Micah Nelson, our 2017
IPS Teacher of the Year, offers a peek inside the study abroad program she’s
taking through Butler University this summer. Nelson’s travels began June 20,
2016. Below is an explanation of the trip, in her own words.
This summer, I have the unique opportunity to fulfill a
lifelong goal: to travel with a university-led study abroad program. I am heading
across the pond to the United Kingdom with members of Butler University’s
Experiential Program for Preparing School Principals (EPPSP).
We will spend our time visiting schools in Edinburgh and
London, having meaningful conversations about schools and school systems as a
component of the political climate of each country. We are seeking to
understand how the political, cultural and social context affects the
implementation of education policy, both at home and abroad.
In addition to the UK, our EPPSP cohort has been inquiring
about the educational systems in Finland, Singapore and Ontario, Canada. These
systems have been studied by educators around the world, as they are known for
high student achievement without using standardized testing.
Each system has unique methods of organizing their system of
education, but share some common elements. For instance, each system has a
strong centralized teacher preparation program that insures new teachers are
well-equipped to face the demands of classroom teaching and matched with a
strong mentor. Each system also allows teachers a large amount of autonomy in
curriculum development and student assessment. Teachers in these programs also
report a high job satisfaction rate and rarely leave the profession.
Dr. Jill Jay, director of Butler’s EPPSP program, is heading
up our learning experience.
“What lessons can we learn by visiting schools in both
countries and having solution-oriented conversations with teachers and board
members in each country? We are about to
do just that,” said Dr. Jay. “Butler is proud of providing students with hands-on
experiential learning, and this trip will provide the learning platform for us
to see and experience firsthand what we have been studying.”
I am personally
looking forward to learning so much more about how other countries organize
their systems of education. Education is inherently a political act, so how do
politics in the UK impact their schools? I’m excited to learn how that echoes
or is in contrast with how our schools operate in Indiana. With the current
political climate in Indiana, I believe this is the perfect time to study this.
When I return, I hope to share what I’ve
learned, how this could impact our schools in IPS and all over Indiana and what
teachers need to know to better serve our students.