At the beginning of the book detailing the Bridges to Understanding curriculum (how to teach students to develop digital stories) is a page titled "Teacher Preparation Worksheet." Usually I read through things like this but skip the process of actually writing out answers. Today, however, I decided that just maybe it would be a worthwhile exercise to frame my myriad collection of thoughts into succinct sentences that actually make sense outside of my mind. The questions were a great tool for breaking down my specific goals for the class; it's so easy to get carried away with grand schemes and forget to clarify the basics. A few interesting answers:
Q. What are your main learning goals for your students?
A. Develop/improve English, photography, computer, and web skills. Teach the process of identifying, investigating, analyzing, and tackling community problems.
Q. What are the essential questions your students are working with?
A. What problems does our community face? What can we learn from other communities? how can we be a part of the solution?
Q. What excites you most about this project?
. . .
I had to think about this question for a few minutes. It's an interesting word choice, what "excites" you, requiring me to approach the project from a slightly different angle. Yeah, I have all these great ideas and goals and hopes for the project, but what specifically excites me about it? As I thought about the question I realized that what excites me has changed over the past several months. My current answer is two-fold, the first part has returned to my initial excitement and the second part reflects the most recent developments at RDF.
Q. What excites me most about this project?
A. 1) Providing students the opportunity for interaction with the global community. 2) Building solid skills to support the Social Awareness Program.
When I first made the connection between our RDF empowerment project and Bridges, it was the global community aspect that most excited me. Since then, however, I'd lost track of that focus, I suppose from being so wrapped up in India and somewhat ignoring the rest of the world. In the past few days I have also been questioning the true benefit of my presence here. If the RDF teachers are already implementing such a great social awareness program and empowering the students to become active leaders in their community, working toward positive change, then what is my role? I know that my work with the students will be beneficial, but couldn't put my finger on what exactly I am providing that the RDF staff can't provide themselves? As I answered this last question on the Teacher Preparation Worksheet I consequently answered this other question that had quietly been nagging me.
Through the Bridges program I can connect my class of RDF students with the rest of the world, empower them to recognise themselves as global citizens, encourage them to interact with students in other parts of the world and realise that they are not alone with the community problems that they face, give them the opportunity to work toward solutions to local problems on a global scale. The RDF Social Awareness Program illuminates local issues while our Youth Empowerment Program will put those issues in a global context, while also providing our students with hard skills that they can use to enhance their activities with SAP. This is the unique contribution that I can bring to the RDF students, this is what excites me.