Now, more than ever, our students are in need of strong social and emotional learning opportunities that allow them to grow as individuals while building the necessary skills to be independent and resilient. Travel remains one of the most authentic ways to build these skills, and educators notice a difference in the classroom after students return.
So what exactly are social and emotional learning standards? The umbrella term captures all of those skills students need to be successful, but can’t necessarily be traced back to one core content area. Public speaking and communication skills, self-agency, and emotional maturity are all great examples; but how does one teach these? For most of us, we can’t remember where we learned these skills, but we all agree that life and experience are the best teachers. Travel changes you, and sometimes can be downright uncomfortable. But it’s in those uncomfortable, sleepy, grumpy moments that some of our greatest moments are born.
One thing that students repeatedly share with me is their lack of space to speak about what is important to them, and what has them upset or downright stressed out. I have used tours as an opportunity to create that space for students. Each night, once dinner is over and we have returned back to the hotel, we have a one-hour meeting. Our entire group gathers in the lobby or breakout room and we speak about the day. What was eye-opening? What gave you perspective about your own life and experiences? What upset you? Ask students to share with the group, giving each the chance to share a few “roses and thorns” about their experience. This may seem small and trivial in comparison, but for many students, this practice of speaking in front of a group and sharing how they truly feel will be new. The first night is always a little awkward, but by the end of your tour the students will be used to the practice and will be speaking with a newfound authority and maturity. And they will thank you for it.
We’ve teamed up with Walter Doyle, English teacher and co-founder of Kids N Culture, to bring you this 5 part education series exploring how travel connects to the classroom and improves academic performance. Walter is an expert in all things educational travel and has seen first-hand the learning benefits of taking students outside the classroom and into the real-world.