Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Getting off the ground

Belaying a friend on a route called Positive Thinking
I've often stood at the base of a climb and looked up. Sometimes I am face to face with an old acquaintance that I know well- a route I've done before- and I can't wait to start climbing. Other times I'm looking at something completely new that I've never climbed before. From the base I do my best to scope out the route, figuring out which path I'll take to ensure the best combination of protection, speed, and fun. Some might argue that the best course of action is never to leave the ground, but ever since I started climbing I've never been able to leave it alone.


I feel much the same way starting the journey that this blog will document. In fact, I would say that I started this process more than a year ago when I put together my application for the Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teacher (DAT) program. Simply writing the application was a valuable reflection process on its own, and I finally feel like I'm finally close to actually getting started. I've been preparing material, practicing my Spanish, and corresponding with a physics professor in Argentina in an effort to make my arrival as smooth as possible. I've learned a lot about both the educational system and life in general in Argentina. I'll be living in San Luis, which is a city of about 150,000 roughly due west of Buenos Aires. I'll be studying at the Universidad Nacional de San Luis. I'll be headed down alone, and once things are settled my wife Lynn and our infant son Grant will join me.

Now that things are starting to take shape, it's time to figure out what my goals are for this experience. I'm going to be busy: auditing graduate courses, visiting schools, working with teachers and students, but one of the things that I can start working on now is a research project that I proposed during my original application. I need to narrow its scope so that I can finish it in the time allotted. The questions I've been asking myself lately are along the lines of:
-What am I interested in?
-What can I investigate that will help both the students in San Luis and in Saranac Lake?
-What would be the most useful in terms of improving my own teaching and that of local teachers?
-What can I measure and what is the best way to gather data?

As I ponder these questions I've also been drawn in deeper- if there were no obstacles, what would my teaching look like? I'm hoping to solidify some of these ideas and conduct a trial run before I depart.