I see you out there. Spending your weekend developing a new way to introduce a concept to your kids. Writing an IEP that captures not just the areas that your student needs to improve, but that captures the strengths that they bring to your classroom. Maybe you're the teacher who spends her lunch on the phone with a parent to share a small victory their child had in your classroom, or the one who stays after school brainstorming with team members how to help the student that is struggling with behavior. You're the teacher up late into the night thinking about what else you could be doing to help that student that has struggles at home that most people could not even begin to fathom. You're the teacher that shows your students that you care not just about their learning, but about each and every one of them. I see you.
The fact is, I am fortunate to work with a building full of educators just like this, each one that I would consider a "distinguished" educator in ways that go far beyond just what they teach. Those who work in education (teachers, guidance counselors, speech-language pathologists, behavior specialists, physical and occupational therapists to name a few) do so because they believe in their mission to guide, teach, and care for today's children and prepare them for their futures. As educators, many of us are constantly looking for ways to stretch and grow ourselves, to be better and do better for our kids. The opportunities to do so present themselves in many ways, but if you are considering taking a leap for the learning experience of a Fulbright Distinguished Award in teaching, I can offer you my advice.
In my experience, there were three important parts in the process of applying and being accepted to the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program: Pre-Application, Application, and Interview. In this post and the following two posts I'll outline some tips for each portion, and hopefully some of my already "distinguished" colleagues will feel inspired to take the leap and apply.
According to the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program website, eligibility requirements are as follows:
- Master’s degree or enrolled in a Master’s program (U.S. teachers only)
- Full time K-12 teaching position, including primary and secondary level classroom teachers of all subjects, guidance counselors, curriculum specialists, curriculum heads, Talented and Gifted coordinators, Special Education coordinators and media specialists/librarians
- Spend at least 50% of time interacting with students
- Five years of full time teaching experience
- Proven track record of professional development activities and leadership
Part I: Pre-Application
- Think about your project! Prior to beginning the application, I gave myself plenty of time to think about areas in my practice that I was especially interested in and passionate about. In my case, when I first found out about the program, I just missed the deadline for the 2014 application cycle. Because of that, I had a full year to think about potential topics for an inquiry project. Your passion is an integral part of your project, and a successful application will reflect it.
- Get familiar with available resources. The Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching webpage is a wealth of information. At the site, there is information from past and current Distinguished Educators (including links to blogs of their experiences), information about countries participating in the program, a sample application, and access to sign up for the Institute of International Education’s Global Opportunities for Teachers newsletter.
- Sign up for notification of next application cycle. When you sign up, you will automatically receive an email when the next application cycle begins. The deadline for application is usually at the beginning of November, but the application typically opens in the summer.
- Update your CV. Having an updated CV will make the process of starting your application much easier.
Now you're ready for the next step. Read on to the next posts for tips about completing the application and preparing for the interview. You can find them here: Part II & Part III.