen years, enjoying both the formal and informal educational practices. After a one year 'round the world honeymoon, travel and its many gifts changed her perspective. She has since left the educational world to focus on writing and travel. She is energetic and enthusiastic about long term travel, finding what makes you happy and making the leap. In her spare time she is an event planner, yogi, dark chocolate lover, and spends as much time as possible with her toes in the sand.

Check out her website at thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com for more of her travel musings.

 

 

 

 

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