Back when I began following the Iditarod and the EDU website, I read about 2004 Teacher on the Trail™, Jeff Peterson. I remember thinking, “Wow! I would LOVE to do that!” The dream began for me, but it seemed beyond reach. As the years passed and I used the Iditarod more and more as a tool for teaching my winter curriculum topics, I continued to be impressed by the yearly teachers chosen for Teacher on the Trail™ and the lessons they posted that helped motivate my students.
After attending Iditarod Summer Educators Camp in Alaska the summer of 2016, I left camp SO pumped with great ideas and experiences. Tentatively, I began the lengthy application . My mother was diagnosed with cancer right around that time, but with her blessing, I moved ahead with the application. Questions like, “Tell of an experience that made an impact on your life,” or “Write a website post as though you were writing from a checkpoint,” consumed my thoughts. Though I started early, the application ballooned into a whirlwind to finish the video, gather recommendations, and answer all the questions before the December 1 deadline. I thought that even if nothing else came of all that work, the reflections were beneficial professionally, and I had accomplished a step toward a dream. My mother passed away on December 26 yet had told me, “If anything happens to me, and you get to be Teacher on the Trail™, I hope God gives me just a peek so I can follow you on the Iditarod.”
Being chosen as one of three finalists, attending and speaking at the Iditarod Winter Conference, and meeting passionate teachers from around the USA who valued the Iditarod was one of the highpoints in my professional career.
Fast forward, and here I am, back in the trenches with 5th graders as Iditarod 2018 Teacher on the Trail™. It sweetens the start of school to have this dream-come-true opportunity! Many of my new students know nothing of the Iditarod, so I have the joy of introducing it to them. There’s lots to do besides the day-to-day exhaustion from lesson planning all subjects and teaching. I’m conducting research and interviewing people, writing and editing a LOT for website posts, shining up lesson plans, planning to Skype with classrooms, and getting ready for an Iditarod fall conference October 14, 15. Teacher on the Trail™ begins way before traveling the Iditarod Trail!
My point. If you’re a passionate teacher who loves to do what it takes to engage and motivate your students, consider living your dream by applying for Teacher on the Trail™.
I have the privilege of being the 20th Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™. All 20 of us are, or have been, passionate teachers who get tired when school buses come 45 minutes late, who stand in line to use the copier, and who sneak chocolate from our desks to make it through the day. Maybe what sets Teachers on the Trail™ apart is that we tried. We took a risk and put in a lot of effort for our dream. Think about it!
Other Iditarod Teacher News!
Need a boost to begin using the Iditarod or to get fresh ideas? There will be an Iditarod teachers’ conference in Virginia offered October 14, 15, 2017. Hear speakers give standards-based teaching ideas for incorporating the Iditarod, participate in Skype sessions with mushers, and network with other teachers who love the race and see the motivation it brings to the classroom! Contact the ITC EDU Director, Diane Johnson, at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional details.