It’s been a while since I’ve been around these parts. My children are in middle and high school, and while being a parent defines who I am, privacy needs reign supreme. And so- I begin again.
I am starting the blog again with a new name and a new purpose. I am a teacher of teachers- an associate professor of education. This is not a scholarly blog– merely musings and observations… and wonderment. This blog will explore topics related to teaching– both of adults and children. Which pretty much covers everything….!
This blog begins- appropriately enough- in Greece. Which is pretty much where the concept of formal education began.
School of Athens- Rafael
Family in Athens- Hughes/Lynch/Bailey clan
While this picture was taken last year, I am in Greece this year on a Fulbright Scholarship. And the honor of that absolutely takes my breath away.
Getting to the Beginning:
The Fulbright Scholars Program is a program through the US State Department in which approximately 500-800 scholars from US travel to over 140 countries to “lecture, teach, and conduct research” and to participate in this wonderful exchange of ideas and cultures. Fifty-three Fulbrighters have received a Nobel Prize; 78 have won Pulitzers; and 18 have been heads of state. And several of my friends have been Fulbrighters. And my husband! This is distinguished company.
Getting here has been a five-year process. Five years.
The application is a year-long process. I applied on a whim. To Ireland. I did not know anyone there, but really wanted to go teach in Ireland (still do!) and had what I thought was a good idea. I didn’t know anyone there, but the good folks at NUI Galway had agreed to sponsor me. For the one open award in education for all of Ireland. Applications opened in February and were due in August, 2011. Year 1.
The review is another year; it’s a long process. First the US has to approve the application. Then the host country. I got turned down by Ireland. March, 2012. Year 2.
I sulked. Year 3.
I tried again. I researched the countries and their “calls”. My background is special education and gifted education and this limited the search. I researched the countries and the sponsoring universities. When I saw that Dr. Ioannis Dimakos from the University of Patras, himself a former Fulbright student, was looking to work with someone in learning differences- and that he was an expert in writing strategies, assessment and educational psychology, I thought we might collaborate very well together. I contacted him. We exchanged emails. We met during a family trip to Greece. He was very encouraging. And so I applied again. With a better idea. With a more focused research question. I applied in August, 2014. Year 4.
And… I was placed on a waiting list in March, 2015, in large part due to the economic issues that were gripping Greece at that time. Finally, in June, 2015, I was invited to Greece! I told my college, the College of Coastal Georgia, who were very supportive. I applied for and was granted an educational leave. Many, many thanks to my Dean and the VPAA who supported me and this long-held goal of mine. I delayed my arrival a semester so that we could go through our NCATE accreditation visit. An adjunct was hired. My advisees were taken by my Dean. My colleagues covered for me in administrative tasks and committee work. My telephone was forwarded to our Department Coordinator. They all hugged me really hard.
My husband picked up the driving, washing, feeding duties of parenting and pet ownership. My friends offered to help him out. My mother put aside her activities and comforts of retirement and bravely agreed to go half way around the world with me. My teenaged children pretended that they would hardly notice. They all hugged me really hard. And so I left for Greece in February, 2016. Year 5.
The Beginning of the Work
My project is a mélange of everything I’m interested in and the intersections with Dr. Dimakos. The summary statement reads:
Both Greece and the United States have a deep interest in increasing student performance through teacher feedback and intervention. Through a shared research agenda with Dr. Ionnni Dimakos, an international expert in writing strategies at the University of Patras, I will be looking at how teachers can help students plan and persist in difficult writing tasks through a growth mindset, particularly among children from varied cultural backgrounds and in special education. The teaching aspect of the grant will be teaching seminars at the University of Patras in the areas of strategic instruction, special education and talent development. This project promises to improve the teaching of writing in Greece, the United States, Georgia and in the Golden Isles.
Interestingly enough, (since this was developed two years ago and educational landscapes change), the project is morphing into looking at not only teacher can improve persistence and growth mindsets, but also resilience. Greece is beset with refugees and poverty and stress- and teachers and students are struggling. I’m starting my Fubright attending the conference of the European Council on High Ability (ECHA) that is looking at “Talents in Motion“, and how to identify strengths in a “context of migration and intercultural exchange“. I want to see how teachers can help students develop “portable skills”- in writing, in mindsets, and in their lives. All of these issues are highly pertinent in the US and in southeastern Georgia. I can hardly wait. It’s taken a long time to get to the beginning.