To inspire the love of learning in students, teachers also need to continue exploring. Effectively modeling life-long learning for the students, my school awarded me a grant for experiential professional development. I was sent on an adventure of a lifetime to visit “The Polar Bear Capital of the World.”
In late October and early November, the bears converge at the edge of Hudson Bay outside of Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, preparing to head out onto the newly forming sea ice and hunt seals for the winter. We spent a couple days in Churchill, visiting museums and touring the town. We even spent an afternoon dog sledding. Next, we headed 25-miles out of town to Polar Bear Point, where our feet did not touch the ground for three days. We went on a bumpy buggy ride out to the Lodge, which consists of two bunkhouses, a lounge car, and a dining/kitchen car. We spent the evening hours at the Lodge and headed out in a Tundra Buggy early each morning to spot as much wildlife as possible. We were lucky to have a Polar Bears International scientist as the guest speaker one evening at the Lodge in addition to an interpretive guide on our buggy excursions.
While away, I maintained a blog that provided a chance for my students and others to vicariously travel and learn with me. I also connected with a teacher in Churchill to set up a letter writing exchange between our students so they can compare growing up in their different regions. When I returned home, I enhanced my curriculum with my own photos and footage. I also scheduled several presentations outside of my classroom, meeting with students from PK through Upper School to raise awareness about this endangered animal. I am fortunate to be in a progressive school that advertises experiential learning for the students and reciprocates that same philosophy in professional development opportunities for the faculty.