Přeskočit na hlavní obsah

Michaela Faltusová: As if I Was in an American Movie

Michaela Faltusová is a high school
teacher.  She teaches English and Economics, at the Industrial, Technical and Automotive High School in Jihlava, the capital of the Vysočina Region. During September and October of 2022, Michaela spent six weeks in the U.S. participating in the Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program focused on media literacy and critical thinking. The major part of her training happened at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Via workshops, debates, presentations, and expert talks for the selected group of 22 teachers from various European and Asian countries, Michaela explored various aspects of her teaching objectives. She learned about media literacy and its advancement, democratic values and how to strengthen them, inclusion and diversity, discussed current events, and talked about the importance of students’ wellbeing in the classroom. In addition, the participants spent multiple intense days side-by-side with American high school teachers, observing lessons, co-teaching, and participating in everyday activities at regular high schools in Madison. As noted by Michaela, this immersive high school experience made her feel as though she was “in an American movie.” 

Participating in the Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program was an experience that enriched my personal and professional life in so many ways. As a teacher from the Czech Republic, I was excited to be selected as part of the Media Literacy Fall Cohort, hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Wisconsin, USA. Here's a glimpse into my unforgettable experience.

Photo: A cultural day celebration with fellow grantees from various European and Asian countries, October 2022, Madison, Wisconsin. 

As a teacher, it's essential to stay up to date with the latest issues, and that's precisely what we did during the program. The program lasted for six weeks and brought together 22 teachers from different European and Asian countries. During these six intense weeks, I had the opportunity to learn about various aspects of media literacy, such as critical thinking and evaluation of sources. In addition to the media literacy curriculum, we had lectures on contemporary issues like democracy, diversity, inclusion and mindfulness.

Photo: On of the major discussion themes during the training program at University of Wisconsin-Madison, September 2022. 

One of the highlights of the university program was the opportunity to study with American students and work together on projects. We collaborated on various activities and learned from each other's perspectives. Moreover, the School of Education at UW-Madison invited us to many events organized by the faculty, such as the Conference about elections, different meetings, homecoming, etc.

Photo: Homecoming at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, October 2022, Madison, Wisconsin.

We even had a weekend trip to Chicago, where we explored the city's architecture and famous landmarks. It was a chance to immerse ourselves in American culture and history while also bonding with our fellow participants.

Photo: Trip to Chicago with fellow training participants, October 2022, Chicago, Illinois.

As part of the program, I had the chance to observe and teach at West High School in Madison. It was an incredible opportunity to get a unique perspective on American high schools as I immersed myself in the lives of everyday American high school teachers. The school culture in the United States is very different from the one in the Czech Republic, and it was fascinating to see how American high school students are encouraged to participate and join as many clubs and extracurricular activities as possible. Every day for three weeks, I felt as if I was in an American movie, with students almost running in corridors to get to their classes on time. The process of learning is different as well, with students being independent and encouraged to ask questions. The classroom environment is relaxed and fosters creativity and independent thinking, which was very different from the more structured environment I was used to in the Czech Republic. It allowed me to see firsthand how American education is structured and delivered. I worked with enthusiastic and inspiring teachers who were dedicated to their students‘ success. I was also impressed by the diversity of the student body and how the schools valued inclusivity and cultural exchange.

Photo: A cheerleading practice at a high school athletic stadium, October 2022, Madison, Wisconsin.

The campus in Madison was a beautiful place, with Lake Mendota and Lake Monona providing picturesque views. Biking around the lakes was a great way to unwind and see more of the city. One of my favorite spots in Madison was a café near the hotel and the bistro Forage with delicious salads on the menu. The beauty of Bascom Hill and my everyday journey to school and lunch with other teachers at the lake are moments that I will always cherish.

Photo: Break time with fellow training participants, September 2022, Madison, Wisconsin.

The program was not just about professional development; it was also about personal growth. I met a lot of new friends, and their lives were fascinating and inspiring. It was interesting to learn about their different cultures and traditions. I realized that we all have our unique struggles and challenges, but we can support each other and learn from each other's experiences. We had deep discussions about our cultures, education systems, and the challenges that we face in our countries. It was an opportunity to broaden my understanding of the world and how education is approached in different contexts helped me to keep my distance from all problems at home and focus only on myself. I came home in better shape, both physically fit and mentally ready to face the reality of everyday life.

Photo: Dinner with colleagues, September 2022, Madison, Wisconsin.

The whole program concluded in Washington, DC, where we attended two days of seminars, met other participants, and saw many landmarks of the city. It was a bittersweet moment when we had to say goodbye to everyone. We had formed such strong bonds and made such unforgettable memories together.

Photo: Exploring the major sites in Washington, D.C., October 2022.

Overall, the Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program was an incredible experience that broadened my horizons and gave me a new perspective on teaching and learning. The program not only enriched my knowledge of media literacy but also exposed me to the diversity and complexity of American culture. I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this program and for the support of the Fulbright Commission in my home country. This experience will stay with me for a lifetime, and I look forward to implementing what I have learned in my classroom back home.

Photo: Break time during the training program, September 2022, Madison, Wisconsin. 

Populární příspěvky z tohoto blogu

Saemyi, Anna, Maddie & Madison: Světlá nad Sázavou Project Day

Anna, Maddie, Saemyi and Madison arrived in the Czech Republic in August 2021 to assist with English language education at Czech high schools in Litomyšl, Kolín, Světlá nad Sázavou and Jaroměř as Fulbright grantees. All of them met for the first time at the in-country training that the Fulbright Commission hosted during the last week of August at Castle Liblice, located about 30 miles North of Prague. The training for the 33 English Teaching Assistants who are currently placed at high schools all over the Czech Republic took five days. For the last two days, Czech high school teachers, who serve as mentors of Fulbright ETAs during their whole 10-month stay joined as well. To encourage communication and cooperation among grantees and teachers placed nearby, all American grantees and their Czech hosts were grouped into so-called “nests.” Some nests are nice and tight, with grantees located within 30 minutes away of each other, while other grantees have to travel a bit more. Looking at th

ETA Spotlight Interview: Kelsey Gerbec

by Sinia Amanonce Kelsey Gerbec Kelsey Gerbec is a 22-year-old, Indiana University graduate who has spent time teaching English in Peru and Rwanda. This year, she is continuing her experience with international education by serving as an English Teaching Assistant in Litomyšl, Czech Republic. Read below to find out what Kelsey has to say about language education and acquisition, conquering imposter syndrome, and her experience introducing the Cha Cha slide to Czech teens. Fast Facts Hometown: Geneva, Illinois Age: 22 College, Major/Minor: Indiana University, Secondary Math Education/ Spanish and International and Comparative Education School in the Czech Republic: Gymnázium A. Jiráska Litomyšl Favorite Czech word and food: “Oh! Svíčková! I don’t know if that counts as a word because it is food, but it is my favorite Czech food.” Favorite Quote: “Keep moving forward” - Walt Disney. Please, tell me about yourself. I am from the Chicago suburbs and I went to Ind

Muriel Unseth: Emil Zátopek’s Philosophy of Hard Work in Unfavorable Conditions

Muriel Unseth is an English Teaching Assistant, a literature and poetry enthusiast and a marathon runner. Since September 2021, she has been teaching English at Gymnázium Rožnov pod Radhoštěm, in a town of 16 000, located in the Beskydy Mountains. From the main square in Rožnov, one can take a well-marked 6-mile trail or run to the top of the mountain Radhošť, 1129 meters or 3704 feet above sea level. Even though Muriel was attracted to the Czech Republic mostly because of the country’s excellence in literature and poetry, throughout her grant period, she has discovered another less-known passion shared by many members of her community and that is running, especially trail-running in the countryside. Muriel did not have to wait for this revelation too long, as her mentor Kateřina invited her to see the movie “Zátopek” during Muriel’s first week in the Czech Republic. The story sparked an interest in discovering more about the life and heritage of this exceptional Czechoslovak athlete w