As this year abroad comes to a close, I feel like I ought to have experienced this magical “Ah-ha” moment where I completely understand the whole exchange teacher process and have this brilliant plan or idea to take back to my school in North Carolina. However I don’t feel like I have had that one moment and I have come to realize that this year living in Scotland, traveling with my family, and teaching in a completely different school setting has been my moment.
Teaching at Kirkcaldy High School has been challenging but a great experience. While kids are kids everywhere, many KHS kids have a home background that does not truly support education and that has been a challenge. Throw in other facts such as students cannot fail, teaching both middle and high school age students, and an education system that is almost completely foreign to me, it is a wonder I survived. I had terrific support from all of the maths teachers, especially Department Chair, Sharon Hamilton. I feel quite confident I was asking daily questions all year long and I am sure she thought I was a pest or at least not worth the hassle. Thank you Sharon!!! As to what I will take back to my school, I honestly do not know until the situation appears where I can utilize my newfound knowledge and experiences and meld them into something that will work at home. I can say that I have learned to do much more lesson preparation using the computer, data projector, and even a smart board. Imagine that from the guy using the overhead projector during the 2011-12 school year.
Carter and Cara have been able to go places and see things that most Americans will never ever see and I hope they remember the great times we spent together. Stacy has been able to have a year’s sabbatical from school and instead be a stay at home mom and full time travel agent. She has done an outstanding job of planning our trips and keeping the family strong and there is no one else that I would have wanted to share this year with than her.
I have lived my dream of living in a country that embraces football, seeing several Premier League games, and listening to TV and radio shows that talk about it all of the time. I think fish & chips, bangers & mash, and even haggis, neeps , tatties are great meals, especially with a pint or two of cask ales. I was extremely proud when Andy Murray won Wimbledon, because he is a Scot. It may seem a bit strange, but I really see myself as part Scottish and I will truly miss the identity of being Scottish, even though I am an American and have this really cool accent (at least many of the students said that). When we arrived back in Scotland from our trips to other countries, it truly felt as if I was coming home and I will miss that. How will I adjust to being back in North Carolina, I cannot say for sure. All I can honestly say is that I will do it the same way that I did in Scotland, which was take it one day at time (and look forward to holidays and football matches).