Window of Opportunity: New Zealand/Aotearoa Study Tour 2018

Ijumaa talking with a group of children at the Window of Opportunity.

A Window of Opportunity

The multi-talented, Jeanne Hunt took the above photo during the 2014 New Zealand/Aotearoa Study Tour. It’s hard to make out but there is a sign above the window where the children are that reads “A Window of Opportunity”. The picture captures a special moment of me taking the opportunity to talk with this group of children. They were very curious about why I would come all the way from America to see them and their school.

Here’s some of what I shared with them.
1. I like to visit new places and I hadn’t been to New Zealand before.
2. Many of my friends are on this trip. It’s fun to go places with your friends and make new friends.
3. I enjoy finding out how teachers and children learn about their cultures.

The children seemed satisfied with my response and shared what they like to do with their friends, how they would like to fly on an airplane and visit children in the United States, and what they know living in New Zealand.

Chatting with the children was a special experience, because I still reflect on how the children initiated the conversation and had full confidence that I would take their words and ideas seriously. I was expected to actively engage in the daily life of the program, instead of being a passive observer. The experience moved me to support the educators and leaders that I work with to create social/emotional and physical environments that have many “windows of opportunity” for children and adults to play, think, talk, or just be together. Ensuring this advances the field of early education into the child-centered, co-constructed learning environments we promote.

Reflections

Reflecting back I realized that the entire study tour experience was a window of opportunity to grow personally and professionally. This type of professional development allowed me to start considering what the benefits of early education is from a cross-cultural perspective. In addition to opening up to new ideas about bi-cultural curriculum frameworks, influences of restorative justice on early education, and the value of Learning Stories as an assessment tool.

The privilege of travel

While I did learn and grow from this experience. I also recognize that participating in a study tour outside of the United States is a social and economic privilege. In my case my ability to cover cost were made possible by a registration fee scholarship, sharing rooming costs, and working a short-term job to raise the rest of the travel fees. The study tour was worth the extra effort and expense and I hope to help other educators raise funds for this type of transformative professional development experience.

What’s your experience?

Have you done a study tour professional development either locally or abroad? What did you learn about yourself and early education? What inspiration did you gain that you implemented in your practice?

I’ll be returning to New Zealand/Aotearoa March 18 -25, 2018 to co-lead the ‘Inspire’ Professional Learning for Teachers Study Tour with Eliana Ellis.

For more information visit http://hilltopcc.com/institute/nzstudytour/

or email elianaelias@comcast.net

I hope you will join us!

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