One of our aims while cycling around the world is to visit schools along the way and to engage students in workshops in order to develop our educational project: www.tedweb.org.
We had the pleasure of visiting Tara Pattana International School in Pattaya, Thailand, a couple of weeks ago to do just that. I have to admit, I was a little nervous. We have been out of the classroom for 9 months and running a workshop is very different to teaching your own class in familiar surroundings. We needn't have worried though. We cycled through the school gates and made our way to the office where there was a big welcome sign for us! The school had also arranged their own teddies on bicycles at the front of the stage so we felt right at home. It turned out that the school was holding a Bike Day the following weekend (similar to the Cylothon we organised at a previous school) so the timing of our visit was great.
We set up our tent and props, familiarised ourselves with the tech and prepared to share our journey with the whole elementary school in a presentation. Matthew teaches secondary while I work in elementary so it was a new challenge for us to present as a team. Matthew took on the role of on-stage presenter while I wandered amongst the children, encouraging interaction and questions. We showed photos and videos, played guessing games, had the students try some of our gear and answered questions. In our excitement, we ended up rambling on for quite a long time (probably a bit too long) but the students were kind to us and listened attentively. We were surprised and delighted to receive very useful gifts of caps and water bottles.
After the presentation, two classes stayed behind for the workshop. They shared stories that ranged from historical accounts of battles to local folktales, favorite foods, family moments, unicorn adventures and more. We enjoyed chatting with the students so much that we slightly lost track of time and had to rush to photograph the students and their stories for uploading to our growing online library before they went off for lunch. Just before home time, the students gathered once more to be awarded the badges they had earned during the workshop. We had group photos, said our goodbyes, packed up our bikes.... and then it started lashing rain. The children kept us entertained while we waited for a break in the weather with LOTS of questions and some good advice too. One girl told us about a particular doll that she thought we would really like and where to buy it. Another boy asked how old I was when I learned to cycle (7 but then had to learn again at 24 after more than a decade without a bike).
The rain eased off and we made a break for it - until we were stopped by the very friendly member of the school community for a coffee and chat at the school cafe. We hadn't been to a school with a cafe before but it seemed like a great idea. Parents could socialise while waiting to pick up their children and teachers could come find them there if they needed a quick chat. After one last photo to remember our visit we cycled back to our hotel and prepared to head south the next day.
I realised that evening that you can take a teacher out of the IB but you can't take the IB out of a teacher. How do I know this? Because the first thing I did back at the hotel was to open up a memo on my phone and write down what went well and what could be improved for next time. Without realising it, I had written.... A REFLECTION!
Click here to read the stories we gathered at Tara Pattana International School along with many others.
Videos of our adventures can be found on our YouTube channel.