I am not a particularly adventurous person. Sure, I packed up all my stuff ten years ago to move to California, and yes, I do love a good road trip with lots of random stops at hole-in-the-wall places, but I am mostly the kind of person who orders the same thing off the menu every time we go out to dinner. My husband, family, and even my students have my Starbucks order memorized because I've been ordering the same drink since forever.
Conversely, I would consider myself an adventurous professional. When it comes to teaching, I am fascinated by possibilities and I don't hesitate to bring new ideas into my classroom - especially if I think it's what's good for kids. Introducing 20% Time, going mostly paperless, digital storytelling - being adventurous is essential to my effectiveness as an educator. And now, I am honored to take that adventurous professional spirit abroad as the 2014 California Teachers of the Year travel to Japan!
I'll be honest. When I first found out we'd be visiting Japan, I was 98% excited and 2% scared...or maybe 2% excited and 98% scared. (Thanks for that line, Owen Wilson.) So, this immediately became my mantra:
After facilitating a week of professional development on digital storytelling for PSUSD, I hurriedly packed my bags to meet Linda Horist, Michael Hayden, and Tim Smith at LAX to catch our flight. We are grateful to the Japanese Travel Bureau for providing such an amazing opportunity to visit beautiful Japan to meet its students and teachers over the next few days.
The flight was about eleven hours, which provided ample time to catch up on new releases and practice our Japanese phrases - Konnichiwa! Genki desu ka?
Upon arrival, we cashed in Japan Railway vouchers and took a bus to the Sunshine Prince Hotel, where the view was incredible. My first impression of Tokyo is that it is remarkably clean everywhere! Walking down the street, I am actually astounded that we are in a major metropolitan area.
Today, we will visit several schools and meet our home stay families. I am very much looking forward to interacting with Japanese students!
Sayonara! Ki wo tsukete!
Author: Jessica Pack
California Teacher of the Year. CUE Outstanding Educator 2015. DIGICOM Learning Teacher Consultant. 6th Grade Teacher. Passionate about gamification, Minecraft, digital story-telling, and fostering student voices.