Character education teachers are often forced against their wills to teach the subject. Like business people compelled to travel against their wills, character education teachers are sent to a foreign land far from their comfort zone. Many are sent with little or no training, and given the smallest of expense accounts. Those who enter character education country only once or twice a year for an assembly program may find the trek enjoyable. Those who make multiple trips each month may detest it. Love it or hate it, travel to character education land can be more enjoyable.
Character education teachers can learn ways to travel efficiently without disturbing the flow of their everyday lives. As the business travelers in Anne Tyler’s “Accidental Tourist” became accidental sightseers in the lands they visited on business, educators can become accidental teachers when forced to take on this part of the curriculum. Even though a teacher enters character education land “with his eyes shut and holding his breath and hanging on for dear life,” he can learn to enjoy “the virtuous delights of organizing a disorganized country.” He can become an accidental teacher of renown!
The Accidental Teacher Guidebook
Having traveled often to character education land, I would like to share a few secrets that have helped many other teachers “pretend they had never left home.” To help you remember, let’s collect them into “The Accidental Teacher” guidebook.
Packing the Carry-on Bag
A carry-on bag is all you need. Checked luggage is nothing but a headache. Any frequent business traveler knows the importance of packing lightly and carefully. Essentials are few but – well – essential. Be sure to include, at the very least, the following five items in your carry-on bag.
1. Passport and Visa. You should never try to enter character education land without proper credentials. If you do not yet have them, apply immediately. If your country of origin is doing its job, you will be required to prove that you are a character education teacher par excellence – the best, the truest kind. Your fingerprints should reveal your personal courage of convictions. Make sure you are worthy to receive a visa to your destination.
2. Well-tailored Suit. Only one kind of suit is acceptable for treks into character education land. It must be a custom-made suit of moral values. It must be cut of the same top quality cloth throughout, and fit you perfectly. You must feel as comfortable in it as you do in your loungewear at home. You will be wearing this suit every day of your journey, and you cannot be tugging at a too-stiff collar or sucking in your breath because of a too-restraining waistband. Your suit must give you moral fortitude and confidence on your journey – and must also lend credibility to your presentation. You are, in fact, modeling your presentation in the suit you wear.
3. Portfolio. Character education lesson plans are not a luxury. They are vital to an excellent, successful presentation. Your portfolio should be filled with the best you can purchase. Avoid the temptation to save money by packing only free character education lesson plans. One or two in a portfolio may be fine, but you cannot afford to waste space. Ask your sending organization to invest in a quality portfolio. Carefully choose character education lesson plans that are professionally written by qualified writers. Look for those that are age-appropriate, intriguing, and able to give you the most bang for the buck. Remember, you have goals to accomplish. You are not being asked to simply make one fruitless trip after another.
4. Cosmetics. The well-prepared accidental teacher does not need, and should not pack, any cosmetics. Integrity will blend with every skin type, is becoming to everyone, and is worn by every knowledgeable accidental teacher. You must appear exactly as you are, without façade. Remove from your carry-on bag all little white lies and other cover-ups you may have carried in the past. Be yourself – your best self.
5. Travel Book. As every business traveler knows, a good travel book in the carry-on bag can help you understand your target country better. Tuck in a good book about high moral values, and take time to read it carefully each time you travel.
Accidental teachers who pack a single carry-on bag with these five items will find that they can travel efficiently and comfortably.
Character education land will be like home for those who are prepared. That preparation goes beyond the carry-on bag, of course. In Chapter Two, we look at additional ways to get ready for, and embark on, your journey.