Teaching Traveling: Welcome to Laura Alice! Tell us about your background.
Laura Alice: Hello! My name is Laura Alice, and I am a Primary School Teacher from Auckland, New Zealand. I have been full-time teaching since 2013, and have taught in both New Zealand and London, England.
I am currently living in the United Kingdom, traveling and exploring Europe as much as possible… and with this comes The Touring Teacher.
TT: What is The Touring Teacher?
LA: The Touring Teacher is an Online, Educational Web series for Primary Schools. Everywhere that I travel to, a Lesson Video is made. Each Lesson contains history about each place, and a Lesson that is connected to the school curriculum.
All lessons come with the Lesson Plans and Resources, so educators can share these with their learners straight away. For example, I recently went to Budapest, and filmed a Lesson about how the city used to be separate cities, and combined to make one.
The activity that is connected to this is a writing activity, where the learners create their own cities and combine them with another, writing about what makes their cities work together. Educators in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom, are using these Lesson Videos in their classrooms for all areas of their curriculum.
TT: How useful! What inspired you to start TTT? What was the goal in creating it?
LA: The idea came from learning about the Eiffel Tower, and how it expands in the heat. I thought about this being a great science lesson, and how fantastic it could be if my class and I could go on a virtual field trip, to gather some prior knowledge.
With this idea in mind, before my husband (Lars) and I left New Zealand to travel, we decided to gather our passions of Teaching, Filming and Travel, and create The Touring Teacher. Our goal is creating Lesson Videos in each place we visit, for them to be used in Classrooms back in New Zealand, and around the world.
TT: Awesome! How does TTT differ from regular classroom teaching? How do you write a curriculum based on the world?
LA: We have made The Touring Teacher Lessons to be more of a companion in a classroom. The Lessons are based on the New Zealand Curriculum, focusing on the same Achievement Outcomes and using the same systems as when I was in the classroom, such as Success Criteria and Peer and Self Assessment.
For example, I remember teaching a Maths Lesson about 3D shapes. I had done similar lessons before, where you make a net of a cube, and then try and make up your own nets. It wasn’t the most riveting lesson I had done. So, when I was traveling to St. Petersburg, I knew that the buildings of the city had many interesting 3D shapes. In the Lesson Video, I explain 3D shapes, and then we can see them in real life situations.
I was picturing myself during my past 3D shape Lesson, and wished that I had this type of resource then. That way, the students would have had a real reason to make the nets of shapes and it would have made the lesson more relevant and engaging. Our big goal is that the Lesson Videos are integrated into regular lessons, not just as an extra.
TT: Love it. Can you tell us more about your travels?
LA: An exciting place that I visited was a Greek Island called Amorgos. On this island, we were able to live there and become locals for seven weeks. We climbed to the highest point on the island and went swimming with the fishes.
It was incredible to learn all about Greek traditions, and especially eat the traditional foods. One evening, I was pulled into the dance circle, where everyone was dancing the Zorba. It was an exhilarating experience, and a fantastic work out too.
While I was on this island, I was able to film a series all about Greek Mythology. There are six main Lesson Videos and then some Mini Lessons and extra videos to help. Greek Myths are a huge interest of mine, and I know that many Learners want to know and hear about these myths.
TT: Nice! So, how do you find your travel opportunities?
LA: Just like all things, my travel opportunities come to me in many different ways. I have learnt to go with the flow, and see what options come my way. Sometimes a trip is based on wanting to visit something in particular, perhaps to film a Lesson about it, or just to be a tourist.
Other times, I just see what the cheapest flights are. This option is what led me to spend a week in Malta, a place that I had not known much about, but has now become one of my absolute favorite countries!
TT: I’d love to go there someday! Now, tell us one moment from your travels that was particularly powerful.
LA: Just recently, I spent three weeks in a Ski town called Spindleruv Mlyn, in The Czech Republic. I was living at the very top of a mountain, the only way home was to catch the chair lift to the very top, and then walk one kilometer to the lodge. If I wasn’t back at the chairlift by 4pm, I would have to walk up the mountain.
It was an incredible experience, living above the clouds. I had skied before, but when you have to ski down the mountain to get breakfast, you have to really work at it, or you will go hungry!
TT: Yes! So, how have your travels impacted you in your career, and how have your travels impacted you as a person?
LA: Every new place I visit, I feel like I come home a different person. The more I learn about the world, the more it inspires me. In my classrooms, I would always make sure that the students in my classes knew about more than where they lived.
At times, lessons and activities were based around where I have been or where I was going. My students always knew that I travelled, and it made lessons more relevant for them. Now, with The Touring Teacher, My students can come with me on all my adventures!
TT: They do! What advice do you have for teachers who are dreaming of travel, or travelers dreaming of teaching?
LA: My advice is to make it happen! Traveling makes you learn so much about yourself, as well as the world around you. You meet the most amazing people, and they add something to your life; either big or small. You get to see and learn things about other cultures, their history, traditions, or just everyday behaviors.
Traveling is what I want to do, and with The Touring Teacher, I can travel and teach at the same time. Everything I learn from a new place can be shared with learners around the world.
If you would like to bring the world into your classroom, then head to TheTouringTeacher.com
TT: Thanks so much, Laura Alice! Readers, what questions or comments do you have?
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English from Boston who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Teaching Traveling in 2010 to share expert global education resources, and over 1.6 million readers have visited over the past decade. Lillie also runs Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog, and DrawingsOf.com for educational cartoons. Do stay in touch via subscribing to her monthly newsletter, and following @WorldLillie on social media!